Florida’s economic competitiveness is based largely on creating and continuing to promote the most skilled workforce in the nation. AIF has been at the forefront of education reform efforts for many years. A world-class workforce is a major component of job creation, and creating more jobs in the state has been, and will continue to be, a major focus for AIF and the business community. Improving our workforce through education reforms will be a key ingredient to job creation and to ensure businesses continue to establish themselves in Florida.
Early learning is facilitated by a vibrant industry filled with dedicated individuals who recognize its significance in the continuum of education. There is a direct correlation between the quality of early learning programs, third grade reading proficiency, and higher graduation rates—all of which lead to a well-educated workforce. If Florida can enroll more children into quality educational programs at a younger age, our state will see a measurable benefit. AIF SUPPORTS a uniform system of regulation for health and safety standards for all early learning providers accepting taxpayer dollars. A uniform system of regulation should also apply to the allocation of additional resources necessary to support providers that are committed to improving education quality.
To fulfill the promises of virtual and online learning, AIF SUPPORTS investing and expanding the use of technology and other methods of school instruction that provide for the unique learning needs of the child. Online learning is growing at over 30% per year and is projected to account for 50% of all high school classes by 2020. Our schools must innovate, or they will suffocate. Remaining the same means falling behind.
Creating the talent pipeline should be a major focus of the Florida Legislature. Promoting the talent pipeline will help ensure the competitiveness of Florida.
AIF SUPPORTS adopting the PreK-to-Job model of the future to improve the organic talent pipeline and create a strategy that addresses these gaps, including training the talent required for the future in our PreK-to-Job system today. The legislature should focus state resources toward the development of a skilled workforce for Florida businesses, employers and entrepreneurs. Florida’s nonprofit institutions within the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF) produce 22-25% of all baccalaureate degrees annually in Florida, most of which help meet critical employment needs of Florida.
AIF SUPPORTS encouraging more state investment into this system by increasing the amount funded necessary to adjust for program growth and keeping the per student amount at $3,500, as it demonstrates one of the strongest returns on investment for the state’s higher education system.
Emerging industries are important to Florida’s economy. To continue the building, development and relocation of businesses employing such high-technology workers, we must produce the workforce that fills the needs at every level, from national third-party certifications to undergraduate and graduate degrees.
AIF SUPPORTS accountability in higher education and promoting student outcomes. The legislature should: