Closing Florida’s Talent Gap by Improving Educational Opportunities


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Why It Matters to Florida

From local businesses to major corporations, a qualified workforce is a top concern for job creators. To secure Florida’s future, employers need talent that is prepared to enter the workforce. Florida wins when we close the gap by putting students ahead of special interests. The Florida Chamber will continue to champion the best education system for Florida.

The Florida Chamber’s focus includes:

  •  Preparing Students for Success
  • Innovation and Outcomes Are Essential
  • Quality School Choice Matters
  • Improving Attainment and Access to Higher Education
  • Preparing Florida’s Workforce to Address Florida’s Skills Gap

Florida’s Competitiveness Agenda

  • Preparing Students for Success
    Ensuring a talented workforce for tomorrow begins with empowering our youngest learners today. Preparing children to learn provides a foundation for future successes and helps them develop skills such as self-discipline, persistence and cooperation-skills that re essential to their future success in the workforce.
  • Innovation and Outcomes Are Essential
    The Florida Chamber understands the importance of STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Medicine) education in schools. We will continue to support a focus on STEMM concepts throughout Florida’s education system in order to ensure that Florida’s students become and remain globally competitive.
  • Quality School Choice Matters
    At the Florida Chamber we recognize that education is not a one-size-fits-all option. We continue to advocate for parents to have the freedom to choose the best learning environment for their children .
  • Preparing Florida’s Workforce to Address Florida’s Skills Gap
    Advocating for increased attainment and making college more affordable is a top priority for the Florida Chamber. In addition to adequately preparing Florida’s students to enter the workforce, we must also focus on attracting and retaining world class talent.
  • Improving Attainment and Access to Higher Education
    In order for Florida to remain one of the top business climates in the nation, we must increase educational opportunities in both higher education and in the 21st century vocational trades.

The Fight for Free Enterprise Continues

We believe that a quality education and workforce development system is the best way to enable Floridians to compete in a 21st century global economy. Be a part of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Business Alliance for Early Learning and help us invest in the future of Florida’s students.


Florida Chamber Joins Broad Coalition in Urging Florida House to Support HB 1213


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To: Members of the Florida House

On behalf of our broad coalition of education, business and industry groups, we are writing in strong support of HB 1213 (Porter), a bill that will expand access to computer science in Florida public schools and help prepare Florida students for the 21st century workforce.

Computing is a foundational skill for K-12 students. It develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and teaches them how to create — not just use — new technologies. These skills will benefit students in every subject, in the classroom and beyond.

In Florida and across the country, computer science is driving job growth and innovation. Computer science skills are in high demand in the job market; in fact, more than half of projected jobs in STEM fields are in computing occupations, and computer science is one of the most desirable degrees for new college graduates. According to the Conference Board, there are approximately 22,365 open computing jobs in the State of Florida, and demand for these jobs is growing at 3.6 times the state average.

HB 1213 will better prepare Florida students for these high paying, in-demand careers by phasing in a reasonable requirement that high schools offer computer science courses and providing professional development for computer science teachers.

Please join us in supporting HB 1213 to ensure Florida students have educational opportunities that prepare them for a successful future in a competitive, global workforce. Thank you for your consideration, and please consider our organizations as a resource as you deliberate this bill.

College Board
Florida Chamber of Commerce
Project Lead the Way

Florida Chamber Education Priorities Head to the Governor

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (March 11, 2016) – The Florida Legislature continues to move our state and our students in the right direction with the passage of a bill that includes several Florida Chamber legislative priorities.

HB 7029 strengthens and expands school choice options, ensures we are helping to train, and retain, the best teachers for our students, works to further streamline graduation requirements for Florida’s high-schoolers, codifies performance funding for Florida’s 12 public universities and 28 state colleges, and champions efforts that will renew a focus on the importance of early learning.

We commend the Florida Legislature, who made it possible for the many successes in education that Florida saw this Legislative Session. Students with unique learning abilities will be able to take advantage of greater learning opportunities with the John M. McKay Scholarship Program and the Gardiner Scholarship Program, current college and career readiness programs will be strengthened, and highly effective, professional educators wanting to teach STEM subject courses will have an easier pathway for certification. Many Florida students will now be able to take advantage of an education system which allows them to advance at their own pace based on their mastery of concepts and skills with the new Competency-Based Education Pilot Program.

The Florida Chamber knows the existing one-size-fits-all system of education is struggling to consistently meet the individual needs of each student and equip them for success in the 21st century, and thanks to the hard work of the Florida Legislature, Florida’s students are on the path to continued competitiveness and excellence.

Manufacturing Contributes More than $40 Billion to Florida’s Economy

Manufacturing is a key driver in Florida’s economic recovery, creating exports for domestic and international trade and generating high-wage, high-skill jobs that diversify and strengthen the state economy. For every 10 jobs created in manufacturing, 12 more are created in transportation, warehousing and retail and 8 jobs in business services, resulting in a $41.5 billion economic impact to the state GDP.

The demand for manufacturing jobs will continue to rise, with a recent Deloitte study indicating that 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed by 2025. However, our students must develop the skills to fill those jobs or they will likely go unfilled. As Florida Chamber Foundation research shows, STEM education and technical training is vital to bridging this skills gap and enabling Florida’s future workforce to compete in a global economy.

Get Involved

October is Manufacturing Month and the perfect time to support Florida’s 18,200 manufacturers. Click here for a short message on manufacturing from Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber, and learn how you can join us in supporting our partners at the Manufacturers Association of Florida.

Half of Today’s Occupations Will be Obsolete in 2030

Technology and globalization will continue to be a factor in every job and in every sector, causing many of today’s positions to be radically transformed or disappear altogether by 2030. With transition comes the opportunity to innovate and create the next generation of jobs right here in Florida.

It is important to prepare tomorrow’s graduates and workforce for the workplace demands of the future.  A look at the types of jobs currently open across Florida point to one trend that’s likely to continue – the need for more Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training. STEM jobs are expected to grow 3 times faster than non-STEM jobs well into the future.

Get Involved

To be part of the conversation on innovation and preparing tomorrow’s workforce, join us at the Future of Florida Forum on September 28-29, in Orlando.


Did You Know Florida is Considered a Leader in Innovation?

Florida was recently named an Innovation Leader by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), producer of the world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Florida earned high marks in the areas of right to work, tax friendliness, entrepreneurial activity and innovation momentum and lower marks in the areas of technology workforce, investment attraction and STEM degree graduates.

The same opportunities for improvement will be discussed in a joint report issued by the Florida Chamber Foundation and Florida Research Consortium. “Blueprint for Florida’s Innovation Economy” will focus on diversifying industries and developing a stronger innovation economy through growing high-tech, high-wage jobs; increasing investment capital for new and emerging businesses; and training and retaining Florida university graduates in STEM fields.

“In the future, Floridians have tremendous potential to improve the economy of our great state by nurturing historic drivers like tourism, agriculture and construction and by enhancing our focus on the drivers of technology, knowledge and innovation,” said Randy Berridge, President of the Florida High Tech Corridor. “To achieve success in both segments, Florida leaders need to concentrate on attracting, retaining and growing talent.”

STEM Jobs Account for 1 in 4 Job Openings in Florida

In today’s technology-driven world, the global economy is becoming increasingly reliant on the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Of the 283,949 current job postings in Florida, nearly 70,000 are in STEM fields. Throughout the past 10 years, STEM jobs have grown three times faster than non-STEM jobs. Projections indicate that, over the next decade, the economy will need nearly one million more STEM professionals than the United States will produce at the current rate.

“STEM skills are essential for Florida’s workforce to remain competitive in the global marketplace,” said Dr. Pamella Dana, Senior Strategic Advisor for the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) and former head of Tourism, Trade, & Economic Development for the State of Florida. “If educational trends move away from preparing our youth with these vital skills, fewer qualified candidates will be available to support growth in high-tech areas. It is critical to Florida’s long-term economic outlook that we engage our students in STEM, and dedicate the resources needed to optimally develop the talent of Florida’s future.”

Florida’s ability to remain globally competitive, and provide greater opportunities for families, is dependent on diversifying the economy and creating high-wage jobs. To achieve this goal, there must be a focus on closing the talent gap, not only by preparing students now for the STEM-related jobs of the 21st century, but also retraining and transitioning the current workforce into STEM occupations through non-degree training and certification programs.

Share Your Story:

What is your community doing to provide workforce training for STEM jobs? Email the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Chief Economist, Dr. Jerry D. Parrish, at

Get Involved:

The importance of STEM in workforce development is one of the many topics that will be discussed at the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Education Solutions Summit on June 9 in Tampa, and at the Future of Florida Forum on September 28-30 in Orlando.

About the Florida Scorecard:

The Florida Scorecard, located at, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each month, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Stat that takes an in-depth look at one aspect of Florida’s economy. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Stat or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Dr. Jerry Parrish with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1283.


A Global Economy Means Opportunities for Florida’s Future

Florida’s economy is moving in the right direction again. Recent polls from the Florida Chamber’s Political Institute confirm that likely voters remain confident in our economy’s recovery. But while our state is moving in the right direction, we are at a pivotal turning point. Florida is now moving towards becoming the hub for global trade.

For Keiser University, a global economy equals opportunities for Florida’s future talent and workforce. By providing degree programs in Florida, and in China and Nicaragua, we are providing educational opportunities and options to students who will move our state, and the world, forward. For over 40 years, included in the University’s mission is a focus on preparing students to effectively compete, lead and serve in Florida and the global marketplace.  We must continue to work towards attracting and retaining the best talent we can to Florida. And we must do this in high wage fields, which will help diversify Florida’s economy. Our state has a strong foundation in tourism and agriculture, but we can now build on foundation by providing opportunities for innovation, STEM, research and development and more.

At Keiser, we believe closing the talent gap is key to sustained economic development. And what better way to grow, than to grow globally?

To get involved with the Florida Chamber’s global efforts, contact Alice Ancona at

Written by Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor, Keiser University

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.

Did You Know STEM Skills and Florida’s Innovation Economy

Did you know? Since 2010, Florida’s labor demand in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields has increased by more than 63 percent. Currently, there are more than 55,000 unfilled STEM jobs in Florida. That demand is felt throughout the state, including within the growing $5 billion modeling, simulation and training industry.

Securing Florida’s future prosperity is tied to our ability to fill high-wage jobs. This means Florida must do a better job of meeting the demands of a 21st century economy, where STEM-related jobs are likely to be among the most prominent.

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.

The Bottom Line – Florida Needs to be Ready.

So, where do we stand? While Florida’s fourth grade reading scores are second in the world only to Hong Kong, our state still faces an emerging talent gap – a crisis in human capital that represents a vast, growing and unmet need for a highly skilled and educated workforce. Consider the facts:

Why should Floridians care? Our state’s ability to remain competitive, and thus provide greater opportunities for families, relies on our ability to diversify the economy. To diversify our economy, we must close the talent gap and prepare students now for the STEM-related jobs of the 21st century.

Florida is already feeling the repercussions of a talent supply gap – including in our state’s $5 billion modeling, simulation and training industry (MS&T). Central Florida, the epicenter of the United States MS&T industry, employs more than 60,000 Floridians. This industry provides much needed technology to support our military and defense industry, and has grown steadily even in a sluggish economy. The industry is heavily reliant upon employees with STEM-related skills.

“The STEM skills gap is both a real challenge and a real opportunity for Florida,” said Waymon Armstrong, CEO of Engineering and Computer Simulations in Orlando.“ Just for the MS&T industry in Central Florida, STEM skills are a main element of $5 billion in economic activity. Our industry is affected by federal sequestration, defense department cuts, and budget spending cycles. The STEM skills gap is an additional challenge and one Florida should address proactively. A recent US Census Bureau study revealed that 74 percent of STEM graduates are not employed in STEM occupations. This presents a real opportunity for Florida to stake its claim as a global leader in STEM talent pipelines. We have high-wage jobs right here, and need the talent pipeline to fill them. Florida has made progress, but there is still a long way to go in this endeavor. How we close the gap on science and math scores will make Florida’s modeling, simulation and training industry more likely to continue its status as a Florida economic engine. Exposing students to science and math in new and exciting ways, rigorous standards in our educational systems, and ensuring the highest quality teachers are delivering content in the STEM subjects will be vital to continuing our progress.”

Here are Three Ways You Can Help

  1. Register to attend the Florida Chamber Foundation’s 2014 Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit in Orlando on August 13. Thomas L. Baptiste, Lt Gen, USAF (Ret), President & CEO, National Center for Simulation and other keynote speakers will outline how industry, academia and smart government have helped this cluster develop and grow and will discuss opportunities for future growth.
  2. Join us at the 2014 Future of Florida Forum, September 29 – October 1. Join state business leaders, industry experts and elected officials as they discuss and explore how to secure Florida’s future, together. This year’s program features top level executives from several state agencies and identifying connection points and partnerships that will make Florida the state with vibrant communities, high-wage jobs and endless opportunities for global competitiveness. Register today and be a part of the conversations that will help Florida stand out as the best state to live, learn, work and raise a family.
  3. Become a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee and help provide strategic direction for Florida’s future, to 2030 and beyond. For more information, contact Sal Nuzzo at 850-521-1283 or



Tell Us Your Story

How does your business benefit from STEM-related skills? How can we help build Florida’s high-skilled future? Share your Florida story with us.




About the Florida Scorecard Did You Know:

The Florida Scorecard, located at, presents metrics across Florida’s economy. Each week, the Florida Chamber Foundation produces a Scorecard Did You Know that takes an in-depth look at one specific statistic. If you would like additional information on the Weekly Scorecard Did You Know or on the Florida Scorecard, please contact Sal Nuzzo with the Florida Chamber Foundation at 850.521.1283 or You can also follow Sal on Twitter at @SalNuzzo and the Florida Chamber Foundation at @FLChamberFDN.