The availability of talent is among the most important components of a company’s decision to relocate or expand. That not only includes the current roster of talent but how the area is growing the pool of qualified workers who will make up the next generation.
With the commitment to developing talent from Florida’s K-12 school districts and postsecondary institutions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared September as Workforce Development Month in Florida. This recognition celebrates the progress made towards strengthening workforce education opportunities for Floridians and aims to make the state best in the nation for workforce education by 2030. As such, since 2019, Florida has invested more than $5 billion in workforce education initiatives, and Northeast Florida is devoted to developing the next generation workforce by creating structures and programs that are tied into its target industries and high-growth areas.
Leading the way in that endeavor is Earn Up, JAXUSA’s workforce development initiative. The “Invest in Your Future” program pairs the region’s companies with students, adult learners and veterans to provide a variety of real-world job experiences, including internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing, mentoring and more. Ascension St. Vincent’s, Collins Aerospace, Florida Blue, CSX and Jinko Solar are among the companies who are already partnering with the initiative. The work-based learning activities are invaluable for the companies to build homegrown talent with skills needed for mutual success and the individuals they may employ with a better understanding of the opportunities available in the region.
Post-secondary institutions in the Jacksonville region also continue to invest in curriculum that drives college students to be well prepared for the area’s target industries of advanced manufacturing, advanced transportation and logistics, health and biomedical, financial services and IT and innovation. Examples include:
- The University of North Florida (UNF) chemistry department recently unveiled a new addition and renovation totaling 20,000 square feet of space, labs and study areas and a partnership with Johnson & Johnson Vision to invest in a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer and support for summer research programs.
- Florida State College at Jacksonville and St. Johns River State College launched the Northeast Florida Fintech Initiative after being awarded a $3.6 million grant to create a training program to develop the highly skilled workers needed for the growing fintech sector.
- Jacksonville University (JU) has one of the country’s best aviation programs with specialties available in aviation management and flight operations, airport management, airline management and air traffic control. JU is one of 36 universities in the nation selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to educate future air traffic controllers under the Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI).
- Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corporation, a leader in logistics, marine and energy solutions, donated $2.5 million to UNF for the creation and operation of the Crowley Center for Transportation and Logistics. This center of excellence will establish a commitment to the growth and development of skilled, talented students in transportation and logistics.
The Jacksonville region is also unique in that it has several leading universities within 250-miles of the region, including University of Florida (UF), Florida State University (FSU), Florida A&M University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of Central Florida, Keiser University and Georgia Southern University. UF and FSU were recently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the nation.
Couple this with the influx of new residents to the Jacksonville region and Northeast Florida is positioned to be a significant talent hub in the Southeast now and for years to come.