ERICA FISH, Public Policy Intern
The Greater Naples Chamber hosted Henry Mack, Florida’s chancellor for career & adult education, along with a variety of employers, educators, coalitions, and non-profits to discuss how businesses can support workforce education in Collier County and the state of Florida.
Provided with an overview of the state’s current career and adult education system, guests were able
to ask Mack what innovative approaches they can master when supporting economic mobility, workforce education, and integrating life skills in underprivileged areas.
Attendees were learned about how the Florida Legislature is addressing career and technical education, such as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Get There” campaign, rebranding workforce education through the Integrated Education and Training Program.
The governor recently announced more than $5.8 million toward workforce education opportunities in rural communities of Collier County, prioritizing the public school system and technical colleges.
Highlighting the approaches made by the governor and the Florida Legislature, Mack explained how employers and educators can work together to grow the workforce.
“It takes more than marketing to alleviate areas with high poverty and low retainment rates,” he said. “Use communities to assist the areas.”
In Florida, 4 million to 5 million individuals can hardly read or do arithmetic, and approximately 1.8 million people between the ages 28 and 58 don’t have a high school diploma or GED. About 13,000 children in Collier County live in poverty.
“Childhood poverty connects to parents with a low education basis and no diploma,” he said.
Improving the quality of life increases the likelihood for greater economic mobility and the chances for families to get out of their impoverished circumstances.
When the economy grows, the region grows, and integrating life skills for those who prefer career and techncial education, achieves higher graduation rates, provides academic alternatives for struggling students, retains funding, and deepens community ties.
“There are other options besides traditional 4-year university,” said Mack. “The value of CTE means applied learning, high wages, industry certifications, and students more likely to go to college.”
Demonstrating leadership supporting the initiatives to expand educational opportunities for all persons – no matter their age and socioeconomic background – secures people scoring high-pay and high-demand careers, and Collier County businesses are doing just that, through their support for workforce education.