Since the mid-1990s, state governments in the United States have pursued a confusing series of weak and strong roles on workforce development, acting either as weak sisters to the federal government or as big cops-onthe- block in relation to small business.
This confusion has led Florida legislators to assume “market failure” in labor markets when no failure is evident. Indeed, the failure is most notably with the internally produced state education system, which has placed Florida at the low end of comparisons with other states.
State legislatures are specifically permitted by the U.S. Supreme Court to resist federal program intrusions and mandates in the workforce policy field. In Florida, legislators have not yet embraced this notion, with deleterious results.
In addition to big government mandates from Washington, the workforce regime has steadily grown in the state since the mid-1990s. The current Workforce Innovation Act is a behemoth of state largess, government regulation, and threats to commercial enterprise.
Through the Workforce Innovation Act, regional workforce boards, and one-stop career centers, the state is putting staffing services (employment) agencies out of business. We examine the case of the Citrus, Levy, and Manatee Regional Workforce Board and its one-stops as egregious examples of state competition with private enterprise.
Similarly, the private sector has faced a lack of support from state and local government agencies when industry coalitions have launched “better, faster, cheaper” training programs. A program in Sarasota/Manatee counties challenged the expertise and productivity of the state vo-tech community college training programs and was canceled for its efforts. The Florida Center for Manufacturing Excellence and its CareerWorks program is our case in point.
We conclude by recommending that the state of Florida remove itself from the staffing services business and, in addition, we suggest that its agencies should live up to their own rhetoric on assisting private sector training initiatives. We also recommend that Workforce Florida, Inc., the state?s workforce bureaucracy, should be required to comply with certain sections of the Workforce Innovation Act in order to mitigate damage to the staffing services industry in the state.