Deloitte’s Future of Work Institute prioritizes human-centered skills to aid UF students entering the workforce

Deloitte FOWI
Over the weekend, 49 UF students participated in Deloitte’s Future of Work Institute.

With help from Deloitte, Florida students are taking the initiative to hone their skills in preparation for entering the workforce.

A degree from a well-renowned public university is beneficial to building a resume. But some students are taking their education a step further to ready themselves for a successful career. Over the weekend, 49 students at the University of Florida participated in Deloitte’s Future of Work Institute, during which they earned a micro-credential, certifying their career and workplace readiness.

“Skills are never set in stone, especially now with the way the [computer science] industry is moving,” said Kesavan Nanjappan, a UF student set to graduate in 2024. “The workplace expects their workforce to be ready to learn and adapt; to not be fixed by absolute requirements but seek innovation.”

The Future of Work Institute (FOWI) is a two-day program comprised of seven unique content sessions — three core lab sessions where students dive deep into the basic elements of the Future of Work, two ancillary activities for students to apply the skills they’ve learned and one final graduation ceremony. Deloitte hosts the FOWI in collaboration with dozens of college and university campuses across the country.

Led by certified Deloitte facilitators, the FOWI helps students strengthen critical thinking, problem-solving and other skills sought by employers. The program emphasizes the importance of bridging the gap now between their academic expertise and the skills their future employers will need.

This semester’s program at the University of Florida is another installment of the Future of Work in the Sunshine State. Deloitte partnered with Florida State University to launch their pilot program two years ago.

The labor market has undergone a significant transformation in the last several years, making it more important than ever that students know how to adapt to these changes. The FOWI helps undergraduates understand how human skills, like adaptability, resilience and empathy, can help them thrive and stay resilient throughout their career.

“This program provides students with the opportunity to network with experienced professionals and fine-tune their human-centered skills,” said David Friedman, a principal at Deloitte Consulting who leads Deloitte’s work with the state of Florida. “We’re proud to work closely with the University of Florida to bring this innovative career readiness programming to students to help give them the skills they need to succeed in their careers.”

FOWI program participants are engaged in immersive activities that present opportunities for collaboration, self-reflection and pragmatic application of concepts they will face in their future jobs.

The February session included two activities, AI Fluency and Telling Your Story, that gave University of Florida students the opportunity to apply the content they had learned in real time.

“The Skills Catalyst exercise showed me what my strengths and weaknesses are and showed me how to cater my job search towards those skills,” said UF student Lauren Johnson, who is expected to graduate this semester. “It showed me what I need to work on, for example, learning to be more adaptable by putting myself in tough situations so I can be a better employee in the future.”

A recent study from the Cengage Group found that 6 of the 10 most in-demand skills employers are looking for today are “essentially human capabilities.” That focus on human skills was apparent during the Telling Your Story activity, where students were guided through exercises to help them effectively communicate their strengths to future employers.

Since the program’s inception in 2021, the Future of Work InstituteTM has helped hundreds of students across the nation boost their confidence and prepare to enter the workforce. In Fall 2022, 89% of program participants indicated they would recommend the Institute to a friend or colleague and 93% felt the program was useful to them. These same participants also reported increases in their feelings of professional readiness and career planning confidence at the conclusion of the program. Students who complete all labs and activities earn a Deloitte-affiliated micro-credential, which they can add to their profile on LinkedIn.

“The things that excite me [about joining the workforce] are the people I will interact with and meet because they will have interesting perspectives and learning from them will be valuable,” said UF student Nil Aydinoz, a member of the class of 2026. “Participating in the Institute has highlighted what it takes to be an inclusive and servant leader, which will be useful in any setting.”

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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