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FL, LA Govs Challenge Educators to Develop Top-Notch STEM Workforce

January 29, 2014

Filling the pipeline with skilled workers able to perform the high-tech jobs employers say are sitting vacant has long been advocated by state leaders and policymakers as essential to competing in the global economy. Governors in Florida and Louisiana are stepping up efforts this legislative session with proposed multi-million dollar investments through training and scholarship programs to change the landscape of their states’ workforce.

In both states, the governors say the goal is to strengthen the link between college coursework and industry needs while increasing opportunities for job seekers. The Florida plan encompasses worker re-training in its plan while the Louisiana plan puts a greater emphasis on new graduates in STEM fields. 

Florida’s plan includes $30 million in funding for a two-part STEM workforce training initiative under Gov. Rick Scott’s FY15 budget. The Workforce State Training program would be administered by Workforce Florida, Inc., and would provide flexible funding to businesses to train current employees and individuals seeking training in high-wage or high-skill occupations. Scholarship funding for students to study STEM-related fields at two- and four-year higher education institutions completes the second part of the initiative. Gov. Scott’s budget also includes $70 million in capital funding to expand STEM education through facility construction and renovation at state colleges and universities with a required dollar-for-dollar match. Read the press announcement.

A similar initiative unveiled in Louisiana directs $40 million to research institutions for producing more graduates with high-demand degrees and linking industry needs with workforce demands. Gov. Bobby Jindal endorsed the Board of Regents’ proposed WISE Fund – Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund as part of his FY15 budget plan. Funds are available to those institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to colleges and universities that produce graduates with in-demand degrees, according to a news release.

To receive the funds, institutions must partner with private industry to obtain a minimum 20 percent private match in cash or in kind, such as technology and equipment. Under the plan, each institution would present a business plan demonstrating how the funds would be invested to reach the number of degrees needed to fill current and future jobs as determined by the state. Partnerships such as these already are underway, according to the governor’s office. For example, IBM and LSU’s School of Engineering are working to triple the number of computer science graduates in five years.

Florida, Louisianastate budget, stem, workforce, higher ed