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Florida Chamber: Employers Need to Keep Improving Education for a Better Workforce

Florida Chamber: Employers Need to Keep Improving Education for a Better Workforce

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More Floridians than ever are finding great careers. But Florida still has a skills gap problem. Did you know at least half a million Floridians are unemployed, even though more than 250,000 jobs are open and waiting for the right person?

Today’s employers have open, high-wage jobs. Employers get hundreds of applications, but very few have the needed skills. The good news for employers is that Florida’s education reforms are working – closing the achievement gaps and producing graduates that are better prepared to enter the workforce.

As students throughout Florida go back to school this month, I’m reminded that a quality education is quickly becoming the new economic development currency. As Florida Chamber board member Kevin Bowyer of Warren Averett in Destin said in a recent letter to the Pensacola News Journal editor, “Florida’s students no longer compete with students from other states, they’re competing with students from other countries.”

At the Florida Chamber of Commerce, we believe that a quality education and workforce development system will enable Floridians to compete in the 21st century global economy. The pathway to a high-wage job must begin at the earliest of ages – after all, 85 percent of brain growth occurs by age three. Preparing Florida’s youngest students to learn provides a foundation that will prepare them for success.

Building on that foundation must continue throughout a student’s education. Rigorous standards in Florida’s classrooms are further helping students become excellent readers, write well, think critically and develop other soft skills.

Florida’s education system includes a special focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). STEM is peaking an interest in future high-wage employment sectors, and further helping students focus on career and college readiness while developing the skills needed to enter one of Florida’s higher education institutions.

Thanks to Florida’s innovative education system, students that choose a different education path are also learning the skills needed to land high-wage jobs.

When students transition to the workforce, their learning journey doesn’t necessarily end. That’s because it’s estimated that employees will have at least eight jobs in their lifetime, meaning that skills development must continue by engaging in workforce training or obtaining key certifications through Florida’s nationally recognized workforce training system.

But success is never final, and that’s a sentiment Florida Chamber board member Will Weatherford, of Weatherford Partners in Wesley Chapel, expressed in a recent letter to the Tampa Bay Times. “As a father of four and a former Speaker of the House, I know firsthand that Florida has seen successful education reforms. But more is needed to ensure students are prepared for global competition.”

As I said during our recent 2015 Florida Education Summit, Florida must continue raising expectations to make our education system even more competitive. When Florida’s businesses invest in our future workforce, today’s learners become tomorrow’s earners. With your support, the Florida Chamber will continue putting students first and we’ll keep pushing back against special interests that seek to put others before students.

When Florida’s education system wins, Florida wins.

THREE WAYS YOU CAN HELP

  1. WATCH & SHARE this video with your employees, colleagues and friends.
  2. BECOME PART OF THE SOLUTION by attending the Future of Florida Forum, September 28-30 in Orlando. Click here for a special invitation from State University System Chancellor Marshall Criser III.
  3. JOIN the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Talent Supply & Education Caucus by contacting KElekes@FLFoundation.org.

Article courtesy of the Florida Chamber of Commerce

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