Over the last week, news outlets have reported that call center staff lack proper training to assist callers. Earlier this month, Governor Ron DeSantis boasted about his actions to cut call center training from ten to two days.
On May 11, First Coast News reported that call center staff who stated they couldn’t assist callers with answers to their specific claim and received very little training.
On May 13, NBC 2 reported that unemployment call center staff had “alleged chaos inside the state’s call centers.” Staff had told NBC 2 that call center staff couldn’t do their jobs assisting callers trying to navigate the unemployment system. By May 14, News Channel 8 reported that DEO claimed they provided additional training to 200 call center staffers.
Issues of limited training are corroborated by Governor Ron DeSantis’s own statements at a May 4 press conference. In which DeSantis said staff were receiving too much training and presented a slide highlighting how he cut training for unemployment call center employees by 80 percent.
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, called on DeSantis to provide additional training. She also reiterated that he and Republicans in the legislature need to expand eligibility and benefits to more Floridians who have lost their jobs:
“Governor DeSantis bragged that he slashed training for staff answering questions from unemployed Floridians. Now we are seeing reports that call centers are in chaos and staff are unable to assist Floridians in desperate need. Shortcuts won’t fix our state’s broken unemployment system. Governor DeSantis, it’s time to take action and fix this system, expand eligibility requirements, and increase benefits.”
Transcript from 10 minutes into DeSantis’s May 4 press conference [emphasis added]:
DESANTIS: One of the things I was worried about when we kinda got into this, the DEO thought the website was good. So they’re more concern was about being empty-handed. Not having enough people there. So I said you got to have people that can answer the phone because the just didn’t have enough. And they didn’t do it right away, once I got John Satter in there, very quickly we went from 50 to 75 to 2000 call center agents. And the training for call center folks before we made changes, it took them three weeks just to train one person to take phone calls.
So when DEO came to me and said that, I said that’s unacceptable. What are you gonna do, train for three weeks? So John put in a 24-hour training and they will be able to get people there for the pin and then two days for the call center, so that’s allowed us to really beef that up.”