Push is On to Make Jacksonville's Workforce Better Educated


The Jacksonville business community and educators will spend about half a million dollars over the next 2 1/2 years to boost the number of certificate and college degree holders in the area. Only about 36 percent of Northeast Florida's working age population have a two- or four-year degree, ranking the area 72nd among large cities.

The goal: Having 60 percent of adults with training certificates or college degrees by 2025

"This isn't just an education issue. It's an economic development issue." said Daniel Davis, president and CEO of JAX Chamber. "We know when companies are looking to invest and expand, they need to know there's a trained, educated workforce there to step into jobs."

The initiative will be funded with a $175,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation, an amount that will be tripled by contributions from Vistakon, the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida and CareerSource Northeast Florida.

That money will go toward data analysis — helping to determine what programs are working best now — and an awareness campaign aimed at potential students.

The largest sector of job growth in the area in coming years will be in middle skilled area — certificate or associate degree holders — but Jacksonville lacks those workers, said Tina Wirth, senior director of workforce development at Jax USA Partnership.

"Some students don't feel like they're college material, they inadvertently self select out," she said. "We need to make them aware they don't have to have a 4.0 to continue their education."

 

by Timothy Gibbons

Jacksonville Business Journal