Polytechnic University Launch Draws Attention to Florida’s Innovation Needs

“Innovation occurs when research and creativity are applied to real-world challenges.”

Before even opening their doors, Florida Polytechnic University’s main goal has echoed throughout our state, and mirrors the Florida Chamber’s 2030 and beyond planning focus: we must prepare Florida’s students for STEM-related careers.

“Florida Polytechnic’s inaugural class will include 500 freshman, transfer and graduate students all hoping to pursue STEM-related careers in the high-tech industry when they graduate,” said Crystal Lauderdale, a spokesperson for Florida Polytechnic “We know how important STEM education is to developing our state’s economy, and at Florida Poly, that economic development is a big part of our mission and focus.”

Indeed, the newest member of the State University System of Florida is the state’s only public university dedicated wholly to STEM career paths, where students can major in anything from a B.S. in Computer Engineering to an M.S. in Innovation and Technology. The Lakeland university’s difference is their focus on integrated, technologically-based learning models, that give students hands-on experience and allow them to graduate ready to enter the competitive high-tech workforce.

Florida has come a long way – our education reforms are working, and our students continue to rank high in the nation and the world on renowned tests. But even so, the move toward a STEM-dedicated university comes at a time when Florida is facing a serious skills and talent gap.

While job growth through 2021 will be about 12 percent, data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity shows STEM discipline growth projections at more than double that. If Florida does not possess a robust talent pipeline in STEM fields, job creators will be forced to move elsewhere to recruit highly-skilled talent.

“At the Florida Chamber of Commerce, we know securing our state’s future means embracing innovation and technology,” said Adam Giery, Director of Education, Talent and Quality of Life Policy at the Florida Chamber. “In June, there were more than 53,000 unfilled STEM jobs in our state. At a higher education level, our state needs to focus on providing an adequate talent pool so our manufacturing, international, construction, aerospace and other STEM-related industries have the talent they need to grow.”

Tell Us Your Story:

Why does STEM matter to your business? Share your story with us! Join the discussion on Florida’s emerging talent gaps and be a part of the solution at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2014 Future of Florida Forum and Annual Board of Governors Meeting Sept. 28-Oct 1 in Orlando. Click here to register or view the agenda.

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