At a press conference Wednesday in Gainesville, home of the state’s flagship university, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced an $89 million state initiative to boost the career and technical training of students who decide not to get a traditional university degree.
“Yeah, we love state universities, state colleges, that’s great, but a lot of the career and technical stuff has moved out of high schools, where it used to be a staple,” said the governor. “It seems like over the last generation it’s been de-emphasized.”
The new investment will address that, he said, adding that the state has spent $3.5 billion on education and workforce training initiatives since taking office in 2019. The latest cash injection is for state colleges and school districts.
DeSantis said the awards include:
▪ $10 million to Miami Dade College, Northwest Florida State College, Santa Fe College, St. Petersburg College and Tallahassee Community College to establish vocational and technical charter schools for high school students. Students would earn a high school diploma, associate’s degree, and credential.
▪ $26.5 million to increase professional dual enrollment in science, technology, engineering and math programs.
▪ $20 million to “accelerate” post-secondary pathways in cybersecurity and information technology.
▪ $12 million to expand registered apprenticeship programs.
▪ $9 million for critical workforce needs such as nursing, law enforcement, and supply chain logistics.
▪ $12 million in “resources for educators and data-driven supports for students and employers.”
DeSantis said these alternative pathways allow students to enter the workforce in high-demand fields without incurring debt. To make the point, he returned to a term he’s used many times before, “zombie studies,” referring to certain college degrees that he says have little application in the workplace.
“Our state universities, we don’t let them raise tuition, so you don’t go into debt by the hundreds of thousands, but some people do at these private universities,” DeSantis said. “Some of these degrees are studies of zombies or other things that really don’t make a difference, and so they end up with a grindstone around their necks and it’s harder to pass when that happens.”
DeSantis also said the funds would enable high school students to participate in apprenticeship programs, including 50 new ones the state added. He also said he recommended an increase in the state budget for job growth grant funds and $534 million for workforce training.
Henry Mack, chancellor of the Florida Department of Education, said state data shows graduates of vocational and technical programs, known as CTEs, earn the same median lifetime earnings as those with a college degree. first cycle.
“It is no longer opposed to traditional academics,” he said. “CTE is an equal, viable and tremendous opportunity for prosperity.”
Paul Broadie, president of Santa Fe College in Gainesville, spoke about partnerships with private companies that hire college-educated students and how the partners will hire high school students as interns.
“When we talk about economic and social mobility, it starts with our workforce,” Broadie said. “It starts with education at the center.”