Gov. Ron DeSantis signs 3 workforce bills at community college in Tampa

Bills aimed at improving vocational training in Florida

FILE - In this April 30, 2021, file photo surrounded by lawmakers, Florida Gov.Ron DeSantis speaks at the end of a legislative session at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Now that the pandemic appears to be waning and DeSantis is heading into his reelection campaign next year, he has emerged from the political uncertainty as one of the most prominent Republican governors and an early White House front-runner in 2024 among Donald Trump's acolytes, if the former president doesn't run again. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TAMPA, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Thursday morning in Tampa to sign three pieces of legislation aimed at improving Florida vocational and workforce training.

The governor spoke at Hillsborough Community College ahead of the bill signings.

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“Our universities in Florida are very affordable, but you look around at some of these private universities — particularly places in other parts of the country — and you have some of these students that are saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt sometimes a hundred plus thousand dollars, and then they have a degree in like zombie studies or something,” DeSantis said. “And then they get out and you end up working in a job that you didn’t even need to go to college for.”

Several times, the governor emphasized the potential for some to pursue vocational or technical training without incurring debt and still find lucrative employment.

“These kids get hired out of high school, or they’re going — they’ll do some vocational education, they don’t go deep into debt, and they’re making pretty darn good money,” he said.

DeSantis also highlighted money in the state’s 2021-2022 budget earmarked for this type of workforce training — noting $10 million for apprenticeship grants and another $25 million for workforce funds at state colleges.

The governor also noted a measure in the legislation that calls for “accountability” at state colleges to make sure there is “success on the back end.”

“Students go into that program — if they graduate and they don’t have job offerings, the student gets the money back,” DeSantis said. “So we’re really making sure that there’s accountability, and that all these programs are driven towards helping students succeed in the real world.”

Following the bill signing, DeSantis announced that he was heading to Surfside, where a portion of an apartment complex collapsed overnight killing at least one person.

“We’re going to go down, we’re gonna offer whatever support we (can),” the governor said. “We’re hoping for additional rescues, but we’re also bracing for some potentially terrible news because it was a real catastrophe.”

About the Authors:

Brenda, a UCF grad, joined the team in March 2021.

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.