At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that nearly $30 million will be dedicated to support workforce development in the Space Coast region as part of a groundbreaking, multi-agency initiative to support competitive industries in the area.
The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Department of Education, CareerSource Florida, Enterprise Florida and Space Florida have partnered in this initiative to identify high-demand industries and match them with workforce education opportunities in the Space Coast region. Industries that will benefit from these investments include aviation and aerospace, defense, manufacturing, and cybersecurity and information technology.
“I set a goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce education by 2030 — and we are doing that by making investments that expand opportunity and meet industry needs,” said DeSantis. “Currently, there are over 91,000 manufacturing and aerospace technology-related jobs on the space coast and this $30 million investment will build more opportunities for Floridians.”
The funds include:
The Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund ($11.5 million) – to expand and support machining, welding, manufacturing, and avionics training programs at Eastern Florida State College,
Daytona State College, and Indian River State College. The Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund promotes public infrastructure and workforce training across the state.
Eastern Florida State College – to transition and improve its aviation maintenance programs, incorporate composite training and avionics, and expand the college’s existing aerospace technology programs.
Daytona State College – to scale the college’s machining and welding technology programs, with intentional efforts to build the workforce pipeline by increasing dual enrollment and strengthening K12-to-postsecondary pathways.
Indian River State College – to design, equip, and launch the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Hub which will expand training and employment opportunities for students as well as support the growth of the advanced manufacturing industry in the region.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) ($9.0 million) – to create the Florida Atlantic Workforce Alliance, a collaborative effort between workforce boards, educational institutions and school systems and aerospace, aviation, cybersecurity and manufacturing employers from Flagler to Martin counties. WIOA creates a comprehensive workforce development system that aids job seekers and employers.
The Florida Department of Education’s Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant (PCOG) program ($6.4 million) – to develop and expand machining and welding, aerospace, cybersecurity, and electrical apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs at EFSC, DSC, and IRSC. The PCOG program is appropriated under the state of Florida General Appropriations Act to establish or expand registered apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs.
Eastern Florida State College – to develop pathways for pre-apprenticeship and support the Space Coast Machining Apprenticeship Program, the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program (mechatronics, CNC machining, composites, and welding), and the Technology and Health Apprenticeship Program (cybersecurity).
Daytona State College – to work with the Volusia County School District to expand its electrical pre-apprenticeship program and link it more closely with current electrical apprenticeship programs.
Indian River State College – to develop industry appropriate advanced manufacturing apprenticeship programs and other transportation and logistics programs and expand the current Advanced Manufacturing Bootcamp and Apprenticeship program.
Brevard Public Schools – to offer a Certified Logistics Associate Course which provides students with the foundational knowledge needed to understand supply chain, material handling, quality control, workplace communication and problem solving.
School District of Indian River County – to begin a 4,000 hour apprenticeship in the aviation industry to include welders. This program will teach students major welding processes and provide on the job training.
St. Lucie County School District – to introduce welding concepts and give high school students a path towards apprenticeship welding programs. Additionally, they will be implementing an 18-month preapprenticeship program to introduce students to supply chain and logistical technical instruction.
Florida Makes ($1.16 million) – Florida Makes will serve as the Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor for an Advanced Manufacturing and Production Technology course.
The Florida Department of Education’s Cyber/IT Pathways Grant program, ($3 million) – to develop, expand, and support cybersecurity programs at EFSC, DSC, and IRSC. The Cybersecurity and Information Technology Pathways (Cyber/IT Pathways) program is a joint endeavor of the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity (Cyber Florida) to inspire and prepare more students to pursue fulfilling and lucrative careers in cybersecurity/information technology (IT) while helping address a national skills shortage in these areas.
Eastern Florida State College – to upgrade and expand existing cybersecurity programs to include articulation agreements and industry training in the NIST/CMMC certification.
Daytona State College – to develop a state-of-the-art Center for Cybersecurity at its Advanced Technology College campus and provide urgently needed incumbent worker training in a focused effort to keep current professionals highly skilled in an ever-changing field.
Indian River State College – to support training in non-credit certifications which can be used to meet the immediate needs of local employers.
“Governor DeSantis continues to build on our success to develop a robust space economy across Florida,” said Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez. “Today’s announcement regarding our innovative funding partnership with our state colleges and workforce boards will position Florida as a leader in the aerospace industry. As chair of Space Florida’s Board of Directors, I look forward to meeting the needs of future growth of space exploration and aviation technology in Florida.”
“In 2019, Governor DeSantis challenged our state to become first in workforce education by 2030. Through his decisive leadership and strategic investments like today’s awards, the governor has become a true champion for Florida’s workforce education efforts,” said Florida DEO Sec. Dane Eagle. “As Florida’s workforce continues to thrive, DEO is proud to work closely with our state agencies and its partners to bring the governor’s vision to life. I look forward to the rewarding opportunities and continued growth this initiative will bring to Space Coast residents.”
“Today’s announcement represents an unprecedented investment in workforce education for the region,” said Senior Chancellor of Education Henry Mack. “These funds will nearly guarantee a clear, accelerated pathway for all Floridians interested in high paying advanced manufacturing and aerospace jobs. It also renews Florida’s commitment to training for the future of work, today.”
“Since the start of his administration, Governor DeSantis has prioritized workforce education,” said Florida Deputy Sec. of Commerce Laura DiBella. “Florida’s aviation, aerospace, manufacturing and cybersecurity industries are growing at record speed, and this collaborative initiative will provide Florida with the crucial resources needed to meet and exceed competitive workforce demands. An investment in our workforce is an investment in Florida’s future, and we are proud to support the governor and fellow partners to bring this to fruition.”
“This investment in workforce education for aerospace related jobs is a great next step as Florida continues to establish itself as the leader in commercial space,” said President and CEO of Space Florida Frank DiBello.
“With significant job growth in Florida’s aviation and aerospace industry sectors, the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors applauds Governor Ron DeSantis for leading this collaborative effort and targeted investment in workforce education and training,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. “This initiative is a great example of why the REACH Act was passed. Together with our workforce development, economic development and education partners, we will ensure Floridians are trained and ready for these high-wage, high-demand jobs of the future.”
“This is an exciting opportunity for regional collaboration to expand the workforce talent in aerospace, aviation, manufacturing and cybersecurity,” said CareerSource Brevard President Marci Murphy. “We are grateful for the governor’s vision of a synergetic approach to talent pipeline growth that includes the public school system, state colleges and local workforce development boards on Florida’s Atlantic coastline, giving businesses the workforce they need to be successful.”
“The CareerSource Flagler Volusia Board of Directors is grateful for this tremendous investment to heighten awareness and training opportunities for these legacy industries in our community,” said Robin King, the president and CEO of CareerSource Flagler Volusia. “Our success, built on collaboration between education partners, economic development practitioners and area businesses, will strengthen the talent pipeline along the Florida Atlantic coast.”
“On behalf of CareerSource Research Coast’s board of directors and staff, we thank our governor and state workforce and education leaders for your commitment with this substantial investment in our state’s talent pipeline,” said CareerSource Research Coast President and CEO Brian Bauer. “CareerSource Research Coast and our partners, including Indian River State College, are excited for this opportunity to work on this sector focus initiative addressing talent needs in aerospace, advanced manufacturing, aviation and cyber security.”
In 2021, DeSantis signed the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act to remove barriers to education and employment and help Floridians become self-sufficient through enhanced access to good jobs and career pathways that offer economic opportunity. A true embodiment of the REACH Act, this initiative involves collaboration among the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Florida Department of Education (DOE), CareerSource Florida, Space Florida, Enterprise Florida, three of the area’s postsecondary educational providers, and twenty-five local partners and will develop robust training programs and support a stronger and more talented technical workforce for the Space Coast.
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