Foundational skills training launched by Hodges University

The FutureMakers Coalition’s Persistence and Progress Regional Action Team announces the development of a pilot project to address foundational skills, or soft skills, that were identified by local employers as barriers to hiring from the local workforce.  

After unsuccessful attempts to find examples of programs elsewhere that seem to be dealing with this national problem effectively, the team decided to develop its own project based on what the employment partners are communicating they need and the type of training that is missing from the education system in Southwest Florida.

Several exciting tactics are being developed by the cross-sector team, which includes several large employers.  

“The professional effectiveness certificate is a competency-based program and designed with major employers’ input, including Chico’s FAS, Lee Health, Arthrex as well as CareerSource Southwest Florida,” said Dr. Aysegul Timur, dean of the Johnson School of Business at Hodges University. “The curriculum will prepare individuals for the foundational skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. The FutureMakers Coalition made the connection possible, aligning the business community, educational needs, workforce development and the funding needed to respond to the need much faster.”

Hodges University has been working with the team to design a badge program that will allow students to get their feet wet in a higher education setting (possibly sparking interest in pursuing additional education), receive referrals from employers who want to see some additional professional development in an existing or potential employee, and to allow students already pursuing a degree or certificate to access needed training around the most needed foundational skills.  

“This is an extremely important initiative. It will help to address a key training need that employers, Workforce Now, FutureMakers and others have identified as impacting most economic sectors across our region,” said Dr. John Meyer, executive vice president of academic affairs for Hodges University. “I am thrilled that Hodges University and the Southwest Florida Community Foundation have been able to work together with employers to help bring this desperately needed certificate program to employees and potential employees across the region.” 

The goal of FutureMakers is to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the number of college degrees, certificates or other high-quality credentials from 37 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

The Coalition is made up of regional partners in the areas of education, government, business, nonprofit, citizen stakeholders and advocates committed to creating a cradle-to-career pathway to ensure success for traditional students and adult learners.

“Hodges University is Southwest Florida’s leader in workforce education,” said Dr. Donald Wortham, president of Hodges University. “We are proud to partner with Workforce Now, FutureMakers, and CareerSource to provide students with an on-ramp to improved employment prospects, and employers with the skilled workforce that will keep our region competitive.”

The FutureMakers Coalition was one of Lumina Foundation’s 75 national Community Partners in Attainment. Residents are encouraged to join and support this community-changing initiative. For more information, visit, call 239-274-5900 or email Tessa LeSage at [email protected]