Florida’s 2021 Reimagining Education and Career Help Act, known as the REACH Act, is a comprehensive blueprint for enhancing access, alignment, and accountability across the state’s workforce development system. Implementation of the REACH Act is a priority of the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors.
REACH Act Implementation
Signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, the REACH Act positions Florida to help people with barriers to education and employment become self-sufficient through enhanced access to good jobs and career pathways that offer economic opportunity.
As the state’s principal workforce policy organization, CareerSource Florida is exploring approaches to aligning Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards, consistent with the charge for reducing the number of local boards under the Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act. The REACH Act seeks to achieve a more coordinated approach in delivering and using essential workforce development resources and services through enhanced alignment and accountability.
The REACH Act seeks to improve accountability in the workforce system. The law calls for the REACH Office within the Executive Office of the Governor to develop criteria for assigning a letter grade to each local workforce development board and for CareerSource Florida to assign and make public the letter grades annually. The criteria will be based on local board performance accountability measures and return on investment with the majority of the grade based on improvement by each local board in the long-term self-sufficiency of participants.
Empowered by Florida’s landmark REACH Act, the Credentials Review Committee establishes a definition for credentials of value, creates a framework of quality, and identifies non-degree and degree credentials of value to ensure instructional programs prepare Floridians for in-demand occupations.
The REACH Act seeks to improve the strategic alignment and coordination of education and workforce initiatives through an online opportunity portal, allowing access to state, federal, and local services and tools. The new portal, developed by the state Department of Economic Opportunity, will provide Floridians broader access to education and training options, labor market information, career planning tools, workforce training, and education support.
What is the REACH Act?
The Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act is bi-partisan, unanimously approved state legislation signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on June 24, 2021. The REACH Act, which took effect July 1, 2021, was created to address the evolving needs of Florida’s economy by increasing the level of collaboration and cooperation among state businesses and education communities while improving training within and equity and access to a more integrated workforce and education system for all Floridians. Among its requirements, the REACH Act charges the state with reducing the number of local workforce development boards “based on population size and commuting patterns.”
The law takes an integrated, collaborative approach to strengthen partnerships and enhance access to education, training and employment opportunities within and across key workforce, education and support services systems that are the backbone of Florida’s comprehensive workforce development ecosystem.
Under the REACH Act, this ecosystem for talent pipeline development includes CareerSource Florida, the state workforce development board; Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards and the 100 career centers they oversee; the Department of Economic Opportunity; the Department of Education; the State College System; the State University System; and the Department of Children and Families.
The landmark 118-page legislation sets expectations and challenges Florida to make a good talent pipeline development ecosystem even better through transformation focused on improvements to alignment of, access to and equity in Florida’s workforce and education systems leading to stronger outcomes.
How does the REACH Act say the number of local workforce development boards will be determined?
Pages 44-45 of the REACH Act outline the following as considerations in the alignment of local workforce development boards:
(4) WAIVERS. —The department (state Department of Economic Opportunity) shall prepare a federal waiver for the Governor to submit to the United States Department of Labor that:
(a) Allows the state board (CareerSource Florida Board of Directors) to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of local workforce development boards or that reduces the number of local workforce development boards based on population and commuting patterns to:
- Eliminate multiple layers of administrative entities to improve coordination of the workforce development system.
- Establish consistent eligibility standards across the state to improve the accountability of workforce-related programs.
- Provide greater flexibility in allocating resources to maximize the funds directed to training and business services.
(b) Allows the Governor to reallocate funds among local areas that have a demonstrated need for additional funding and programmatic outcomes that will maximize the use of the additional funds to serve low-income individuals, public assistance recipients, dislocated workers and unemployment insurance claimants.
Read the full REACH Act legislation.
How will workforce services be impacted if the number of local workforce development boards is reduced?
The REACH Act aims to improve services for job seekers, workers and businesses by increasing collaboration, coordination and consistency. The needs of customers will guide the evaluation process. Ensuring every Florida community continues to receive quality employment and training services remain a top priority. The needs of customers will guide the alignment evaluation process that will affect any recommendations for the consolidation of local workforce development boards and the directly related redesignation of local workforce development areas.
Who is leading the alignment evaluation process?
The statewide implementation of the REACH Act is being led by and coordinated through the Governor’s REACH Office. CareerSource Florida is coordinating the evaluation of alignment considerations for local workforce development boards in collaboration with the Department of Economic Opportunity and the REACH Office, with input from state and local leaders in business, education and workforce development, representatives of customer groups and other stakeholders including local elected officials. In collaboration with the Governor’s REACH Office, CareerSource Florida is undertaking a multi-phase, data-driven initiative with multiple opportunities for state and local stakeholder engagement and input to help shape the research, evaluation process and resulting recommendations.
What principles are guiding the alignment evaluation process?
CareerSource Florida, in collaboration with the Governor’s REACH Office, identified the following guiding principles to serve as a guide in the alignment evaluation process:
- Prioritize implementation of the state Reimagining Education and Career Help (REACH) Act and legislative directive to enhance alignment and accountability that follows federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) criteria.
- Identify considerations that are responsive to the needs of job seekers and business customers while prioritizing access to services and maximizing available resources.
- Commit to an open and transparent process in every phase of work.
- Engage in holistic listening to drive transformative solutions.
- Communicate proactively to audiences and stakeholders throughout the journey.
How can a new alignment of local workforce development boards improve outcomes for Floridians?
The redesignation process can help lead Florida’s local workforce development boards in the response to the evolution in consumer preferences, workplace expectations, business needs, how people look for work, and even where and how they work. The goal is to deliver even more relevant services through system transformation and therefore improved outcomes for customers. The REACH Act emphasizes a customer-focused approach in exploring ways to better assist job seekers and businesses.
Is one option to maintain services as they currently exist?
The REACH Act specifically references reducing the number of local workforce development boards based on population and commuting patterns. Other relevant factors to achieve the act’s desired goal may be considered.
What is the process of evaluating alignment options for local workforce development boards?
As the Governor’s principal workforce development policy organization, CareerSource Florida is conducting a research and discovery process that includes listening to local workforce development board leaders, elected officials, leaders in business and education and other stakeholders. This work is being conducted in collaboration with the Governor’s REACH Office. As part of the alignment evaluation process, CareerSource Florida has contracted with EY (Ernst & Young LLP) to conduct research and discovery. This includes listening to stakeholders, analyzing data, and examining solutions implemented in other states.
Initial observations from Phase One were reported to the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors on June 9, 2022, with EY’s findings report published on careersourceflorida.com in July. The second phase of this multi-phase initiative launched in September 2022. Phase Two includes a deeper analysis and more robust engagement with local stakeholders and customers across the state, including more than 150 online and in-person meetings/interviews.
Alignment considerations that will affect the redesignation of local workforce development areas and the potential consolidation of local workforce development boards are anticipated to be provided to the CareerSource Florida Board of Directors by early 2023.
How can I share my point of view on the alignment evaluation process?
In addition to the more than 150 by-invitation local engagement sessions for local workforce development board leaders, chief local elected officials, businesses, and other stakeholders occurring from September 2022-January 2023, you may share your feedback for consideration using the Alignment Feedback Form.
What is the timeline for the process?
CareerSource Florida has concluded the first phase of discovery and listening. Beginning in August, Phase Two will include a deeper analysis and more robust engagement with stakeholders and customers across the state. Alignment considerations are anticipated to be provided to the CareerSource Florida Board by early 2023.
What data and potential approaches will be considered in alignment discussions?
CareerSource Florida is continuing this alignment evaluation work in response to the REACH Act with in-depth data analysis and stakeholder engagement. Numerous sources of public information available through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity were used to inform the research, discovery and findings of Phase One, which can be found in the findings report. For Phase Two, the consulting firm EY will examine numerous factors identified as essential for realignment considerations by the REACH Act, the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and CareerSource Florida.
Has alignment taken place in other states? If so, what can we learn?
Yes. Alignment and changes in how services are delivered are being discussed nationally and are taking place in multiple states, including North Carolina, Iowa, and Tennessee. Consulting firm EY researched other states that have undertaken alignment actions, and those findings were included in their Phase One findings report this summer. Additional research is being conducted as part of Phase Two, and that report, which will include alignment options to address the REACH Act requirement for the reduction of local workforce development boards, will be shared on the CareerSource Florida website in January 2023.
How can alignment benefit the 24 local workforce development boards, Florida counties, and the businesses and job seekers served by the state workforce system?
The objective of the REACH Act is to provide Florida job seekers and businesses with better aligned and more effective workforce and education systems while enhancing services, equity, and access for all by:
- Eliminating multiple layers of administrative entities to improve coordination of the workforce development system.
- Establishing consistent eligibility standards across the state to improve the accountability of workforce-related programs.
- Providing greater flexibility in allocating resources to maximize the funds directed to training and business services.
Where can I get more information?
This REACH Act webpage has up-to-date information about the REACH Act and the ongoing engagement process. Updates will be provided through every phase of the process. You can also submit questions or comments using the Alignment Feedback form.