Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Effort to Link Future Workers and Employers

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Effort to Link Future Workers and Employers

Article excerpt

SARASOTA COUNTY

Leaders here are embarking on a wide-ranging plan to create stronger connections between local schools and real-world employers.

After six months of consensus-seeking and focus groups, a Talent4Tomorrow Partnership "action team" met for the first time in late January to refine goals and set deadlines.

"We've got the right people around the table," said Teri A. Hansen, president and chief executive of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.

In addition to the foundation, the partnership includes the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; the Sarasota County School District; State College of Florida; University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee; Ringling College of Art & Design; the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County; New College of Florida and the CEOs of PGT Inc. and Sun Hydraulics Corp.

Partnerships such as Talent4Tomorrow have sprung up around the country, and are sometimes referred to as "cradle-to-career" groups or P-20 Councils.

The fledgling Sarasota group also has allied itself with a national organization called Strive Together.

"We went to the national conference they put together in Dallas at the end of July and were so impressed we joined in August," said Steve Queior, president and chief executive of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. "Now we can compare notes with 90 other communities."

The group's action team is sorting through numerous specific goals, with the aim of focusing on three or four priorities.

Queior described one goal as "the raw work of increasing graduations and certifications."

Other possibilities are to allow for more job shadowing programs, or school field trips to interesting workplaces.

Experts in fast-growing fields also might venture into schools more frequently under Talent4Tomorrow, to explain what their work is like.

Jeff Hazelton, the founder and chief executive of Sarasota-based BioLucid who is also a Talent4Tomorrow board member, is already doing that. …

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