Key factors that site selectors look for in bringing jobs to a region include a good location, competitive incentives, and increasingly, the right workforce. While we are proud of the growing talent base in Northeast Florida, we realize that our region would benefit from having more of our workforce possessing training certificates, two-year or four-year degrees.
That is why last year we formed a coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors to develop a strategy to raise the educational attainment level in our region’s top industry occupations. We understood it would take a high-level group of leaders from our colleges and universities, business community and non-profit sector working together to move the needle forward on educational attainment. Our current regional attainment rate is 36% and our goal is 60% by 2025.
Earn Up, an initiative of JAXUSA Partnership, was launched this past December with support from our region’s education leaders and funding from the Lumina Foundation, CareerSource Northeast Florida, FSCJ and the Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.
After analyzing the landscape, we identified three target populations to focus on: high school students transitioning to college, adult learners and veterans. We are working on programs that provide support, showcase examples of best practices, measure results and report on progress.
For high school students, we created a texting platform for reminders of upcoming financial aid and enrollment dates at their selected (local) college. Veterans will benefit from the formation of a new network of college administrators and military base personnel who are working to address common barriers military veterans face.
Working adults, who may have some college credit but no degree or certification, may need workplace support and flexibility to be successful at balancing work, family and educational demands. We have initiated conversations with employers and these workers to make it easier for more of these adults to return to school and complete their degree.
Take a look at a brief video that explains the work we are doing. We urge you to consider joining us as we come together to create a culture of life-long learning that leads to economic growth for the Northeast Florida region.