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Florida Chamber Foundation Welcomes Florida Virtual School’s Sam Verghese to its Future of Work Florida Initiative Advisory Board

Bringing back the coolness of skilled trades and uniting to create America’s best workforce

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Work Florida Initiative proudly welcomes Sam Verghese, Florida Virtual School Chief Operating Officer, as a new Advisory Board member.

“There is a massive information gap between employers and job seekers, between today’s students and career opportunities that they may pursue,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mark Wilson. “As a result, the Future of Work Florida Initiative seeks to champion the value of work and raise awareness of career possibilities to close the existing workforce skills gap and enhance Florida’s future talent pipeline.”

Historically, the popular narrative has been that 4-year degrees are the only way to have good careers. Now, our economy has an increasing deficit in workers who fill essential skilled trades. In order to continue to move the needle and support growth of Florida’s population and economy, it is necessary that we change the narrative around career and technical education (CTE), skilled trades, apprenticeships and other career pathways outside of a traditional 4-year university track. While once labeled as “dirty, dumb, and dangerous,” our research shows “next Florida” jobs of the future in skilled trades are “clean, innovative, and lucrative.”

“Florida’s businesses and educators are key to drive the cultural shift needed to present skilled trades as a necessary path for the future workforce. We need to work together to champion the value of work, create complete career awareness, and highlight the benefits that come with skilled trades, CTEs, apprenticeships, and other career paths outside the traditional four-year degree,” said Florida Virtual School Chief Operating Officer Sam Verghese.

On its path to becoming a top 10 global economy, Florida needs to create an estimated 1.62 million net new jobs by the year 2030. However, with 499,371 open jobs currently and only 313,000 people actively looking for work, there are far more open jobs than people actively looking for employment.

Approximately 72% of Florida’s business leaders report having trouble recruiting qualified candidates. Additionally, 58.4% of businesses anticipate the need to provide current employees with reskilling/upskilling to meet emerging workforce needs. This disparity can be further explored through the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Florida Workforce Needs Study, which indicates that the most in-demand skilled trades and technical professions are lacking available qualified talent to meet Florida’s current and future economic needs.

The Future of Work Florida Initiative has created a multi-year plan to unite and harness the power of thousands of Florida businesses, dozens of local chambers and economic development groups, education partners, HR leaders, hiring managers and more, to turn this workforce crisis into a competitive strength for Florida.

Other inaugural Future of Work Florida Initiative Advisory Board members include David Cross, Coca-Cola Beverages Florida SVP, HR & Administration; Sarah Marmion, Florida Power & Light Company’s Manager of Education and Outreach Centers; Bill Solomon, Indian River State College’s Dean of Workforce Education & Advanced Technology; and Mike Brannen, Miller Electric Company’s SVP of Industrial and Workforce Development.

To learn more about the Future of Work Florida Initiative, visit

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