Developing a Workforce for Florida’s Future

The Florida Chamber Foundation’s focus on planning from the future begins at the community level. By employing strategies that allow collaboration between community leaders and businesses of all sizes, the Florida Chamber Foundation has fueled initiatives that focus on developing a workforce for Florida’s future. One such initiative is the Six Pillars Community- an effort led by Community Development Partners across the state that serves as the framework for developing and communicating community-based strategic plans.

A Six Pillars Community is organized around the six pillars framework that has made the Florida Chamber Foundation a success: Talent and Education, Innovation and Growth Management, Infrastructure and Growth Leadership, Business Climate and Competitiveness, Civic and Governance Systems, and Quality of life and Quality Places. By focusing on the needs and gaps in theses six pillars that are specific and relevant to each community, communities can begin to plan accordingly for their future.

“My friend and Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson likes to say you should always plan with the end in mind, and Broward County has taken that to heart as a Six Pillars Community,” said Charley Caulkins, Partner with Fisher and Phillips LLP, and Chair of the Broward Workshop. “The Six Pillar Plan was launched in 2010 through the Florida Chamber Foundation. It offers local communities a way to plan for their growth. Broward County’s future development strategy is now tied to the Six Pillar Plan that charts growth strategy into 2030. With the Six Pillars Plan, and as an official Six Pillars Community, Broward County is on solid foundation to move into the future.”

In fact, Broward County’s collaboration and adoption of the Florida Chamber’s Six Pillars Community plan has proven to be successful, as outlined by the National Association of Counties’ recent report A Workforce that Works: County Innovations in Workforce Development:

“In March 2012, the GFLA [Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance], including Broward County business, civic and local government leaders, announced the launch of the Six Pillars Broward County strategic planning process to address topics identified as critical to the economic success of the county. The Six Pillars process is being led at the state level by the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The Foundation will design a local strategic planning process through 2030, thereby helping communities throughout Florida prosper and create high-paying jobs. Over 300 businesses, civic, community and government leaders are involved in Six Pillars Broward County, with Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca serving as a co-chair to the initiative.

The first pillar in Six Pillars Broward County is “Talent Supply & Education,” with the expressed goal that educators collaborate with employers to ensure they are fostering a workforce prepared to meet the needs of local employers.

To do this, Broward County and its partners have joined forces with Broward College, a community college in the county, to provide programs related to logistics, trade and high-tech sectors. To date, Broward College has leveraged more than $4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Labor to design curricula and expand learning opportunities for the skills needed in the high-tech industry. Broward College has also placed an emphasis on admitting students obtaining an industry-recognized certificate upon high school graduation and increasing the numbers of students choosing majors in science and technology-related fields. Additionally, the Six Pillars Broward County board of directors conducts an annual survey of employers and educators to make sure current curricula are meeting employers’ needs.”

So far, several counties, including Palm Beach (the first Six Pillars Community) and Okaloosa have adopted the six pillars strategies to coordinate and plan their futures. The key to success? The ability to work on the issues that are relevant to each community, says Bentina Terry, Vice President, Customer Service and Sales at Gulf Power and Chair of the Florida Chamber Foundation.

“It wasn’t intended to impress upon each community that this is the Six Pillars — you will do it this way, you will make sure you address every single one of these issues regardless of if they are relevant to your community or not. It’s not run out of Tallahassee. It’s run here and it’s the things that are important to you. It’s the area you want to see, the places you want to go, and it just provides a framework for how you might be able to get there,” Terry said.

For more information on the Six Pillars Community program and to learn how you can get involved, contact Tracey Lowe at TLowe@FLFoundation.org.