Florida’s bright future brings a new wave of employees ready to join the workforce, but how can we as business leaders ensure they have the necessary skills to match Florida’s economic needs? By 2030, Florida will be home to an additional 3.5 million more residents and will need to create 1.62 million net new jobs to sustain them and Florida’s growing economy. Diverse and uncharted growth requires innovative and strategic solutions toward talent acquisition and workforce development challenges.
“Talent is quickly replacing the tax incentive as the economic development tool of choice,” said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Developing the skilled workforce Florida’s growing economy needs will launch Florida businesses to the next level and will keep Florida competitive.
Leveraging talent to elevate competitiveness requires business leaders to first broaden the funnels of talent procurement.
The longstanding narrative that a four-year college or university degree is necessary to have a lucrative and successful career is changing, as many jobs increasing in demand are tied to skilled trades and career and technical education routes. With this in mind, Florida’s business leaders need to adapt their talent sourcing, because we can no longer conduct business as usual in our hiring efforts within our diversifying economy.
Miller Electric is broadening talent acquisition efforts by utilizing new sources and modifying traditional methods. By investing in talent through organizations such as the Girl Scouts and area high schools, we as Florida’s business leaders challenge our future generation to diversify career endeavors and explore undiscovered, in-demand jobs. Providing internship opportunities for high school students can greatly help increase complete career awareness and reveal the variety of career paths open to them — both traditional and non-traditional.
Educating students will not be enough on its own to win the talent war if parents are not part of the discussion. We must stop fueling the narrative and bring to light the opportunities within these career pathways such as lower student debt, getting paid to learn via apprenticeships, salary potential and job security these trade occupations have to offer.
Florida Chamber Foundation research shows that 33% of parents would need additional information on CTE career paths to feel reassured it is not a “lesser path” than four years in college or at a university for their student. Additionally, while 35% of parents are interested in CTEs, only 8% of Florida students are — yet 55% of students rely on career advice from family and friends.
We gladly welcome parents to participate in educational courses and activities to showcase the opportunities these professions hold for their children. Creating programs for students and parents to learn more about trade professions is a promising practice that companies of all sizes and industries can replicate. At Miller Electric, this is all part of Powering Our Pipeline: Building the People Who Build Our Business. Miller Electric sources exceptional talent by plugging into multiple, unique pipelines such as networks of friends and family, career transition programs, campus recruiting, high school apprenticeships and the military in order to develop and mobilize our trade and office professionals alike, creating our best workforce.
Finding innovative and unique ways to source talent and facilitate career education in parents and students not only makes essential strides for Florida’s future, but also demonstrates an investment in your business and community. Providing opportunities and education to our next generation of workers opens doors as Florida’s employees will have skills that are aligned with economic demands so both individuals and businesses thrive.
To learn more about getting involved with building America’s best workforce, visit flchamber.com/futureofworkflorida.
Patty Keenan is chief talent officer and Mike Brannen is senior vice president of industrial and workforce development at Miller Electric Company. Both are board members of the Florida Chamber Foundation’s Future of Work Florida Initiative.
This guest column is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Times-Union. We welcome a diversity of opinions.