According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce by 2030, Florida will add six million more residents and will need to create 2 million net new jobs.  Disruptive technologies, increased automation, digitization, and advances in machine learning in the next decade and a half will compound and or potentially widen the Sunshine States talent gap.

So where do we go? What can higher education do to turn the tide? Here are three ways higher education can step up.

Three C’s: Communicate, Coordinate & Cooperate

The good news, higher education is already doing a lot, from capstone courses that offer tangible exposure to curriculum redesign to align with industry needs.  But higher education needs to do more AND equally important share what’s working on our campuses and why. According to Amabile et al.’s (2001) model of cross-profession collaboration are the “communication, coordination, and cooperation” (420) of the collaborative process.  The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Universities fosters cross profession collaboration in a variety of ways including: topic specific peer to peer communications, small group meetings and issue specific initiatives. We also shine the light on our “hits or misses” during our annual Student Success Conference.

Closing the talent gap may require higher education to do something that we are not typically not wired to do however collaborative efforts within higher education that can be scaled and replicated could be the secret weapon to closing the talent gap in Florida.

Career Readiness for Digital Natives

Central Florida Talent Gap Analysis report from Career Source Central Florida offers some insight “the jobs today are different than jobs of 40 years ago and will be different in 10 years. Students entering college in the fall will have to update their technical knowledge and skills throughout the four year education to be relevant at graduation.” Higher education is home to a host of digital first student. Digital first students can use social networking tools with little to no training and yet they have trouble using similar tools when they enter the workforce.  Alternatively students returning to higher education to support a career change are at a marked disadvantage with limited digital skills. Faculty and administrators can and should use the tools to meet students where they are and to help prepare them for where they are going.

“The Florida High Tech Corrido is home to innovative companies that span industries including Manufacturing with 3D printing, Hospitality with Walt Disney World’s MagicBand1 , Healthcare with integrated medical records systems and advances in robotic surgery, Financial Services with Business Analytics, Aerospace with unmanned aircraft systems, Modeling and Simulation with Dismounted Soldier Training Systems (DSTS).”

Plainly stated the state’s workforce will be required to continuously learn and refresh skills. For example, the Disney one of the largest employers in the state developed the Disney MagicBand, a Radio-frequency identification (RFID ) visitor experience management system to better understand, track and assist more their more than 30 million Florida guests annually. Disney trained 60,000 employees on the DisneyMagicBand. The implications for this system differ across business unit and role, but the point here is that Disney employees were expected to learn a new skill to help them service this organization’s large customer base.


Today’s employers recruit and hire workers that hit the ground running on day one.  They’re looking to hire employees with experience and this includes entry positions. This is a challenge for students currently matriculating and recent graduates. However, all is not lost, internships can help students to get the experience they need to secure that first job.  According to Burning Glass Technologies, State of American Internships  “employers are quite specific about the skills they want–which means that students who haven’t picked up these abilities in advance may not get in the door.”  Higher education can arm students. Career Services teams can use the extra help.  We can and should cascade this information across our campuses.  Faculty, advisors, resident life, academic and support offices need can use this information help students translate what they’re learning into marketable skills and or experience that employers want.

In summary, the Florida Consortium is on a mission to transform our students’ lives and the metro communities we serve. Florida’s talent gap didn’t happen overnight and there’s no silver bullet that will close it. We’ve mentioned a few ways higher education can step up but we know there are other ways to do so. We’re actively engage and we know this is a long game. Next month we’ll be attending Florida College Access Network (FCAN) annual summit to discuss to discuss Florida’s talent gap and more. This year’s theme is “ Better Together, Breaking Down Barriers” we’re looking forward to sharing our findings and learning from change makers from throughout our state that are actively working on policies, practices, and partnerships to help students and ultimately contribute to closing the talent gap in the Sunshine State


Amabile, T.M., Nasco, C.P., Wojcik, T., Odomirok, P.W., Marsh, M., Kramer, S.J. (2001). Academic-practitioner collaboration in management research: A case of cross-professional collaboration. Academy of Management Journal, 44(2), 418-431.

Lamback, Sara, Jobs for the Future, Florida Jobs 2030 Report, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tallahasee, 2017

Florida Talent Gap Analysis, CareerSource Central Florida (CSCF), Brevard, and Flagler Volusia and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council

State of American Internships, Burning Glass Technologies

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