Removing manufacturing hurdles could be the key to Florida’s post-pandemic recovery

by | Jul 29, 2021


Amid COVID-19 causing extensive workforce reductions in Florida’s manufacturing industry, FloridaMakes — a statewide industry-led partnership to strengthen the state’s manufacturing economy — is developing in-depth training programs to give new and existing employees the tools they need to thrive in a post-pandemic economy.

With the pandemic triggering a digital shift, and new online and hybrid training programs emerging throughout the industry, FloridaMakes says they’re committed to filling the workforce gap and making training more accessible. Under their Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship Program, FloridaMakes will look to evolve the industry by removing hurdles and providing incoming and current manufacturing workers with the opportunity to bridge skills gaps while increasing retention and productivity. Additionally, the Orlando-based partnership seeks to avoid common challenges associated with traditional apprentice programs including long commutes, high tuition costs, and time constraints, while the IMT program also supports employers’ needs by helping them grow talent internally while offering employees a flexible program complementing their work-life balance.

FloridaMakes noted that the flexibility in training will be the key to enhancing the skills of new hires while also helping the state navigate through the pandemic.

“We are responding to manufacturers and their needs to retain and up-skill their talent with a turnkey in-house training solution,” said Tina Berger, Director of Talent Development at FloridaMakes. “The IMT program supports employers’ needs by providing employees the flexible training they need to hurdle over the industry skills gap.”

The push to fill thousands of new positions and train new hires comes on the heels of the Florida Legislature addressing needs regarding the state’s workforce development and education. Earlier this year, the body approved legislation that fosters increased collaboration and a no-wrong-door approach to assisting people looking for jobs, education, training, and support services.

Most notably, lawmakers unanimously approved HB 1507, the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act of 2021, legislation designed to create a system-wide approach to improve equity and access to workforce training and education for all Floridians. The REACH Act, which was signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 24, includes provisions to redesign the state’s workforce and education systems in order to help Floridians achieve self-sufficiency and reemployment. The law creates a consumer-first workforce system that meets Florida’s students, workers, and job seekers where they are, to find long-lasting careers that meet their interests and goals while promoting transparency and increasing focus on the economic mobility of underserved populations.

“We are particularly excited about the law’s emphasis on incentivizing enrollment and completion in programs that result in a credential of value,” said Henry Mack, Chancellor for Workforce Education at the Florida Department of Education. “Moreover, the bill requires an integrated approach to workforce education and economic development, and improved real-time data analytics infrastructure to better understand supply-demand trends, and resources for our educational institutions to target the most vulnerable of our residents. This legislation will propel Florida toward meeting Governor DeSantis’ goal of becoming No.1 in the nation for workforce education by 2030.”

Other organizations in the Sunshine State are also working to help close the gap. Along with FloridaMakes, the CareerSource Florida network of local workforce development boards, the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, and the FloridaMakes Network’s regional manufacturer associations are working together to help employers fill these vacancies and train new employees.

“The CareerSource Florida Board of Directors applauds Governor DeSantis and legislative leaders for prioritizing alignment of the state’s education and workforce systems under the REACH Act, with its focus on equity and efficiency to achieve a strong, more competitive Florida,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Michelle Dennard. “Enhancing the collaboration between the partners in Florida’s talent development pipeline helps ensure that every Floridian has access to a quality education and the training needed to succeed in our ever-evolving economy, such as that offered through the IMT program.”

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