Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state’s department of education have launched the “Get There Florida” campaign to raise awareness about short-term but high-value career and technical education programs.
The initiative highlights career and technical education (CTE) programs at Florida’s 28 state colleges and 48 technical colleges that offer a fast-track workforce credential that can be completed in 20 weeks or less.
The goal is to get Floridians trained and back to work, thus accelerating the state’s economic recovery.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the divide between Floridians’ current skills and the opportunity for advancement in employment,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “Many Floridians have signaled they want to find employment where their skills match demand from employers, especially in those in-demand fields that help communities through COVID-19.”
Getting the word out
The Get There Florida campaign includes an action toolkit with sample social media posts, graphics and other marketing materials for colleges to promote their short-term workforce programs.
The campaign is aimed at “elevating the CTE brand across the state,” said Travis Jordan, director of outreach and recruitment at the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Career, Technical and Adult Education.
“We want to really push prospective students to these colleges,” he said. The campaign encourages people “to rethink what postsecondary education is.”
The campaign boosts awareness of the 17 career pathways offered by Florida state colleges and technical colleges. Those pathways range from energy to health science, from hospitality to public safety.
Florida colleges already have some short-term programs that can be completed in 20 weeks, such as emergency medical technology and phlebotomy, but many people don’t know about them, Jordan said.
The state’s education department has identified more than 100 CTE programs statewide, cross-referenced with CareerSource Florida, an agency that oversees local workforce development boards and career centers.
Disbursing CARES Act funds
Florida is using $35 million in federal CARES Act funds to help colleges create or expand “rapid credentialing programs” that participants can complete in 20 weeks and lead to stackable certifications, Jordan said.
Grants to colleges range from about $100,000 to $2 million. The institutions will use the money to develop infrastructure for short-term programs, purchase equipment and expand outreach to prospective students, including people who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.
Informing people about workforce programs and connecting them to their local college should ultimately boost enrollment, Jordan said. Some colleges in rural areas of Florida are experiencing a decline in enrollment, while some urban colleges are actually seeing an uptick.
“I set a goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce development by 2030, and the Get There Florida Initiative marks an important step toward achieving that goal,” said DeSantis. The initiative will “engage Floridians in in-demand training allowing them to quickly re-enter the workforce or advance their career.”