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FutureMakers Coalition. which is working to transform Southwest Florida’s workforce by increasing the proportion of adults with college degrees, workforce certificates, industry certifications and other credentials to 55% by 2025, presented an overview from the past year in an event named Talent Lives Here.

The 2023 annual FutureMakers Coalition Champions meeting included a keynote address by Mark Wilson, Florida Chamber of Commerce, as well as presentations on building rural learning systems in Hendry County; Stop Out programs by Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College; supporting workforce readiness by Lee Health and Shell Point; manufacturing career pathways; Workforce Now’s Southwest Florida report; Southwest Florida Equitable Jobs Pipeline; and Gerri Moll of Bank of America and Mike Boose of Arthrex.

Now in its ninth year, the coalition said it has grown to more than 150 organizations 260 community leaders representing business. education. government, nonprofits. philanthropy, residents and students across Glades, Hendry, Collier, Lee, and Charlotte counties. Sixty percent of the partner organizations have changed policies or practices because of their work with the coalition.

“We’ve got a problem. About 70% of Florida’s jobs are going to require a credential beyond high school by 2025 and we don’t have the skilled workers to get there. We also have a large number of residents that are about to retire or are currently retiring out of the system every single day and we don’t have the skilled workers to replace them,” said Tessa LeSage, FutureMakers director. Collaboratory, which is serving as the backbone organization for the coalition. “We are trying to create solutions for those that are already in the pipeline and trying to change the pipeline that’s producing our workforce. No single entity can solve a big social problem on its own. This system requires us to work together to change our policies or practices. the things that have not evolved to the changing cosmmunity and contexts that we’re living in today.”

Since 2013, the coalition said it has helped increase the percentage of qualified workers with needed education or training from 39% to 43.7%.

During the event, Justin Saarinen. client service leader for COM Smith, an employee-owned engineering and construction firm. presented a check for $25,000 to the coalition for its ongoing work in the region.

In 2021, Bank of America granted $300,000 to further the coalition’s goal of transforming Southwest Florida’s workforce. Through the grant and other funding, coalition navigators were created and began seeking referrals to connect adults needing training programs to acquire better paying jobs as well as students who previously attended college but did not complete a credential or certification. These referrals are called reconnectors, the coalition said.

“Navigators are here to help adults who need to reconnect with education or training to get into well-paying jobs to change their lives. to change the lives of their families and hopefully to help build our workforce. build our businesses and grow a strong economy,” LeSage said. “Navigators are there to remove barriers. They’re there to help make the system work for a group of people that the system currently isn’t 100% designed for:”