A House committee OK’d a bill on Monday that would overhaul Florida’s Workforce Development System.
The House Appropriations Committee advanced the measure (HB 1507) with a unanimous vote. Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville is the bill sponsor.
Yarborough’s proposal contains a slew of provisions that aim to put a “better focus on the job seeker.”
Among them, the bill seeks to broaden access to job placement services, create job training program assessments and harmonize various agencies and programs.
The bill would also authorize the Governor to seek federal waivers to exercise greater spending flexibility regarding the state’s implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
“If we truly want to improve every Floridian’s opportunity to achieve self-sufficiency, we must take a system-wide approach,” Yarborough said.
The proposal advanced with two amendments by Democratic Rep. Ramon Alexander of Tallahassee.
One amendment revised the bill’s returned-value funding formula. Originally, the formula provided $1,000 to centers per student who earned a certification. Under the proposal, the formula would provide performance funds based on job placement and wages.
Ramon’s amendment would provide additional weight for “underserved populations.”
Yarborough’s bill comes as Florida job-seekers reel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Republican lawmaker noted that 58% of Floridians have either lost their job, lost hours or had their wages cut during the pandemic.
He also noted that the pandemic is disproportionately impacting Floridians with lower levels of education.
Floridians with a high school diploma or less, he explained, are experiencing the highest rates of job loss.
In turn, the bill would create a Money Back Guarantee Program.
According to a staff analysis, the program would refund tuition to students if they cannot find a job within six months of a program’s completion.
The tuition refund would apply to jobs deemed in-demand.
The bill moves next to the House Education and Employment Committee.
If signed into law, the measure would take effect July 1.