Bill Martin, Executive Director of the Greater Osceola Partnership for Economic Prosperity, was a guest on this month’s episode of Economic Development Secrets. He emphasizes the importance of workforce development programs and shares examples of how his organization and region prioritizes training their talent pool.
CareerSource Florida, they are kind of the training aspect of the whole talent pool equation. Based on a project, a local company that might be expanding or a new company that might be coming in, they can design tailor-made programs. In fact, if the company already has a program, CareerSource can just fund their program, but literally can cover all the costs associated with training new employees. So it’s been a very attractive program. It’s a flexible program. It’s something that literally every project needs. That’s been great.
I think Florida and particularly Greater Osceola have been very aggressive in helping develop that talent pool, clear back into the local school districts. In fact, our school district offers STEM training, and through a grant from Osceola County every elementary and middle school in Osceola County has STEM training. We’ve improved our graduation rate. We’ve improved our test scores. The school district is building a $75 million STEM high school now. Through that process, we’ve really helped elevate the quality of the future workforce.
Then we have Valencia College, which in 2013 was named the Best Community College in the United States. They’ve got two campuses here, getting ready to open a campus in Poinciana this fall, about 15,000, and offering associate’s degrees. Plus, if you get an associate’s degree from Valencia College, there’s a program called Direct Connect, which means they can be automatically accepted into the University of Central Florida, which is now the second largest public university in the United States, and just does a tremendous job of not only baccalaureate degrees but advanced degrees and industry research, as well.
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