As the school year gears up, students throughout Florida are meeting new teachers and preparing for new classes. Many are also thinking about graduating from high school and their future direction. Today’s information-based economy and the workforce students are stepping into is very different from their grandparents’ workforce.
In 1973, workers with postsecondary education held only 28 percent of jobs. As we look forward to 2020, that figure rises dramatically. In the not too distant future, 65 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school.
Preparing students to graduate career and college ready has a new meaning in our 21st century global economy. In addition to core subjects such as reading, math and science, today’s students must also master key skills such as critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration.
Dr. Jim Murdaugh, President of Tallahassee Community College (TCC) recently appeared on The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line. When asked about education and the talent development pipeline in Florida, Murdaugh said, “The way in which we talk about it [talent] today has a new flavor. We recognize the importance of the men and women that work in our organizations as it relates to our bottom line and our productivity. It’s not so much about jobs but about skills and making sure people have the right skills. Talent is what businesses need to focus on because it’s 80-90 percent of their entire cost of operation.”
While the skills required for today’s workforce are numerous, so are the opportunities and choices students have as they plan their future. Community and state colleges play vital roles in preparing tomorrow’s workforce and offer a variety of technical training and certification programs as well as providing two-year college degrees. They also have the flexibility and ability to evolve and customize their programs in response to the needs of their region’s economy.
“TCC and community colleges throughout Florida provide the education and training required for our state’s workforce needs,” said Murdaugh. “Through our partnerships with local businesses, the Department of Economic Development and CareerSource Florida, we are able to provide a better trained, better skilled talent pool.”
As students consider their future path, Career and Professional Education (CAPE) academies offer other options. CAPE academies allow students to earn industry certifications, preparing them with job skills needed in a variety of industries including avionics, biomedicine, diesel mechanics and information technology.
And while many consider preparing students to be career and college ready a K-12 issue, this preparation actually begins at birth. Early childhood education, particularly between ages 0-8, is essential for a child’s development of both cognitive and non-cognitive skills. Preparing our youngest students to learn provides a solid foundation and helps them develop important skills that are essential to their future success in school.
The Florida Chamber Foundation has established the Business Alliance for Early Learning that will focus on tackling a number of issues impacting children ages 0-8. If you would like more information on this initiative, click here.
With postsecondary education or training becoming the norm for today’s workforce rather than the exception, it becomes even more important for students to begin learning these 21st century skills. To help accomplish this, the Florida Department of Education implemented the Florida Standards, the next generation of standards that focuses on improving student’s critical thinking skills to ensure more successful outcomes after graduation. These standards are designed to help Florida’s students begin to develop the skills needed to be successful as well as cultivate a workforce that will benefit Florida’s economic development and global competitiveness.
As we begin the new school year, the Florida Chamber Foundation continues to support and highlight our state’s Champions for Career and College Readiness. In upcoming issues of the Champions newsletter, we will focus on university programs and their role in preparing Florida’s talent pipeline.
Interested in being a part of the Career and College Readiness program? Let us know! Join Tallahassee Community College and our growing list of organizations and business leaders by telling your story. If your organization is partnering or conducting activities with a local school or school-related organization that helps students prepare for a 21st century workforce, we would like to feature your organization in our next Champions newsletter. Contact Tracey Lowe at TLowe@FLFoundation.org for more information.