Advancing Florida’s Career and Technical Education through Entrepreneurship Education and Training

Economic growth is driven by the creative applications of new technologies and entrepreneurs that are constantly bringing new products and services to market. Communities with effective and accessible resources of learning yield educated populations, which in turn create innovative products and further economic growth. Business equity is the second largest source of wealth behind home equity, and for special populations, self-employment, and the ability to effectively create value contributes to Florida’s greater economic security.

According to the Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship, which tracks and reports entrepreneurial trends in the U.S., Florida ranks second among all states on the Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index. In 2019, Kauffman reported that more than 88 percent of all new entrepreneurs in the state created a business by choice rather than necessity, and first-year startups created an average of 6.37 new jobs.

It is vital that Florida students graduate as critical thinkers, value creators and excellent communicators,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Entrepreneurship education and training ensures for a well-rounded graduate, and this is another step toward our goal to make Florida the best state in the nation for workforce education by 2030.”

“Being an entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur – an employee who can add value from within – is a viable path to improving Florida’s economic and social mobility rates. CTE does not just prepare students to take jobs, but to create the jobs of the future,” said Commissioner Corcoran. “The idea is that we do not want to just technically train, but to also equip all students with the necessary employability skills.”

FLATE is committed to help execute the vision of Florida’s Strengthening Career and Technical
Education (CTE) for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) by providing accessible resources to support the creation of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem for the state’s CTE students.

FLATE has compiled a list of resources focused on entrepreneurship curriculum, mentorship, and online tools with topics to include but not limited to basic principles of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship as a career, ethics in business, and the principles of marketing, financing, and managing a business.  Click here for the complete list of Entrepreneurial Education Resources. 

In addition, FLATE has prepared a list of Florida colleges offering entrepreneurship education and training (EET) and related programs.  The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Entrepreneurship Education & Training (EET) program is designed to introduce students in CTE programs to the mindset required of successful entrepreneurs, while guiding and developing their entrepreneurial skills. Part of the EET program includes foundational entrepreneurial skills which will be embedded directly into Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum starting Fall 2021 to assist high school students in developing labor market-relevant employability skills and inspire them to continue their training in postsecondary programs of study. Click here for the list of Florida Department of Education(FDOE) sponsored colleges offering Entrepreneurship Education & Training (EET) and related programs.

For more information click here or contact Elizabeth Winger, State Supervisor for Business Management & Administration Education at 850-245-9003.

2021 MFG Month Student Events Get Creative to Work Around Pandemic Challenges

Manufacturing Month kicked off on Friday, October 1st in Florida and around the country. Although coronavirus pandemic challenges persist and some in-person student events have been cancelled or postponed, many MFG Month coordinators have created new ways to continue showing students the many great careers available to them in the manufacturing industry.

Here are a few of the student events celebrating Manufacturing Month in Florida this October.  It's not
too late to plan your event! Share details of your event on social media - use #MFGDAY21.

In Northeast Florida, a Virtual MFG Month Panel "Making the Future in Northeast Florida" was held on October 1st.  Over 90 students participated from Baker, Clay, Duval, Putnam and St. Johns Counties.  There were students from 7 different high schools as well as from the Florida State College at Jacksonville.  The event was coordinated by CareerSource Northeast Florida and First Coast Manufacturer's Association.

In Central East Florida, the Brevard County MFG Job Fair will be held on October 7th at CareerSource Brevard. And on October 14th, the Made in Tampa Bay Expo & Job Fair will be held at CareerSource Tampa Bay.  Students from high schools and colleges in those areas are welcomed to attend.  Both will have multiple manufacturers available to talk about the career opportunities at their companies.

The Bay Area Manufacturer's Association (BAMA) in the Tampa Bay area has worked with Hillsborough and Pinellas County School Districts to create the Great Manufacturing Month Teach-In for October 19th.  On that day in both counties, teachers will log-in through zoom for ten minutes at the top of each hour for a Q&A with local manufacturers.  Each participating industry partner has provided a virtual tour of their facilities for students to watch prior to October 19th.

At least 13 schools in Polk County will be attending a virtual MFG Month Panel Discussion on October 27th.  Local manufacturers will sit on the panel to share information about their companies and answer student questions.  Videos about the companies will be available for students to view prior to attending. The event was coordinated by Polk State College, Polk County Public Schools.

And on October 28th, a MFG Month and DEAM (Disability Employment Awareness Month) Virtual Panel will be held for High School High Tech students from across the State of Florida.  The event was coordinated by The Able Trust and FLATE to share with them the great careers in Florida's manufacturing sector and the education needed to get there.

If you have events to share or would like help planning your event, please reach out to FLATE at

Palm Beach State College Begins New Industry 4.0 Program: Smart Factory Training

Eva Suarez, Professor and Department Chair for Engineering Technology at Palm Beach State College (PBSC), and her team reached out to local industry partners and asked them for specifics on what knowledge,  skills and abilities future graduates should have.  As Suarez puts it, "Our degrees aren't really worth anything until they're relevant to companies, especially locally."  What they discovered is that almost all companies were looking for students trained in Industry 4.0 skills, those related to new and emerging technologies in the workplace. 

Rick Reeder, PBSC's Program Grant Coordinator, added that "the jobs are there for well-trained technicians in thh field of Industry 4.0 or mechatronics and it's up to us to qualify students for these positions."  The requirements profile that was created from these discussions with industry was used to plan a new Industry 4.0 program, including curriculum and lab equipment as well as faculty and staff.  In order to meet the needs of 47,000 students across five different campuses, the program would need to be run at two campuses, each with Industry 4.0 Smart Labs.

The grant, requested from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, was approved and the team was able to move forward quickly.  Within a few months, Smart Factory Training labs were created at both the Palm Beach Gardens and Lake Worth campuses, using Lucas-Nuelle Industry 4.0 equipment.  Suarez emphasized the importance of quality, modular lab equipment:

"The systems give students hands-on experience.  They can see the components and work with them. That came closest to our goal of students being able to start on the job immediately after completing our program without hours of additional training from the employer."

The grant funding included professors for the first phase for each campus: Dr. Robert O'Dea, PhD Electrical Engineering and Mr. Christian Acosta, a Nuclear Engineer, both with extensive industry experience. They began with beta testing while the coronovirus pandemic limited student attendance. Suarez shared that during this time "one of our very talented students developed detailed work instructions for the other students."

Through the new program, PBSC will ensure that student credit certificates and associate degrees represent Industry 4.0 skills.  Suarez states that "the college continues to improve the hands-on labs so that students will benefit from the latest technology and be ready to apply what they learned at the hiring company."  Industry partners who worked with the team on the project included SV Microwave (West Palm Beach), Keith Inc. (Pompano Beach), Trevjicos (Belle Glades) and Pratt & Whitney among many others.  Many hire PBSC students as interns and keep them as full time employees when they finish they education.

In other news, Palm Beach State College started a new concentration, Advanced Manufacturing, geared to automated and robotized industry in Florida.  Advanced Manufacturing delivers courses in mechatronics, automation, lean manufacturing and six sigma robotics, preparing the student to be a problem-solving contributor to the manufacturing industry in the area.  The college is also expanding the Engineering Technology program across the county, with classes at Belle Glades and Boca Raton, besides the already established programs at Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens.