Learners to Earners Summit: Adult education may remedy workforce shortage

Florida is in a unique situation: more open positions than unemployed persons.

What do educational leaders, military veterans and state prison officials have in common? They want Florida’s business community to get more involved.

Speaking at the Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit in Orlando, sector leaders highlight adult education as a remedy for Florida’s growing workforce shortage after the COVID-19 pandemic.

They simply need the business community’s input to align the skills of their populations to the needs of their workforce.

“My plea to the business community is to join the school districts, join the state colleges, join the local workforce development boards, join the Chambers in addressing adult education,” said Department of Education Division of Career and Adult Education Chancellor Henry Mack.

The Tuesday discussion comes as Florida’s business community reaches a unique predicament: more open positions than unemployed persons in the state.

Alongside Mack, others, including Veterans Florida Program Director Jeremy Sinnemaki, encouraged job creators to consider nontraditional applicants.

Sinnemaki stressed that veterans often possess translatable skills.

“Most veterans come with a pretty wide variety of skills that can translate into something equivalent that you might have at your company,” Sinnemaki said. “Their resumes may not look the same as everybody else and so what that means is you might have to take somebody that doesn’t have all the certifications, or all the little boxes that you need checked and help them to get those final skills.”

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch, meanwhile, highlighted the efforts his department has taken to develop the incarcerated population, including through educational and job skills programs.

Those programs, however, are only half the battle. Noting that 85% of inmates will return to Florida communities, Inch encouraged the business community to meet him “behind the fence line” with jobs or further educational opportunities for returning citizens.

In the end, Inch said, returning citizens have three chief needs: housing, jobs and community acceptance.

“My plea to you is that we start the relationship while the men and women are still incarcerated,” Inch said. “It’s too late to start the relationship at the sallyport.”

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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