If you had to guess the number of open jobs in Florida, could you? It’s probably a lot more than you think. Nearly 500,000 Floridians are currently unemployed, and yet Florida has more than 260,000 open jobs – many of them in high-skill, high-wage industries.
Florida’s skills gap is a big challenge and with an additional 6 million residents expected by 2030, there is no better time to address it than now. While there is no quick fix, there are many things we can do to better match Floridians with good-paying job opportunities in their communities.
The first is to ensure that every student graduates from high school ready for success in college and career. While Florida’s statewide high school graduation rate has climbed over the past 12 years, one in five students still doesn’t graduate on time or at all. These students lose out on $250,000 in lifetime financial earnings.
While Miami-Dade has a higher graduation rate than the statewide average, 20 percent of our residents still live in poverty. Imagine what quality career training could mean in their lives.
There are many different paths to a successful career. One possible solution is to utilize programs that give students on-the-job experience and training, such as apprenticeship programs. The best part of programs like these are that workers gain new skills and apply what they learn in a professional setting, all while earning a paycheck.
It will take Florida’s business community and education leaders working together to improve our schools and workforce systems in order to give our students the best chance at success. If you are interested in collaborating on solutions to Florida’s current and future skills gap, then I hope you will join me at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2016 Learners to Earners Education Summit on June 2 in Orlando.
Together, we can prepare today’s learners to become tomorrow’s earners.
Carolyn Bermudez is Vice President of Operations and General Manager, Florida City Gas