Florida's Advantages: Education and Workforce
United for Success in Florida
Education, workforce and economic development agencies combine forces in Florida to grow a ready supply of talent.
When making the decision to expand or relocate, business owners most often put workforce issues at the top of their priorities. Companies that choose Florida soon find that workforce services here have been fine-tuned and fully coordinated to serve the needs of employers and employees alike.
Under the Employ Florida umbrella are two partners at the state level: Workforce Florida Inc., which oversees and monitors the administration of the state’s workforce policy, programs and services, and the Agency for Workforce Innovation, which administers workforce funds, houses the Office of Labor Market Statistics and serves as the designated U.S. Census data center for Florida.
At the local level, 24 regional workforce boards with significant business representation implement workforce programs in their communities, including the oversight of nearly 90 One-Stop Centers where services are delivered directly to employers and job seekers.
Whatever the need — whether it’s an individual employer seeking workers with specialized skills or an entire industry undergoing transition — Florida’s workforce system stands ready to help.
— Erik Simonsen
Customized Training Makes the Difference
There is no discounting the importance of formal classroom education, diplomas and degrees. But sometimes, they’re just not enough to meet specific employer needs. For example, an aging workforce on the brink of retirement might necessitate industry-wide training of a new generation of workers to take their place. New equipment often requires new skill sets, and a shift in products or services may mean that legacy systems or long-held knowledge about the “right” way to perform a particular job task have become obsolete. In cases like these, employers of all sizes are taking advantage of the customized training programs and incentives that help support job creation and retention, such as the Quick Response Training (QRT) grant Florida makes available to ensure that workers acquire the updated skills they need:
A corporation as large and with as many projects and suppliers as Lockheed Martin generates a significant number of documents during the procure-to-pay (PTP) process. Everything from the initial RFP to purchase orders to status and delivery notices to final payment must be logged and monitored. And not surprisingly, over the course of many years, various divisions throughout the company have devised their own systems — more than 40 in all — for entering and tracking all types of documents and at various stages of PTP. In 2008, Lockheed Martin made the decision to develop a consistent PTP tool for use company-wide. The new tool would, of course, require employees to be trained in new skills, which is where Workforce Florida entered the picture. Says Jon Crump, Lockheed Martin’s chief information officer, enterprise operations, “This was a major modernization for Lockheed Martin, so we talked with Workforce Florida to get a general understanding of what capabilities they have.” Because of the technical nature of the subject matter, Lockheed Martin did not need help securing trainers or developing curriculum. However, the company did qualify for a Quick Response Training (QRT) grant totaling $2.2 million. The funding is being used, along with company matching funds, to underwrite the cost of obtaining state-of-the-art procurement software and establishing a training regimen that combines traditional classroom sessions with self-paced tutorials for nearly 1,000 employees in Florida alone, plus performance support in the form of online help that workers can access at any time as they work through the application. Plans call for the complete training program to be rolled out in six phases over a three-year period. The first classroom session took place in July 2009; the last of the sessions will be completed in 2012. “The people at Workforce Florida were hands down very responsive, very easy to work with,” says Crump.