Monday, Oct 20, 2014
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$1.5 million for adult training in budget


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BROOKSVILLE When Gov. Rick Scott signed the 2013-2014 "Florida Families First Budget" Monday, he effectively set aside $1.5 million for Hernando County to utilize for job growth and adult and community education.

"It will be available," said Assistant Superintendent, Division of Teaching and Schools Ken Pritz. "We are working with the county to create an adult education program, so this would be students already graduated from high school, and we will design programs so they can become trained and get jobs in Hernando County."

That is to be done through collaborations with local businesses in the community, and finding out what employers here want, Pritz said.

"What this $1.5 million is for is to concentrate on other high wage jobs, and high need jobs," Pritz said. "There is a list out there for each region and area for high wage jobs, like anything in the medical field is usually high wage, so medical skills training that's not being offered."

"We don't want to overlap with what's already out there," he added. "We want it to be unique."

The Florida Department of Education will provide the funding, and prior to allocation will require recipients to submit an action plan for how the money will be spent, and with demonstrated success for future funding, said Mike McHugh, director of Hernando County Office of Business Development.

Should the county's implementation strategy be approved, the earliest the funding could be made available is July 1, according to Denise Moen, supervisor of adult and community education.

Pritz said a committee has been working the last year to develop that action plan, Although that plan is not yet developed, it is ambitious in its intentions to expand upon current programs being offered in August at Nature Coast Technical High, such as home health care aide, culinary arts and cosmetology courses.

"We haven't said, 'This is the direction we're going,' because we wanted to wait and see if we'd get that money, and what direction to go," Pritz said. "This is a community effort, not a Hernando County School District effort. We're trying to work with the county on it, and Pasco-Hernando Community College, and we'd like to see this become a constant center adults can go to and get skills training, so they're marketable, because we know that will directly affect the jobless rate."

That applies to aviation-related programs as well, which are very expensive, McHugh said. That's farther down the line than other programs the county is eyeing, though, and there's several - notably information technology centers, computer networking, graphics and design, health care, health sciences and, if the demand is right and there's market traction, workforce training in green technology.

"We would want to make sure we have good training and skill, but also to make sure the demand is there," McHugh said. "You can't just train people and send them off - it's going to be required to have good job-placement ratings for the state."

It was a lack in advanced certification and experience that the Pasco-Hernando Workforce Board's research and analysis correlated to workforce issues in the area, according to McHugh.

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