Are Skilled Workers Available?

More and more, workforce availability—over and above incentives or other factors—is driving the decision-making process for companies looking at Northeast Florida for relocation or expansion. Employers want to know if we have the talent they need to be successful and grow so they look at both our current workforce and our pipeline of emerging talent. Northeast Florida’s robust system of career academies in our school districts provides evidence of this pipeline.

For more than a decade, the JAXUSA Partnership has advocated for academically rigorous, career-themed education tied to our targeted industries. Instead of the vocational technology you may remember from your high school days, these career academies are sophisticated—they attract high-performing students to learn academics with a career theme. It’s the relevancy many high school students today need to understand the context of their learning

Students interested in becoming doctors, for instance, might have lessons in their English class that focus on medical reading and math lessons related to volume and ratios in a medicinal setting. Students who engage in these programs emerge both college and career ready—often with summer internship experience, more project-based learning time and with higher attendance rates. Research shows that traditionally marginalized populations have higher graduation and earnings rates.

Today in Northeast Florida, there are 93 career academies tied to our region’s targeted industries. Fifteen of them are considered model academies as rated by the National Career Academy Coalition and as a region we are considered national leaders. We were among the first to convene with the region’s K-12 career education directors, area college leaders, and the local workforce board several times a year to discuss best practices, shifts in industry workforce demand, and to connect with business leaders who can advise on curriculum, provide classroom speakers and summer internship opportunities.

It is one of the reasons we’ve been able to prove that we have the workforce pipeline in place to help our newly relocating or expanding companies, and it’s a winning strategy we will continue to support.

To view the full interactive listing of career academies in the area, click here.

By Tina Wirth, Vice President of Workforce Development, JAXUSA