Communicating CTE: The Get There Florida Initiative

This post is the first in a series that will highlight innovative efforts by states to communicate the benefits of Career Technical Education (CTE) to key stakeholders including learners, families, policymakers and employers. Today’s post will dive into the Get There Florida campaign that launched in September 2020. 

Changing the CTE Narrative 

The Get There Florida initiative strives to increase enrollment in Florida’s 48 technical schools and 28 state colleges, specifically in high-value, short-term CTE programs that lead to a meaningful credential. The initiative is a statewide marketing campaign through earned, paid, and organic digital media led by the Florida Department of Education focused on changing the narrative on how students view state and technical colleges, and illustrating the quality and value of Florida’s short-term CTE programs for sustainable career pathways. The campaign is funded in part by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) grants through the CARES Act, aiming to assist postsecondary institutions in helping students enroll in and complete high-value, short-term CTE programs. 

Statewide and Personalized Approach 

Get There takes a two-pronged approach to enhance the CTE brand statewide while also providing students easy access to information at the institution level. The two main elements of the campaign are a customizable communications toolkit and a targeted digital campaign. 

Prior to the campaign launch, the Florida Department of Education established a working group of marketing and communications professionals from 12 technical and state colleges throughout the state to ensure messages and tools met the needs of their target audiences. 

The Get There communications toolkit provides a variety of materials produced by the Florida Department of Education that are ready-made for postsecondary institutions, but also provides files that allow institutions to customize the materials to meet their unique needs. The toolkit was made with small schools in mind that may not have the staff or resources to develop a large-scale marketing campaign. The full toolkit includes social media graphics, 15 and 30 second video clips, fliers and one pagers, press release and presentation templates, and logo files personalized for each school. 

On a statewide level, the Department is executing a hyper-targeted digital campaign targeted to prospective learners in areas close to a technical or state college. The Get There website serves as a central hub for users to explore Florida’s 17 Career ClustersⓇ, read student testimonials, and locate a convenient school on an interactive statewide map. 

A System-Wide Partnership 

One of the priorities of the Get There campaign is to connect with a population where the need for reskilling and upskilling is highest – displaced workers. Department staff developed a strong partnership with CareerSource Florida, the state’s workforce development agency that launched a Help is Here campaign in the spring focused on connecting displaced workers to career counseling and workforce training programs. The partnership has allowed the two campaigns to complement each other and provide much-needed support for students to overcome traditional barriers to accessing and completing postsecondary education. 

Henry Mack, Chancellor, Division of Career, Technical and Adult Education at the Florida Department of Education, believes Get There breaks new ground as a system-wide media campaign to advance shared goals. “Perhaps the most novel thing about the Get There Florida campaign is that it has never been done before, namely, there has never been a time where the state of Florida attempted a system-wide, integrated digital media outreach and recruitment campaign, said Mack. “Additionally, the development of a statewide resource toolkit, designed to provide materials to ALL colleges, has really transformed the way the state looks at marketing CTE, because for the first time we have a consistent brand and message that everyone has access to.” 

An Eye Towards Equity and Transformative Change 

While increasing enrollment at community and technical colleges is the primary goal, Get There is also the first step of a larger movement to raise awareness and build more connective pathways among K-12 programs, credentialing, apprenticeships and postsecondary institutions. 

Subsequent campaign phases launching this winter will focus on reaching more targeted audiences through toolkits with messages and materials that meet the unique needs of traditionally underserved populations, particularly individuals with disabilities and veterans. These toolkits were developed through partnerships with Florida’s Division of Blind Services, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, employU, Veterans Florida, and others. 

For more information, visit . If your state is interested in being featured in a future post, please contact Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement Stacy Whitehouse.

Stacy Whitehouse, Senior Associate for Communications and State Engagement

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