(BPT) - Florida’s economic engine propels the state forward, driving prosperity and raising the quality of life. The fuel for this powerful engine — workforce education. Currently, Florida has more jobs available than job seekers, and too few people are properly qualified. Workforce needs are significant, but there is a solution: help more Floridians embrace and enroll in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. CTE is an affordable, alternative path to a growing and prosperous career. As February marks Career and Technical Education Month, the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and CareerSource Florida are joining together to celebrate.
CTE is a modern approach to higher education and training, and it can accelerate Floridians’ personal and professional success. CTE is a fast, affordable way to prepare for a variety of fulfilling, stable careers with high-wage potential. With CTE, students can quickly acquire skills through real-world experience close to home, or at any one of Florida’s 45 technical colleges and 28 state colleges.
“These are top-notch programs in high-skill sectors that don’t require a four-year degree — fields like engineering technology, healthcare, IT, robotics and more,” said Kevin O’Farrell, Chancellor of Career and Adult Education. “We know not every student has a traditional education path and there is no wrong door to ensure a successful career. As parents, grandparents and guardians start to help their child determine next steps after high school, sharing these alternative education opportunities early is an essential path to set your student up for success.”
As a result of Florida’s policies to support workforce education, the state currently has nearly 800,000 K-12 CTE students – the highest in the state’s history – more than 380,000 postsecondary CTE students, and over 17,000 registered apprentices engaged in workforce education. Since 2019, nearly 250,000 rapid credentials have been awarded, with 93,072 just in 2021-2022 and over one-third of graduates are earning one or more industry certifications.
With the 16th largest economy in the world, Florida is preparing for continued economic and job growth and by 2030 is poised to be the 10th largest economy. By 2030, Florida will add 3.5 million net new residents, 1.62 million net new jobs, 50 million more annual visitors and 3 million more drivers. With this growth, Florida is witnessing rapid technological disruption and innovation across all sectors of industry.
The Florida Department of Education, the Florida Chamber Foundation and CareerSource Florida have joined together to create Future of Work Florida, a multiyear initiative to galvanize support for Career and Technical Education. The Future of Work Florida initiative is showing job creators, parents, grandparents and students that Florida has a dynamic, long-term plan to fuel the future through the best workforce education effort in the US.
“Talent has clearly replaced the tax incentive as the economic development tool of choice,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Foundation. “For Florida to become a top 10 global economy by 2030, building a trained, diverse and competitive workforce is essential. Florida’s job creators must unite with workforce education organizations to create complete career awareness for our future workforce.”
There are currently 17 career clusters available in CTE, which include in-demand programs in high-skill sectors such as engineering and technology, health science, information technology, manufacturing and transportation, distribution and logistics.
“In our growing economy, there are so many opportunities for businesses to thrive and Floridians to connect to education and training that lead to rewarding career pathways,” said Stephanie Smith, Chair of the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors, the Governor’s principal workforce policy board. “Future of Work Florida represents another meaningful way Florida’s business community and our state’s talent development pipeline are collaborating, closing skills gaps and helping Floridians achieve their career goals through career and technical education.”
Florida’s workforce education programs are achievable, effective and driven by the current and projected needs of top industries and high-demand jobs in your community. To celebrate education opportunities of the future, learn more at FutureOfWorkFL.com.