Friday, February 2, was deemed unofficially, “Education & Workforce Day” at The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce as we hosted two separate events both focused on connecting students to the local business community to enlighten young talent of the job opportunities in the area.
Experience Engineering Luncheon
The first event was the 3rd Annual “Experience Engineering Luncheon” at Suncoast Technical College, where 125 high school juniors and seniors met with engineers from 22 local companies to discuss career and educational pathways into engineering. The engineers, ranging in areas of specialty, also brought examples of their company’s products, diagrams, and project plans to help illustrate how they solve problems with engineering.
“We are honored to help connect students with local employers to ensure a pipeline of future workforce talent, particularly in the high demand STEM-related fields,” shared The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce President, Kevin Cooper. “It’s through the power of partnerships with great organizations like CareerEdge and Sarasota County Schools that we are able to foster the next generation of innovators for Sarasota’s future.” Todd Bowden, Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools, advised the students at the beginning of the event, “We want you to be successful in college and in your engineering programs, but we also want you to come back when you graduate. Today is about seeing that there are great engineering careers right here in Sarasota.”
The event was hosted by the Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and Sarasota County Schools Career and Technical Education Program.
USFSM-Chamber Job Shadowing Event
The second event was a pilot program by USF Sarasota-Manatee and The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce to provide students with one-on-one, executive-level job-shadowing experiences with Chamber Board of Directors.
For two hours, 11 USFSM students “shadowed” local executives to learn the intricacies of their businesses, how they evolved through emerging technology, regulations and changing public attitudes, and, generally, what the executives do on a day-to-day basis.
After the session, the students and executives attended a lunch and networking event at The Chamber where the teams shared their views about the experience.
The idea, according to Jay Riley, director of business development and engagement at USFSM, was to enhance the students’ education while providing “an authentic context” of the workplace.
Chamber President Kevin Cooper said one intention of the shadowing session was to convince students about the Sarasota-Manatee area’s many job opportunities.
“Awareness is a critical pathway to success,” he said. “We want students to be aware of the many opportunities present in Sarasota and employers to be aware of the homegrown talent emerging from our educational institutions.”
Both of these programs are examples of the ways your Chamber is connecting its members to the future workforce. Attracting and retaining talent in Sarasota is key to economic development and reducing the skills gap.