The very successful 2011 Central Florida Workforce Connections Summit, presented by the Central Florida Human Resources Association (CFHRA) featured a series of presentations and panel discussions focused on ways to link employers, education, and government to build a stronger community. The event was held on September 27, at the Wyndham Hotel, Orlando.
Rollins College President, Lewis Duncan delivered the morning keynote address at the summit, in which he challenged business, education, government, and local community leaders to think strategically as to how each constituent group can collaborate to build a stronger Central Florida workforce. He presented strategies these leaders can employ to identify skills required to build a sustainable pool of talent to attract employers to our region. He also spoke about the specific industries that are currently driving our local economy based on projected demands and what we will need to do to ensure a viable marketplace for future growth.
A panel of employers discussed their views on how to build a stronger regional workforce so that local employers can become more competitive. The panel addressed employer needs, including knowledge, skills, and abilities, and they explored how the stakeholders in the regions can collaborate to achieve these standards. The presenters included Roger Lear, President and Founder of OrlandoJobs.com; Heather McBride, MBA, SPHR, GPHR, VP of Human Resources at Fiserv and member of the Board of Directors of the Central Florida HR Association; and Greg Thompson, MA, Corporate Director of HR for Orlando Health.
Marc Stanakis, president and board member with the Jobs Partnership of Florida, and Tami Kaiser discussed their delivery model and how elements of their program can be used by private employers to build a stronger, more competitive workforce. Stanakis has served as president since 1999, where he works with some of the most challenging workforce issues in our community. Before that, Marc was VP with the Orlando Regional Service, running Workforce 2020, where he formed a diverse group of strategists drawn from the faith community, business, and the workforce development community, for advancing collaboration to assist Florida’s poor, which resulted in a published recommendation to Workforce Florida. The Jobs Partnership model is one of the most successful programs in building an amazing set of soft skills to the region’s chronically unemployed and underemployed.
Later that morning, Cari Coats, executive director of the Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship, moderated the Education Panel discussion on how to close the skills gap through educational partnerships. The panelists included Dr. Nasser Hedayat, AVP for Workforce Development at Valencia College; Elliot Vittes, PhD, Interim Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Central Florida; and Janet Addair, Associate Superintendent of the Orange County Public Schools’ (OCPS) Career and Technical Education. According to the January 2011 Congressional Budget Office report, “the recovery in employment has been slowed not only by the moderate growth in output in the past year and a half, but also by structural changes in the labor market, such as a mismatch between the requirements of available jobs and the skills of job seekers, that have hindered the reemployment of workers who have lost their job.” This panel discussion brought together education, business, and industry leaders to learn about innovative ways to partner with educational providers to enhance the employability of Central Florida’s workforce.
The summit concluded with a luncheon keynote address by Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs who addressed government’s role in workforce readiness. Mayor Jacobs emphasized that local and regional governments play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining industries. As such, their understanding and commitment to building a workforce that is capable, skilled, and in tune with industry needs is essential to our community. Mayor Jacobs discussed Central Florida’s economy—past and present, the future job impact of current and new business clusters, what new skills are needed to build a foundation to sustain these clusters, and the role of government as a facilitator in workforce development.