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New law, reskilling key to filling Florida’s manufacturing workforce gap

By FloridaMakes Network posted 07-01-2021 00:00


Man working on metal

Media Contacts: 
Juliet Hauser
(850) 222-1996 

ORLANDO, FL – Recognizing that new workers will need training for the post-pandemic world, FloridaMakes – a statewide industry-led partnership to strengthen Florida’s manufacturing economy – has developed in-depth training programs to focus on advancing entry-level skills for new and existing employees.

The Florida Legislature, addressing needs regarding the state’s workforce development and education, this year approved legislation that fosters increased collaboration and a no-wrong-door approach to assisting people looking for jobs, education, training, and support services.

Lawmakers unanimously approved HB 1507, the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act of 2021, legislation designed to create a systemwide 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.

The pandemic caused extensive workforce reductions in Florida’s important manufacturing sector and triggered a digital shift, with new online and hybrid training programs emerging within the industry as part of efforts to fill the workforce gap.

“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, an 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.”

FloridaMakes’ Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship Program provides incoming and current manufacturing workers with the opportunity to bridge skills gaps while increasing retention and productivity. To avoid common challenges associated with traditional apprentice programs including long commutes, high tuition costs, and time constraints, the IMT program supports employers’ needs by helping them grow talent internally while offering employees a flexible program complementing their work-life balance.

“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.”

Workforce training and opportunities to gain or enhance skills have become even more essential as Florida emerges from the pandemic. Businesses are eager for new hires and the manufacturing industry is answering the call, ready to fill thousands of new positions and train new hires to clear a path for future progress.

Manufacturing is vital to Florida’s economy and a reskilled workforce is key to post-COVID recovery. The new law gislation is intended to push forward the development of trade programs, like IMT, by granting local schools and state colleges the funds to provide eager-to-learn apprentices the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and focus on the in-demand skills employers are looking for.

A number of organizations across the state are 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.”

Under the REACH Act, access to reskilling and upskilling opportunities for all Floridians is a top priority. With emerging hybrid programs like IMT, employers are encouraged to commit to preparing their employees for career advancement opportunities in the manufacturing industry. Through the combined efforts of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Legislature, and state manufacturers, employers can continually identify skill gaps and participate in apprenticeship programs to reskill employees and solve key challenges associated with future economic conditions.

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About FloridaMakes 

FloridaMakes is a statewide, industry-led, public-private partnership operated by an alliance of Florida's regional manufacturers associations with the sole mission of strengthening and advancing Florida’s economy by improving the competitiveness, productivity and technological performance of its manufacturing sector, with an emphasis on small- and medium-sized firms. It accomplishes this by providing services focused on three principle value streams: technology adoption, talent development, and business growth. FloridaMakes is the representative of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) National Network in the state of Florida, a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. For more information about FloridaMakes, please visit and follow @FloridaMakes.