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If You Can’t Find Them, Grow Your Own.

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If You Can’t Find Them, Grow Your Own.
Future Workforce Preparation

Today’s workplace is growing and changing in ways few imagined even two decades ago. Generational expectations, technology and most recently a pandemic have left employers with workforce-related demands that only the largest companies can potentially meet. For others, it’s a need that only a community can come together to satisfy. Even nationally recognized researchers acknowledge that future workforce preparation will require a new and broader approach to learning.

Barry Chudakov, founder and principal at Sertain Research and StreamFuzion Corp., said: “The key to education in the next 10 years will be the understanding that we now live in a world without walls – and so the walls of the school (physical and conceptual) need to shatter and never go up again. In the (hopefully near) future, we will not segregate schooling from work and real-world thinking and development.”

He continued: “They will seamlessly weave into a braid of learning, realization, exposure, hands-on experience and integration into students’ own lives. And, again, the experience of being a student now confined to grade school, secondary school and university, will expand to include workers, those looking for work, and those who want or need to retrain – as well as what we now think of as conventional education.”

Thankfully, due to the visionary leadership of many in our community, the future reality for learning and workforce preparation Chudakov envisions is already in motion. Local partnerships among schools, colleges, businesses and our regional workforce development organization, CareerSource Flagler Volusia have already provided a sound foundation for future learning and skill development.

CareerSource And Partners

CareerSource Flagler Volusia (CSFV) organizes, funds and coordinates a variety of programs to help prepare and connect individuals and local employers. CSFV staff engages and partners with business and both public and private organizations to not only gauge employer demand but also to help structure and fund effective workforce development programs. That includes incumbent workers and unemployed or underemployed adults and students who are, or will soon be entering, the working world.

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One of the unique programs CSFV has funded or helped foster includes the Youth Employment Talent Initiative (YETI), which taps into a previously overlooked cluster of youth and prepares them for the world of work. CareerSource sponsors several companies over the summer and holidays to provide on-site work experience for youth interested in a particular field. The program also provides employability (soft skill) classroom training.

“We are always eager to speak with company executives willing to help teach classes or provide job-shadowing opportunities,” said President and CEO Robin King. She explained the need for business involvement in teaching the foundational skills they will need in their future workforces.

CareerSource also supports aspiring adult workers with on-the-job training. It pays up to half the wage for a set amount of time depending on the skill set of the new job.

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CareerSource’s GED program in partnership with the Daytona Beach Housing Authority’s Learn-to-Earn-and-Development Center (LEAD) and Eckerd Connects provide academic support to help disengaged students earn a General Educational Diploma (GED) and obtain industry-recognized certifications. Eckerd Connects is a leader in workforce development, child welfare, juvenile justice and more. This collaboration prepares the individual for a successful career.

CSFV also works with local school districts to prepare students for a wide variety of careers. They broker information from businesses to Volusia County Schools through the CareerSourceFV’s BOD Career Pathways Committee. This helps, in some instances, to open opportunities for work-based learning and provides timely input helping educators align curriculum with current employer needs. Beneficiaries of the business-CSFV-schools link have been the 21 Career Academies and over 60 Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs offered by Volusia County Schools at its 10 high
school campuses.

For more information about CareerSource FV programs, visit https://www.careersourcefv.com/job-seekers/

Volusia County Schools – Career Education Programs

Exposing students to real-world career demands and environments is one way secondary educators are helping align workplace demands with emerging workforce skills.  Volusia County Schools continues to expand its Career and Technical Education (CTE) curricula, including regular updates to its award winning academy program.

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At present, Volusia County Schools offers 21 academies in nine high schools.

The concept, which was launched locally in 1994, helps students learn about high-skill, high-wage jobs that exist right here in Volusia County. It provides valuable exposure of students to specific industries, fortifying the local workforce in the process, which is particularly impactful as technology continues to play an ever-increasing role in company operations.

CTE offers students the opportunity to experience hands-on instruction. According to Bree Castelli, Volusia County Schools’ Career & Technology Coordinator, “Academies include concentrated studies relative to a number of professions, giving students direct exposure to their area of interest.”

The academy program combines career education, academics and real-world experiences by collaborating with participating companies. Importantly, it includes industry certifications, which administrators seek for each academy (See table on next page for a breakdown of academies offered at each school).

“By earning certifications, we ensure curriculum is in step with the industry with which the academy is aligned,” Castelli said. “This makes the student experience infinitely more valuable, particularly when seeking a job.”

Academy graduates learn that there are great jobs available – jobs that call for the very skills they have mastered – right here in Volusia County.

Learn more about Volusia County Schools Academies at
https://www.vcsedu.org/cte/career-academies

stemCONNECT: Inspiring Our Next-Generation Workforce

Another community resource that helps grow the local workforce is stemCONNECT, a program of Florida’s High Tech Corridor that helps match student interests with potential careers in STEM-related fields. The program is all virtual and is presented to K-12 students in schools across a 23-county region in the state. stemCONNECT provides an innovative classroom learning experience that inspires and encourages students to explore science, technology, engineering or mathematics more deeply and elevates student interest in tech careers. These web-based sessions bring students virtually into many different environments such as research or medical labs, manufacturing or robotics centers or office spaces. Using video conferencing tools, teachers are matched with subject-matter experts who deliver engaging multi-media presentations about STEM applications.

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The sessions, which include live interaction and engaging conversation with a STEM speaker, have been well received by students and educators alike. Even during the pandemic-impacted 2020-2021 school year, stemCONNECT hosted 145 sessions with the assistance of 300 STEM professionals, reaching over 15,700 students and teachers. In addition, they have added new mentorship videos to make it even more convenient for teachers to incorporate STEM application lessons into their classrooms.

“Some of the programs are pre-planned, but the majority of them are tailored to the specific areas of interest cited by the teacher,” said Amanda Allen, manager of the Florida High Tech Corridor stemCONNECT Program.

The program allows teachers from any central Florida school to request a session or sessions for their students by contacting the stemCONNECT staff at https://www.flstemconnect.com/

Read next article: Corporate Culture.