"Florida is expanding opportunities in a way that will strengthen key sectors of the economy."By Andrea Alvarez

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) – More efforts are being made by the Florida Department of Education and Governor Ron DeSantis’ office to make Florida the best state in the country for workforce education by the year 2030.

Wednesday, both offices announced nearly $11 million in funding for career and apprenticeship opportunities. The money will go directly to the 2021 Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant and Apprenticeship State Expansion Grant recipients.

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Senior at USF St. Petersburg, Sean Schrader is nearing graduation with one semester left.

“Then I’m hoping to stay next year to get my MBA,” he said. He’s one of many students who depend on financial aid to help him get through college.

“I’ve realized, especially during the pandemic, it’s very helpful to me and it makes the dream of going to school to get my education a reality,” said Schrader.

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Since 2019, more than $30 million have been invested to expand registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. The state says this grant funding will create opportunities for individuals to earn the high-value skills and nationally recognized credentials necessary for high-earning careers, and support our growing industries and globally competitive economy.

“By investing in career training and apprenticeship programs, Florida is expanding opportunities in a way that will strengthen key sectors of the economy,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Through this program, we are offering alternatives to the traditional (and expensive) brick and ivy education experience and helping Floridians obtain good jobs without going into debt. I am proud that we have been able to award these grants for three years, as we continue to invest in creating opportunities for Floridians.”

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, we’ve doubled-down on our workforce education initiatives and these grant programs best demonstrate this. Apprenticeships are time-tested training models equipping trainees with the confidence and skills to thrive in high-demand careers,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran.

Schrader says school is the only thing a student should have to worry about.

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“Work at their job or their second job pays for what they’re doing here,” he said. “To know that they can focus more on their studies and less on how they’re going to pay for it, I think is a great step. It’s important that there are these resources available and this funding available because less of a burden will be put on students and more of it can be focused on how they can apply what they’re doing in the classroom out into the workforce.”