Conversations that dive deep into the ever-changing world of talent and economic development from the perspectives of those designing, working in, and experiencing these systems.
Workforce Development: Rural communities
Rural communities face many economic barriers and there are many challenges to finding solutions to address poverty, both of which have been heightened since the onset of COVID-19. At the time of recording, Mike Swindle was Hendry County Commissioner and Director of Workforce Development for Hendry County Schools. He has since been elected to Superintendent of Hendry County District School. Mike explains to us how COVID-19 affected the challenges Hendry County was facing before the onset of the pandemic, and the new challenges it has created for the community. He shares valuable information about what it takes to help students and other individuals defeat generational poverty and shared some of the successful outcomes of his program. He also expressed the need for change in how adult-learners are reached and encouraged to finish their degrees and provides us with some examples used by his program and the benefits they have seen. Mike explained what it is like to finish a certification program with Workforce Development for Hendry County and the ease of connecting students to jobs right after completion due to the high workforce demands. He shares the benefits his program has experienced through collaboration with other organizations, while also expressing the challenges rural communities face when trying to collaborate and how external entities can help minimize these challenges and support rural communities.
Higher Education: Shifting the way we do business
In this episode of the FutureMakers Coalition Talent Talk we chat with the president of Hodges University, Dr. John Meyer. John shared his postsecondary experience as an adult learner and how it has helped him in his current position and allowed him to support his students. He also shares common barriers adults face that prohibit them from getting a higher education, and how the education system should take them into consideration and design programs to help priority populations complete their degrees. Dr. Meyer expresses the need for collaboration between employers and colleges and universities and gives advice to small businesses who are having difficulties growing their business and finding skilled and qualified workers. He also tells us how he, as the president of a University, is helping his students thrive amid a pandemic and economic crisis, and some things he believes need to change in our education system and workforce to assist people in Southwest Florida get jobs and make a livable wage.
Workplaces: Equity and cultural competence
Our guest this episode is Dr. Nicole King-Smith, a certified culture consultant who works with organizations in the private and public sectors on ways to improve equity and cultural competence on internal and external fronts. Dr. King-Smith shares her passion for generational change and the qualities we are seeing in our region’s future skilled workers, and how organizations must establish inclusivity practices now to accommodate for the incoming workforce. She also addresses the adaptations the workforce has made in the face of COVID-19, particularly the hospitality and tourism industry, and gives her advice to workers in these businesses who have been affected by the pandemic. Dr. King-Smith elaborates extensively on her Equity work, including her role on the FutureMakers Equity Action Team, her perspectives on racial and ethnic disparities in her field, and finally, tips and guidance for organizations looking to implement equity practices.
Student Voices: Finishing what you started
Around 20% of the working-age adults in Southwest Florida who do not have a credential beyond a high school diploma started college but did not complete their degree. Many of these students stop-out of college because of financial barriers or other responsibilities that prohibit them from dedicating the necessary time to school to be successful. One of these adults is Megan Overmyer, an adult learner at Florida Gulf Coast University. This past summer, Megan was able to return to FGCU and join FGCU Complete. Megan tells us about her academic journey, and how she is the first person in her family to attend college. While talking with Megan we quickly learned of her courage and strength, being a mother of four who is recently widowed, working full-time while being a student. In this session she explains how FGCU Complete made it feasible for her to return to school after 20 years to complete her degree. Megan also explains the process of acquiring financial aid as an adult learner; she gives very beneficial advice to adults who are looking to go back to school and complete a degree but are wary of the process because of the financial strain.
Adult learners: Adapting for success
In this episode of the FutureMakers Coalition Talent Talk we hear from Kristen Vanselow, the Director of Operations for FGCU Complete. Kristen describes what the FGCU Complete program is and their goal of welcoming back adult-learners, removing barriers to degree completion, being more inclusive for this student population, and personalizing the experience for adult-learners. She discusses the difference between student groups and the different challenges they face depending on life experience. Kristen also shares with us FGCU’s definition of “stop-out students” and this university’s dedication to welcoming these students back and doing everything they can to create an environment in which they can thrive and finish what they started.
Student Voices: Finding your passion