AIF’s Education, Economic & Workforce Development Council hosts a meeting of business leaders with Education Commissioner Eric Smith.
Florida Education, Economic
& Workforce Development Council
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Educating Employees for Today’s High-Skilled Workplace Council Lobbyist: Stacey Webb
Florida’s economy and overall quality of life will depend heavily on developing and retaining skilled workers to ensure economic success and future growth. There are critical areas of need facing the state relative to nursing, teaching, construction trades, high tech, and other knowledge-based professions where specialized skills and experience are indispensable.
Employers need employees that can speak intelligently, write cogently, and think creatively. Students must also be literate in multiculturalism in order to compete in a global economy. We must produce a workforce that can compete with the likes of China, India, and South Korea, not just with other states.
Ultimately, no issue impacts the ability of Florida’s economy to grow more than education at all levels, from pre-kindergarten through college. Without an educated workforce, Florida will be unable to compete with other states and countries to attract qualified individuals to fill these jobs and recruit new industries.
The private sector must work hand-in-hand with education leaders to develop a skilled workforce to support Florida business and to bridge the gap between academic research and marketable technologies, thereby increasing our state’s competitiveness in attracting industry and diversifying Florida-based businesses.
Citing a need to improve the communication between business leaders and thought leaders at all levels of education in Florida, AIF created the Florida Council on Education Economic and Workforce Development (FCEEWD) to advise the AIF Board on matters of critical importance that will continue to improve Florida’s K-20 education system.
The FCEEWD adopted the following guiding statements as a way to measure topics to address as well as specific legislative proposals:
Student success is defined as: “students finish what they start.”
It is imperative to help students get to class in the best condition to learn.
Access changes student self perception. Degrees and certificates change lives.
Support increased standards for high school graduation, with special interest in writing, reading math and science
Support creative courses, such as art and music, which help nurture the entrepreneurial spirit and can help keep students in school
Support improvements to Florida’s nationally recognized system of school accountability, with particular focus on improving the value of a high school diploma
Support expanded access to rigorous courses such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Dual Enrollment to ensure all students have access to courses that prepare them for higher education and, in many cases, earn them college credit while they earn their high school diploma.
Support strengthening the linkages between industry and career education
Support efforts to improve students continuing from K-12 into higher education by better aligning standards, courses, and tests so students are prepared for success in continued higher education
Although the resultant construction is an economic stimulus, with costs expected to reach $22 Billion by 2011, support review of class size reduction implementation to find the most effective way to meet the intent of the amendment, address the escalating costs of compliance, and focus remaining capital outlay funds where they are most needed
With respect to the class size amendment, support allowing flexibility for unplanned student growth after beginning of the school year
Support improvements to the linkage of Career Education to industry standards and certifications so students are prepared for both higher education AND immediate employment in a high-wage, high-skill job
Support innovative programs that will increase the supply of high-skilled workers for Florida’s economy, such as the “Ready to Work” program for career choice training and the Banner Centers for Workforce Development which designs curriculum around industry standards
Support strengthening accountability in higher education across all sectors receiving state funds
Support an accountability system that takes into consideration differentiated missions of a wide variety of colleges and universities, both public and private
Support efforts to strengthen university research and commercialization to enhance the ability to bring the products of university research to market and keep companies that grow out of that research in the state
Support the “Center for Excellence” programs and their continued funding