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Florida presses ahead with workforce education changes

Gov. Ron DeSantis made the issue a priority for the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis made no secret of his desire to have Florida become first in the nation when it comes to workforce preparation.

Even before he receives a bill (HB 7071) aiming the state in that direction, DeSantis is likely to see his goal move closer to reality through some executive moves in the Department of Education.

When it meets Wednesday, the State Board of Education is set to consider a plan to revise and transform its approach to career education programs within the federal Perkins Act.

The 30-page proposal aims to have the FDOE work in concert with several organizations and agencies, such as CareerSource Florida and the Board of Governors, to better align career and technical education offerings with the needs of the state’s businesses and industry.

It further sets forth plans for annual program reviews, to ensure the courses are relevant to current demands. And it aims to include more apprenticeship programs, as DeSantis had recommended.

“The transition year option provides a unique opportunity to reassess the state’s vision for CTE, collaborate with other workforce education stakeholders to align efforts and integrate the elements of the Governor’s Executive Order to ensure alignment with market demands and build strong partnerships between educational institutions and businesses,” Eric Hall, the state’s new chancellor for innovation, wrote in his executive summary to the board.

Along with the Perkins plan, the board also is set to review 19 career-technical and industry-driven benchmarks, amend its rule for industry certification processes, and update its apprenticeship participation rules.

Some of these actions are routine. But taken as a whole, they demonstrate the administration’s ability to combine executive action with legislative changes to accomplish its goals. The board will discuss its efforts when it convenes at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Mort Elementary School in Tampa.