Through the FutureMakers Coalition’s efforts to ensure more residents of all backgrounds get an education beyond high school, Southwest Florida (SWFL) has been designated as a Talent Hub by the Lumina and Kresge Foundations — joining 25 other communities around the country. This significant achievement is a badge of honor for our community, and Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is a proud partner of the FutureMakers Coalition and the Talent Hub!
What does the Talent Hub recognition really mean? Simply put, it signifies that our region has demonstrated the ability to partner together to achieve a common goal — transforming SWFL’s workforce by increasing the proportion of working age adults with college degrees, workforce certificates, industry certifications, and other high-quality credentials to 55% by 2025. Why 55%? The research by the Florida College Access Network indicates that 2 of 3 new jobs created in Florida by 2025 will require education or training beyond high school. Thus, our goal is aimed at further developing our future regional workforce that will give greater rise to economic growth in SWFL. Achieving this goal also requires investing in human capital which enhances economic development and contributes to economic diversification which translates into high skill – high paying jobs which improves economic prosperity for all!
There is no question that this is a huge goal and we have a lot of work to do get there… but we know we can achieve it, collectively, through strategic prioritization. So, what is the plan?
Did you know that there are a little over 200,000 working age adults (25 years and over) with some college and no degree in SWFL (Charlotte, Collier and Lee — based on the 2019 American Community Survey)? Let us clarify that some college — no degree means that individuals started college, earned credits, but they never graduated. This accounts for 20% of the total population who are 25 years and older. This is where our prioritization begins…
FGCU now has two parallel initiatives:
1. We leveraged the Talent Hub designation to launch our “Return to the Nest” strategic initiative which aims to help former FGCU students, who stopped-out for more than three semesters and did not complete a degree, to come back and resume their studies again. The FGCU navigator team assists students to return, get going on their program of study, and of course work towards joining our Eagle Alumni! This initiative is designed to meet the needs of returning adults who often face challenges more traditional-age students might not. FGCU has dedicated funds to provide financial support for students and help remove financial barriers so they can transition back and graduate!
2. FGCU Complete is for any students who earned some college credit elsewhere, but never graduated and now want to complete their bachelor’s degrees. It is a flexible and ideal program for individuals who work full-time or who are unable to attend traditional university classes and events due to other obligations. Students can fulfill their degree requirements by taking a combination of on-campus, in-community, and online classes in an accelerated 8-week format depending on the program and, of course, join our Eagle Alumni through completion!
There are many reasons why individuals do not finish their college program. Most of them include, but are not limited to: financial obligations, academics, personal, or other extenuating circumstances. FGCU acknowledges and understands these reasons and has created an easy and streamlined way to re-enroll. Both initiatives focus on personalized coaching and navigation to help returning students explore their best pathway to graduation. Over the years, FGCU has expanded programs and enrollment options with 63 undergraduate majors to choose from offered in face to face, online, and hybrid courses delivery options within the traditional 16-week timeframe as well as an accelerated degree completion 8-week option (FGCU Complete). An easy, one-stop-website allows prospective students to complete a contact form to connect with a personal navigator who will review their potential pathways to graduation. The FGCU navigator works with variety of team members across campus to assist students to get to know us better so that we can get them back on track to earning that valuable college degree.
As a regional comprehensive university, FGCU is committed to providing and offering educational opportunities of strategic importance to Southwest Florida’s workforce development and economy and beyond… Outstanding faculty and staff, supported by a strong community of advisors, best prepare our students for gainful employment and successful lives. We believe that education benefits, not only individuals and their families, but also the vitality of our region as a whole. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that the economic benefits of working in a more educated community “spill over” from individual workers to the productivity of the entire community.
Each of us knows, works alongside, and probably employs someone who could benefit greatly from this opportunity. Now is our call to action to Southwest Florida to help spread the word about how FGCU can help members of our community earn that coveted college degree by visiting: https://www.fgcu.edu/complete/return.aspx . Let FGCU launch your pathway for even greater success!