As the Florida Chamber of Commerce celebrates 100 years of securing Florida’s Future, we’re shining a light on Florida leaders that are dedicated to Florida’s long-term future –partners like Keiser University, Florida Chamber members since 2001.
In a recent interview with Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor of Community and Student Advancement for Keiser University, she shared exactly why partnerships with organizations like the Florida Chamber matter to our state’s long-term future.
“As a Florida-founded organization, Keiser University joins the Florida Chamber in their mission of ‘leading Florida to a new and sustainable economy,’” said Keiser. “Similar to the Florida Chamber, we are guided by a strategic vision, and the ability for our graduates to compete in our state and global marketplace is a priority. The Florida Chamber’s accountable commitment to solutions, actions, and leadership to secure our state’s future is one of the primary reasons we have renewed our membership year after year.”
The Florida Chamber knows that Florida’s economic development cannot continue to grow without a focus on a quality education system. A focus on higher education initiatives goes hand-in-hand with a competitive workforce.
According to Keiser, “The ability to compete head-on through cultivation of our talent is critical. Encouraging Florida businesses to continue creating innovative educational partnerships which provide students access to internships, tuition reimbursement, employment opportunities, scholarships, mentoring, and study abroad programs, will maximize a student’s educational experience and encourage entrepreneurship. When students (and families) invest in education and they see how their preparation allows them to achieve their professional goals, the impact becomes generational.”
Florida will also have unique workforce issues to address between now and 2030, especially in the areas of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
In fact, the Florida Chamber Foundation estimates by the year 2030, Florida needs to create and fill two million net new jobs, including 65,000 STEM jobs that are still needing to be filled today.
“The challenges include meeting the professional and career workforce needs and creating opportunities to attract companies in high-wage, high-tech fields in the most targeted industries such as: aerospace, logistics, transportation and distribution, information technology, and the life sciences including nursing, which continues to be the top occupation in demand with nearly 15,000 openings across the state,” said Keiser. “Florida must continue to attract companies who will grow our economy by expanding our current businesses, launching new ventures, and promoting an environment where Florida’s small business owners can continue to thrive. Higher education needs to be responsive to their needs, listening to industry advisors – which Keiser University has nearly 2,000 – who guide and foster major economic development and business advancement in our state.”
Keiser University was started 40 years ago and prides itself on its strategic vision for a better Florida. This is one reason why the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Six Pillars framework is important and has helped overcome some of the education challenges that Florida has faced in years past.
“Identifying ‘Talent Supply and Education’ as one of the Six Pillars for Florida’s future has generated awareness, solutions, and action on these challenges. The Florida Chamber continues to collaborate with Enterprise Florida, Workforce Florida, Space Florida, and other groups to bring attention and resolve to our state’s higher educational needs,” said Keiser. “This focus should result in more degrees earned by 2030, the year which the Florida Chamber noted, Florida will be serving an additional six million residents; and, we will be prepared.”
While the fight is far from over, Florida is headed in the right direction. With initiatives to help improve early learning opportunities, attract and retain world class talent while pushing for a highly-skilled, competitive talent pool, partners like Keiser University help continue the fight for free enterprise.
When asked how Keiser University envisions the next 100 years of Florida’s education future will look, Keiser addressed innovation and global competitiveness.
“There must be more focus on innovation and entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Keiser. By 2030, 50 percent of existing businesses will cease, however, new opportunities continue to abound. The biggest growth in our economy is in small business. Keiser University is establishing a Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Global Leadership, because we envision these will be the areas in which Florida’s graduates can excel over the next 100 years. In an international marketplace, students must be prepared to compete globally, excel, and have a desire to serve as a core value.”
The Florida Chamber supports its partners and echoes Belinda Keiser’s thoughts that, “by working together, we help graduates to gain a career that will allow them to provide for their families, become leaders in their industry, and realize their dreams.”