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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott: Spend $30 million to train workers in 'STEM' occupations



Gov. Rick Scott is in Jacksonville Thursday promoting yet another aspect of his "It's Your Money Tax Cut Budget."

Scott wants the Legislature to allocate $30 million next year for a new workforce training initiative focusing on careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupations. He made the announcement at Greencore USA, a company that makes convenience foods. The firm plans to expand its Jacksonville-area work force in the coming years.

"Pursuing a great career often means having the skills needed by employers who are creating jobs – especially in STEM-related fields," Scott said in a news release. "With these dollars, we will provide access to training resources for both job seekers and employers, while also providing scholarships to Floridians wishing to pursue STEM and other great careers at Florida’s state colleges and vocational centers. This strategic investment will no doubt provide Florida families with even more job opportunities so they can live the American dream.”

Scott's proposal includes taxpayer-funded scholarships for students seeking training in STEM-related fields at a Florida state college or post-secondary vocational center. Many credentials necessary for eligible in-demand careers can be obtained in two years or less.

Scott will propose the next state budget next Wednesday in Tallahassee in conjunction with the annual AP planning seminar for reporters and editors. A governor's budget recommendations mark a starting point in negotiations with the Legislature, which writes the final budget.

The Workforce State Training Program mirrors similar programs in economic competitor states and provides Florida a competitive advantage in attracting new business as well as retaining workers at existing Florida companies.

One of several leaders applauding Scott's idea is a president of an IBEW union local, Rodney Wickham, who is also on the board of Workforce Florida. Through Scott's office, Wickham said: “One of the keys to attracting new businesses to Florida is ensuring we have the skilled workforce to get the job done, and Gov. Scott is demonstrating his commitment once again by investing in our workers so we can compete not just nationally but globally.”

[Last modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014 9:14am]


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