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New and expanding businesses need skilled workers, and Florida stands ready to supply them. At 10.6 million, Florida’s civilian workforce is third largest in the nation and one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse. Just over 20% of Floridians were born outside the U.S., and nearly one-third speak a language other than English at home.
Florida’s workforce is highly trained and widely respected. In 2020, Business Facilities magazine ranked Florida No. 7 among all U.S. states for workforce training. Florida has a long history of combining superior educational resources with practical training programs that may be customized to individual company and/or industry needs. Thus, employers in Florida are readily able to connect with skilled workers at all levels.
Florida is home to 12 public universities and 28 public state and community colleges, plus dozens of private colleges, universities and technical schools, and no Floridian lives more than 50 miles from at least one of them. In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked Florida best in the nation for higher education for a fourth consecutive year, based on time it takes for students to complete two- and four-year programs, debt at graduation and the cost of tuition and fees.
Florida’s colleges and universities are among the nation’s top producers of STEM graduates, a contributing factor to this state’s rankings for number of tech business establishments (No. 3), net tech employment (No. 4) and net tech jobs added (No. 5), according to the 2021 CompTIA Cyberstates tech workforce report.
Four Florida colleges — Valencia, Santa Fe, Miami Dade and Indian River — have been awarded the biennial Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence since the program’s inception in 2011; two Florida colleges — Broward and Tallahassee Community — were finalists for the prize in 2021. In addition, two Florida universities were ranked among the top 15 worldwide for the number of U.S. utility patents they earned in 2020 — University of Florida at No. 11 with 140 patents and University of South Florida at No. 15 with 123.
Florida schools earn accolades at the local level too. Among the first states to offer voluntary pre-kindergarten, Florida continues to lead the nation at No. 1 in Advanced Placement exam participation and, in 2020, jumped to No. 2 for successful AP test performance with 34.3% of the graduating class scoring a 3 or higher on an AP exam. Additionally, 26 Florida high schools earned places among the nation’s top 300 on U.S. News & World Report’s “2021 Best High Schools” list; Miami’s School for Advanced Studies led nationally at No. 5.
Training programs available through CareerSource Florida, the state’s innovative partnership for workforce training, make it possible for business owners to become fully operational and profitable in less time and at lower cost. The agency’s Quick Response Training and Incumbent Worker Training grants help companies keep pace with changing technologies as they recruit and train employees in cutting-edge skills. The Employ Florida Marketplace platform helps job seekers find work and employers connect with prospective job candidates.
And to ensure that employers can readily find workers with the skills they need, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education have launched “Get There Florida,” an innovative workforce education initiative designed to raise awareness of short-term, high-value career and technical education programs. A partnership between the state’s 28 colleges and 48 technical colleges/centers, “Get There Florida” aims to accelerate students’ time to complete certifications and/or postsecondary workforce credentials in high-demand sectors, including manufacturing, logistics and transportation, health care and information technology.
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