News Column

Gov. Scott Proposes $30 Million for Florida Workforce Training

January 23, 2014

Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday a proposed new initiative that would pump $30 million in state funds into workforce training and would earmark about $1.5 million for trade and export assistance.

"It's to help our families get more jobs," Scott said at a news conference Thursday morning in Jacksonville. "We want to make sure this is an opportunity economy where you can be whatever you want to be. "

Scott made the announcement at the Greencore USA food packaging and convenience store supply plant on Jacksonville's Northside.

Scott said his proposal for more employment training and assistance is primarily targeted for improving employment educational programs at Florida colleges and vocational institutions. But he also said companies in Florida will be eligible to apply for the assistance funding.

"If they're underemployed, it will help them find out what they want to do. If you have employees that need training in some areas, it will help companies like Greencore. Also, when companies come here, we have money for training when they move here, we have $12 million in the budget for that," Scott said.

Chris Hart, CEO of Workforce Florida Inc., a jobs development organization which will receive much of the money if the program is approved by state lawmakers, said the proposal could be a huge boost to job placement efforts.

"This can increase the right curriculum and right programs that then lead to those job seekers having the right skills at the right time. That's how all of this comes together. This training fund is going to help us build this at a superior level right here in Florida," Heart said.

Liam McClennon, CEO of Greencore who also announced Thursday the company was expanding 100 percent by adding another 160 workers, said Scott's proposal fits in well with the likes of the Jacksonville business.

"We maintain varying levels of skills that we need and we have high levels of food safety to meet. Workforce training is very important to us. So that's important that he [Scott] announced this and it's very welcomed," McClennon said.

Linda Sparks, executive director of the Jacksonville Academy of electrical Technology, said while the proposal may seem geared toward workers, it's also significant benefit to employers.

"Gov. Scott recognizes the importance of investing in workforce development to ensure Florida's employers have the well-trained workforce needed to expand and flourish," Sparks said in a news release. Sparks is also a member of the Worforce Florida board.

Scott said the proposed workforce spending is a line item in his proposed budget that is still subject to legislative review and approval.

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Original headline: Gov. Scott proposes $30 million for Florida jobs training



Source: (c)2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)