SAIL to 60 initiative sets the goal for at least 60 percent of working-age Florida adults to hold a high-value postsecondary degree, certificate or training experience by the year 2030.
There are many unsung heroes in Southwest Florida who work hard in the trenches to move the needle on the most critical issues facing the community. These individuals volunteer their time and give selflessly to ensure that work is being done to create a sustainable future for the next generation and beyond. FutureMaker Andy Getch is the epitome of such a hero. An engineer by trade, artist and musician by night Getch has been hailed as one of the most dedicated of all citizen volunteers within the Coalition. During the most recent scholarship cycle for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Andy held the record for most amount of scholarships reviewed by the entire panel of volunteers. A member of the FutureMakers Data Team, he works tirelessly to shine a light on the areas of the work that require the most attention by contributing to the Annual Outcomes Report and Business Survey. This is invaluable to the coalition’s efforts to target equity in attainment by defining priority populations in the five-county region. Getch grew up in the Lee County School System during a time when the area was still segregated, which has translated to a deep concern for closing the equity gaps that plague the community. Andy also volunteers his time to serve on the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s Sustainability Committee where he gathers transportation data to support the sustainable community design aspect the group’s work. Andy and his wife Debby are members of the Americana Community Music Association. They have incorporated their love of music to host a FutureMakers Coalition benefit concert where artists like Friction Farm, a modern folk duo who are outcome aligned with the Coalition, joined forces to increase literacy rates. Andy Getch continues to be a great example of FutureMakers working to dedicate their time to create impact.
In this issue: The Lost Skills of Teens Today, Educator Corner: The Books You Need, Parenting: Don’t let your Teen Sleep the Summer Away, Parenting: 5 Ways to Get Tour Teen Moving, Infographic: Meaning Behind LGBTQ Pride, Student Voice: If You Need a Reason to Study Abroad, Parenting: Keep Your Kids Safe This Summer, Student Voice: Outbursts: Dealing with Emotional Confrontations
Don’t wait until fall to get started on your college applications!!! Join Dr. Sterk for an informal gathering to talk about the college application process for Florida students and have some great coffee at Perk & Brew. Students will get expert tips on what colleges are looking for in applications, how to structure your college documents, and know what questions to ask when visiting colleges. This is a must attend for any family thinking about the college process!
Register at: unmaze.me/events
Back when we went to Pre-Kindergarten, we remember playing games, being taught to use scissors properly, staying in the lines while coloring pictures and even taking naps. Today, PreK students are rarely given the opportunity to engage in those basic activities due to the rigorous expectations that have been placed on Florida public school students. The goals for Florida public school students to meet and exceed are at an all-time high and without a solid educational foundation, our students will always be struggling to catch up.
By Mike Swindle, Guest columnist
Hendry County Schools Workforce Development and Career and Technical Education Programs are booming. That has not always been the case. As early as three years ago, the district was considering closing the Workforce Development Program due to declining enrollment. The Hendry County School District ultimately decided to hire me, a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher to lead the reinvention of the Workforce Programs.
Bringing key stakeholders to the table to ensure the vision and needs of local workforce and training was a crucial step in the right direction. Local business leaders were eager to provide specific details that outlined the path workforce training needed to follow. The collaboration leads to buy-in and vested interest from the community in the success of our training programs. The conversation revealed we needed to expand our scope to provide a wider variety of training that produced certificates that were valuable to the workforce.
As a result, we added industrial mechanics, certified nursing assistants, construction technologies, security guard and forklift training to the established line-up of welding, GED and ESOL programs. The programs were very well received and we have grown our student count and reportable hours exponentially. Growing the programs also means increased revenue from the Department of Education. The increased revenue allows the sustainability of our programs as well as continued growth.
Without the support and buy-in from the stakeholders, the recovery would not have been possible. There were several businesses that donated funds and equipment to ensure success. FutureMakers Coalition partners, including the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, was a key factor. They brought much-needed funding that enabled the physical movement in the positive direction. For three consecutive years the funding has been used in strategic areas to ensure program and student success.
The financial support was key, but just as important was the regional collaboration the coalition facilitated. Being a part of a regional movement has allowed the use of data to drive decisions and pinpoint barriers that stood in the way of our residents that needed training, but was unavailable for various reasons. The collaboration also paved the way for greater opportunities for our students. We now have dual enrollment agreements in place with Ft. Myers Technical College and we are crafting another with Itech in Immokalee. These dual enrollment agreements will provide a vast array of programs that are simply not possible for a small district.
Bringing new opportunities to the students and residents of Hendry County is transforming our workforce in real time. Providing awareness of the multitude of pathways available has become a mission within itself. Once again, the FutureMakers Coalition stepped up to the plate. They have made it possible for Hendry County Schools to have a dedicated CTE counselor that provides multiple layers of contact between students and the opportunities that awaits.
Our goal is to diminish a large number of individuals between 18 and 24 years of age with no post-secondary training. We will create a clear and tangible pathway with quality local training options that lead to a “career within a year”. This very focused mission is closely aligned with the FutureMakers Coalition goal of increasing the region’s percentage of college graduates and residents with advanced certifications and credentials by 2025.
With increased partnerships, buy-in, regional collaboration and collective leadership, the mission of the FutureMakers Coalition will be successful. Hendry County’s workforce training transformation speaks for itself. We are proud to be FutureMakers!
Mike Swindle is a Commissioner at Hendry County Board of County Commissioners, Hendry County Schools Director of Workforce & Adult Education, and a FutureMaker’s Guiding Team member
This article orginally appeared:
Assessing and understanding the workforce landscape in Southwest Florida helps the FutureMakers Coalition align education and training opportunities with the region’s employment needs. In doing so, we create opportunities for economic development so businesses can start-up, grow, and relocate to areas where talent is abundant. Accordingly, the coalition relies on the talent of a robust Data Team, including business partners and agencies, as well as the WorkforceNow* team from Florida Southwestern State College, Hodges University, and Florida Gulf Coast University.
The most recent WorkforceNow report indicated 6,578 current employment gap positions for Southwest Florida, signifying a 30 percent increase (or 1,505 positions) compared to the report published from 2017 to 2018. The top five employment gaps include retail supervisors and salespersons, maintenance and repair workers, supervisors for food preparation and serving, landscaping and groundskeepers, construction trades supervisors, and administrative supervisors, where the median wage varies from $11.15 per hour to $20.10 per hour for these top employment gaps. So how to do we grow more high-paying Assessing and understanding the workforce landscape in Southwest Florida helps the FutureMakers Coalition align education and training opportunities with the region’s employment needs. In doing so, we create opportunities for economic development so businesses can start-up, grow, and relocate to areas where talent is abundant. Accordingly, the coalition relies on the talent of a robust Data Team, including business partners and agencies, as well as the WorkforceNow* team from Florida Southwestern State College, Hodges University, and Florida Gulf Coast University. The most recent WorkforceNow report indicated 6,578 current employ jobs in the region?
We know only 25 percent of all job openings were for occupations defined as STEM occupations, while 75 percent were for non-STEM occupations in the Summer of 2018. STEM occupations with a minimum education of bachelor’s degree had the largest supply gap in Southwest Florida, with 49 percent of the total gap for the region and with a $35.46 median wage. Healthcare practitioners and technical occupation group had the most job openings and represented 43 percent of all STEM openings in Southwest Florida. This presents an opportunity for us to work together with businesses to create career pathways and fill jobs.
Information like this helps the FutureMakers Coalition move toward our shared goal of transforming Southwest Florida’s workforce. As coalition partners, we rely on data for continuous improvement and to increase credential attainment that aligns with regional workforce needs. We use data to apply for grants and identify what works. Simply put, all initiatives aim to develop a workforce with the credentials and skills businesses need.
Here are just a couple of examples:
After regional businesses said that foundational skills training is a needed, the coalition responded. The Professional Effectiveness Certificate program was developed by Hodges University with the financial support of FutureMakers partners. Coalition partners, Chico’s, Arthrex, CareerSource, Lee Health, and the Immokalee Foundation, worked to pilot the program.
Similarly, there has been a persistent employment gap for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) for many health care providers, including Lee Health. A system alignment project was designed by the FutureMakers Coalition partners and implemented through recruitment events, gap funding, organizational coordination and data sharing, and direct interview opportunities for employers. Results have been impressive with 80% of Lee Health’s original 90 vacancies filled and 90% of CNA students successfully placed in jobs.
These programs and projects have been helpful to identify opportunities to align education-workforce systems that can be scaled and sustained with on-going funding and support from the region.
The key to success for workforce development is for businesses to get involved in the coalition. When businesses identify workforce needs, the coalition works together to find solutions. Workforce development is driven by businesses’ involvement and participation in a dynamic and changing labor market. Employers and businesses have a significant role and responsibility to invest in the regional workforce development in order to close the employment gaps and assist the future of talent development and human capital. We look forward to seeing you, business leaders, become FutureMakers partners!
We are proud FutureMakers.
Aysegul Timur, Ph.D., is Assistant Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Strategy and Program Innovation at Florida Gulf Coast University and a FutureMaker. Brent Kettler is Director of Economic Research and Strategy for En-Site, Inc. and a FutureMaker
A highly-skilled workforce is the best economic development incentive a community can tap to create mobility and improve quality of life for all. Businesses cannot confidently start-up, grow, or relocate to an area without a strong talent supply coupled with a great system of education, from early childhood on.
With 49% of working-age Floridians currently holding a postsecondary degree or credential, there is still work to be done in order to ensure the state has the talent needed to meet the needs of its rapidly growing economy.