Education Key in Movement Toward Stronger Economy
There’s a growing understanding across Florida of what it takes to create the talent we need to grow a strong, diversified economy that provides pathways to prosperity for all Floridians.
During a recent stop in Panama City, I had the privilege of participating in this movement alongside peers in business, education, government and economic development. Together, we pledged to join the “RISE to 55” campaign established by state leaders to raise the percentage of working-age Floridians with a degree, industry certification or educational certificate from the current 47 percent to 55 percent by 2025.
While the creation of new policies by our political leaders is critical to achieving this goal, the collaboration of community partners is equally important to making a difference. Rarely is government policy “one size fits all.” Local partners must band together to better understand the realities of post-secondary pathways for all residents, establish common goals and develop unique solutions that will overcome barriers to higher education attainment in Northwest Florida.
Through Gulf Power Company, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with partners and programs that are already modeling what needs to be done to increase our community’s competitiveness. Achieve Escambia, for example, is the county’s first collective impact effort that brings numerous cross-sector partners together to strengthen the workforce development pipeline from cradle to career, in an effort to ensure prosperity for all citizens. Engaging cross-sector partnerships is one avenue for making post-secondary education more accessible and ensuring educational offerings are tailored to the specific needs of our business community, thus resulting in family-sustaining wage employment for the graduate.
An appropriately trained workforce is essential to the growth and diversification of our economy. Raising the level of post-secondary educational attainment is sure to open the doors of our community and the state to business expansion and investment, and enhance our quality of life by creating meaningful career opportunities for current residents and future generations.
When the “RISE to 55” movement reaches your community, I hope you will join me and answer its call.
Jennifer Grove is community development manager at Gulf Power Company.