4 years of college education can cost up to 30 thousand dollars, and as anyone knows who’s been through it. A year of training one of Florida’s technical schools usually costs less than 3 thousand dollars, and jobs in the trades people learn there are almost always available—in fact, there is a shortage of able people to work in fields like nursing. But Adult education programs have seen budget cuts over the last several years, and are becoming less able to meet the needs of the community. WMNF’s Andrew Stelzer has this report.


Erwin technical school has 1100 hundred students; almost all of them are over 25 years old. People attending Erwin are there to get the training they need to get a job; they offer programs to become medical or dental assistants, electricians, auto mechanics, accountants, and many other fields where the way in the door is not a college degree, but the skills needed to do the job right.

Barbara Gulf is a typical example of an Erwin student:

"I’m a mother with kids"

But over the past 6 years, funding for the more than 50 technical schools in Florida has been steadily cut from 700 million dollars a year, to 640 million. Now school administrators are letting the students know that the results could be bad for people who want to get a stable position through what has become known as “workforce training.� Michael Donohue is the President of Erwin technical institute on East Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa.

ACT "The amount of money hasn't increased, lost counselors, programs closed�

There are three types of educational bodies funded by the state, Donohue explains; kindergarten through 12th grade, college, including community colleges, and technical schools for workforce training.

ACT "When 911 hit, we all got funding cut..3 years alter and workforce has never come back"

State legislators are considering redirecting the funds that go to technical and workforce training programs, into community colleges. But students and school administrators say there’s a big difference. Rashad is studying graphic design at Erwin.

ACT “Community college and university isn't for everyone'

The governor wants to increase funding for technical schools by only 4 million, the senate wants 2 million, and the house wants 10. But according to Donohue, any of these amounts, once split between the all of the states over 50 workforce education programs, leaves each school without enough money to improve or even stop cutting programs. Donohue says this is shortsighted spending by state legislators.

ACT "A student leaves Erwin..They make....

Ashanta Karri, who is in a yearlong program to become a licensed practical nurse, agrees.

ACT Before I was a customer service rep...After this ill be making ...2 years versus 3 years..."

House member Dennis Baxley has been the biggest supporter of increased funding for technical schools, but it seems that the political will may not exist in the legislature, because funding these programs can be seen as taking money away from children’s education. But Kenneth Shelton, who’s in a 6-month program to be an electrician, says that legislators need to understand the opportunity which technical schools give to people.

ACT (Kenneth Shelton Some people need another chance... they’ve had hard times

The house and senate will be submitting their final budgets later this week.

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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