(The Center Square) — Florida lawmakers took a closer look last week at a 2021 law that is supposed to streamline and make the state’s workforce development system more accountable.
The Florida House Postsecondary Education and Workforce Subcommittee met on Nov. 15 to discuss the implementation of the Reimagining Education and Career Help Act.
The REACH Act is a comprehensive blueprint to enhance access, accountability and alignment across Florida’s workforce development system.
The act’s goals include increasing equity and access for Floridians, creating a statewide system to deliver services across state agencies while providing more accountability and increasing collaboration among the business and education communities in the Sunshine State.
During the 2023 regular session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 240, which built upon the Act, expanding the growth of apprenticeships, providing flexibility in administering grant programs, and strengthening collaboration among private businesses, educational institutions, and local workforce development boards.
State agencies implementing the Act include the Florida Department of Education, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Commerce, and CareerSource Florida.
Katie Crofoot, the Director of the REACH Office within the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, gave a presentation on what has been achieved so far and how Floridians from many different backgrounds — including those who have previously been incarcerated — can benefit from the Act to become self-sufficient.
According to Crofoot, the REACH Office is responsible for aligning and coordinating Florida’s workforce development system, creating a “no wrong door” entry strategy so Floridians can access services from any workforce partner, increasing accountability by requiring training services to be performance-based and facilitating the development and expansion of apprenticeship programs.
Before the REACH Act, Crofoot stated that agencies acted independently resulting in duplicated efforts for some programs, and there needed to be more oversight of workforce programs.
Crofoot stated that after the REACH Act was implemented, core agency partners could collaborate better, including brainstorming on the best path forward to help Floridians thrive and having a greater understanding of services available between the various agencies.
State Rep. Vicki Lopez, R-Coral Gables, asked Crofoot where exactly the office was in the implementation of the act and if they were on schedule.
Crofoot stated that the implementation activities were on schedule, and some of the frameworks currently in the works are expected to be fully up and running by 2025.