Following education, workforce trends, FL may introduce career-themed courses in middle school
A bill recently introduced in the Florida State House would expand career-themed courses for middle school students as applications for jobs requiring vocational education plummet nationwide.
The bill could show students alternatives to a four-year degree as the latest initiative in providing vocational education for the state’s in-demand industries.
A bipartisan bill recently introduced in the Florida State House would help expand career-themed courses for middle school students as applications for jobs requiring vocational education plummet nationwide.
HB 455, referred to the Choice and Innovation Subcommittee on Feb. 1, could show students alternatives to a four-year degree by introducing them to vocational education at an earlier age.
The bill amends Florida law on career-themed courses. School districts currently offer at least two career-themed courses, or those “lead[ing] to an industry certification” that “have industry-specific curriculum aligned directly to priority workforce needs,” according to the bill.
Florida law encourages each high school to offer one career-themed course. If passed, the bill would go into effect on July 1, 2023, and encourage school districts to offer courses identified by the Florida Department of Education for middle school students.
[RELATED: KFC to offer 100% tuition coverage for employees, following trend among businesses]
The bill is the latest initiative in providing vocational education for the state’s in-demand industries. In 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Get There Florida, “a workforce education initiative aimed at raising awareness of short-term, high-value Career and Technical Education programs.”
Accelerated training through colleges and centers, DeSantis said in a press release, help students complete “an in-demand but high-value industry certification or postsecondary workforce credential” in industries “includ[ing] advanced manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, and information technology.”
Florida law currently requires that high schools offering career-themed courses give students opportunities to earn postsecondary credits. The state’s expansion of career-themed courses through HB 455 could make vocational education more attractive to a generation that often sees four-year degrees as their best option.
[RELATED: PROF. GIORDANO: Community college is a better, more viable alternative for many students]
Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel reality show “Dirty Jobs” criticized the diminishing place of vocational education during his congressional testimony, according to a Campus Reform report on the nationwide vocational skills gap.
“When we took shop class out of high school, we sent an unmistakable message to an entire generation of students … that a whole category of jobs was simply not desirable,” Rowe said. “Is it any wonder those are the very jobs that go begging today?”
Federal initiatives are similarly addressing the vocational skills gap, including a House bill that would offer Pell Grants to students completing workforce training.
“For too long, Pell Grants have been restricted to degree programs that often fail to prepare students for the workforce,” Rep. Virginia Foxx, Chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Committee, said in a previous statement to Campus Reform.
“We introduced the PELL Act to help low and middle-income students take charge of their career and access skills-based programs that will equip them with the proper tools to succeed.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.