Workforce Symposium Connects People, Opportunities and Resources
Most communities list attracting high-tech industries as an essential piece of their economic development and job growth plans. That requires a highly skilled workforce to fill those jobs and a system to provide training opportunities to gain those skills.
But creating the conditions where that happens takes cooperation, collaboration and participation, qualities that were on display earlier this month at the Workforce Development Symposium, co-hosted by the Southeast Volusia Manufacturing & Technology Coalition and Volusia Business Resources. The event, held at the Brannon Center in New Smyrna Beach, also included partners CareerSource Flagler Volusia, and the cities of New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater and Oak Hill.
“It’s critical to our mission to have a skilled workforce,” said Southeast Volusia Manufacturing & Technology Coalition President Bliss Jamison. “We’re here to day to see how we can improve workforce development.”
The symposium featured presentations from Robin King, president and CEO of CareerSource Flagler Volusia; Sherryl Weems, associate vice president of the Mary Karl College of Workforce & Continuing Education at Daytona State College; Sarah Dougherty, founder and COO at Dougherty Manufacturing; Tyler Cheatham, a graduate of the FAME program and employee at Dougherty Manufacturing; Kristen Pierce, CTE coordinator with Volusia Schools; and Cobb Cole attorney Doug Collins.
King kicked off the panel presentation with an overview of CareerSource’s role in workforce development and helping residents gain the high-tech skills in demand.
“We help someone who thinks they are not relevant anymore because they do not have the skills to compete,” she said.
But the need to recognize the changing nature of work and the kind of skills needed to succeed is the responsibility of employers as well as employees, King said.
“The No. 1 reason people are leaving their jobs is none is developing their talent,” she said.
Another issue King said needs attention is the changing demographics of some industry sectors. She cited the growing cybersecurity sector as an example.
“It seems like our labor force is aging and we need to create awareness around these industries,” she said.
Weems took the business owners, residents and local government representatives in attendance on virtual tour through DSC’s workforce development efforts, highlighting Daytona State’s certificate programs, career and technical training and continuing workforce education efforts.
“We have made a commitment to this community,” she said. “And we listen to what the community is asking of us.”
Doughtery recounted her company’s experience with the FAME program – an acronym for Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education – and the need for workforce development.
“It’s up to us to expose (students) them and show them what’s out there,” she said. “We’re looking for more people to join us with boots on the ground.”
Pierce, whose first day as CTE coordinator began at the symposium, talked about the career and technical education opportunities at Volusia Schools.
“We want to connect our students to high-wage, high-demand jobs,” she said. “An educated workforce is the basis for the economic health of our county.”
Pierce said Volusia Schools students can choose from 70 industry certifications and 86% of the career and technical education programs have an aligned industry certification.
“Parents and students are really starting to see the value in these industry certifications,” Pierce said.