ICYMI: Governor Ron DeSantis Announces $20 Million to Create Cybersecurity and Information Technology Workforce Education Opportunities
March 2, 2022
Governor's Press Office
Governor Ron DeSantis Announces $20 Million to Create Cybersecurity and Information Technology Workforce Education Opportunities
TAMPA, Fla.,– Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced $20 million in funding to create and expand cybersecurity and IT training opportunities. Governor DeSantis made the announcement at Cyber Florida, the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida (USF). Starting next week, funding will be directed toward the University of South Florida, which will coordinate three regional partnerships to develop workforce education clusters in cybersecurity or cyber-related disciplines for middle-school, high-school, and college students. Last school year, nearly 143,000 Florida middle and high school students were enrolled in career and technical education (CTE) programs that accelerate cybersecurity and IT pathways.
“Expanding Florida’s commitment to creating opportunities in cybersecurity and IT is a top priority to keep our communities safe and our state secure,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “This funding will not only create opportunities for Floridians seeking jobs in this important field but will also improve our national defense, protect Floridians and their businesses, and maintain the integrity of our elections. By doubling available opportunities in this field, Florida continues to lead.”
When USF launches applications for three regional grant opportunities next week, this collective $20 million investment in cybersecurity and IT education will be the next phase in implementing the $89 million in workforce education funding Governor DeSantis announced in February. In 2019, Governor DeSantis set the goal of making Florida the number one state in the nation for workforce education by 2030, and to date, Florida has invested over $3.5 billion to expand workforce education and training programs in the state since 2019.
“In Florida, Governor DeSantis has prioritized workforce pathways for computer science, information technology professions, cybersecurity, and increasing training and resources for our educators and educational institutions to meet the demand of these high-demand professions,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “In particular, raising awareness and interest in cybersecurity at the K-12 level is crucial to meet the needs of businesses across Florida and create pathways for students to gain stackable skills that lead to professional credentials and high-wage employment in a sector that urgently needs a greater talent pool.”
This initiative is built on the state’s CTE audit and implementation of HB 1507 to shift K-12 and postsecondary course offerings in a manner that phases out low-demand, low-wage courses and introduces more high-demand, high-wage courses, stackable credentials, and pathways that best align Florida’s K-12 and postsecondary systems to workforce demands.
Globally, the shortage of cybersecurity professionals is estimated to be around 2.7 million. In Florida, there are about 22,000 unfilled cybersecurity-related jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that cybersecurity employment growth will be around 31 percent over the next few years, with average median wages around $104,000 annually.
The Florida Department of Education is working with Cyber Florida, the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida. Three regions will be awarded no less than $5 million to help with teacher certification, faculty hires, equipment purchases, and other costs associated with helping Florida’s districts, colleges, and universities offer high-quality degree and certificate programs that produce ready-to-hire graduates. They will help align their districts and colleges to ensure enough students are entering and completing cybersecurity programs to meet workforce demand.
Enrollment has increased by 37 percent since 2019, with nearly 5,000 students enrolling in cybersecurity-related pathways across Florida’s colleges with nearly 22,000 total enrollments across all technical colleges and the Florida College System. This critical funding will open doors for K-12 students as the demand for cybersecurity programs increases, giving them a head start into a sustainable and bright future.
Since 2019, Florida has made tremendous progress to advance workforce education:
- The Florida College System has added 11 CTE baccalaureate degree programs in high-value fields like healthcare, cybersecurity, and information technology in response to employer job demands;
- Access to apprenticeship programs has also expanded by registering 60 new programs for a total of more than 300; and
- There are more than 772,000 CTE students in Florida K-12 schools — the highest in state history — and more than 338,000 postsecondary CTE students.