Teaching the science and technology of tomorrow

St. Petersburg College in Florida, is offering science and technology programs to its students, as they pursue the skills they need to land the latest jobs. The school works diligently to assure the training inside the classroom is what businesses need now.


St. Petersburg College in Florida is offering science and technology programs to its students as they pursue the skills they need to land the latest jobs.

The school works diligently to assure the training inside the classroom is what businesses need now.

Here's the story.

More and more employers are requiring ever-higher levels of education in order to fill their workforce needs.

And, in fact, labor economists with Georgetown University project that by as early as the year 2020, fully 65% of all job openings in Florida will require some form of post-secondary education.

As the executive director of the Florida College Access Network, Laurie Meggesin works with universities, community colleges, and technical schools to help students reach their potential.

We will need, as a state, to increase the number of working age Floridians with at least a two-year degree by 1.7% a year, year over year, over the next decade.

And while we are seeing advances in degree completion in Florida, it's nowhere near where that needs to be if we're going to meet that goal.

Having a workforce ready for Florida's businesses remains a daunting task.

Many are looking to community colleges and technical programs to speed up the process and ensure Floridians are ready to work.

One such school is St. Petersburg College.

We want to guide students in career pathways, and there are lots of different avenues to a career.

The advisers at the college have all been trained in career development facilitation.

That means their conversations that they're having with the students are centered on, 'What is your goal?

Find out who you are as a person, where your interests are, and how you fit into the world of work.'

Of that, how do I fit into the occupations that are in demand?

But we align them directly to our programs of study, provide the links to them so they can explore exactly what programs we have that match their interests and abilities.

Dr. Krupp heads up the workforce services here at St. Petersburg College.

Their department provides a variety of events to support students as they plan their career.

I think the welcome back session was a fun thing for the programs to do for students each semester to welcome them back and get them re-acclimated to the college environment.

Then we host information sessions like supply chain management information session, where you can learn about occupations in that field.

And then we host job fairs on each campus.

We have at least two job fairs a semester.

Couple of our campuses have Working Wednesday, which basically is just like a smaller scale job fair, and we'll have a couple or three employers who come on campus and set up a table and advertise their positions.

We try to get them connected with their potential employers as much as possible through online job boards, through campus events, and activities in the classroom.

The science and technology programs offered provide numerous levels of attainment for students as they follow their career path.

We have about 100 degree programs that are called workforce programs.

About 20 of those are baccalaureate, and the other 80 are associate in science and certificate programs.

So our associate in science degrees are tied directly to jobs, and those are two-year degrees generally, and they have embedded certificates within them, so if a student wants to be -- goes into computer networking, a two-year degree, but in one or two semesters, they can get a Cisco certification, a certificate.

They can continue to go along and enroll and finish the associate in science degree program, and that's another stopping point in the pathway, and that all leads into the bachelors degrees, and they all tie together.

And the college works very closely with local business and industry leaders.

We align our programs with occupations that are in high demand in our region.

We share that information with the students so that they can see, 'Here are the average salaries or median salaries of people in these occupations that are aligned with the jobs.'

We show them the demand for the jobs, too.

You don't want to look at just salary, but you want to say, 'How many openings are there gonna be in the next 10 years?'

We have an online job board.

We're helping them with the résumé development.

We're helping them with mock interviews and all the skills that they need to help land that job.

And the connections do not end there.

The school works diligently to assure the training inside the classroom meets what businesses need now.

We have 38 advisory committees that help shape the programs that we offer.

And over 500 companies are represented on those committees, so they are helping guide our curriculum, our activities, and our programs to make sure that we are helping our students be prepared and have the right kind of skills that are in demand by those companies in our backyard.

Schools like St. Petersburg College continue to retool in order to meet the needs of businesses.

But according to Laurie Meggesin, businesses play a major role, too.

Businesses can participate, whether it's working with their own employees or partnering with local institutions, the nonprofit community, helping to support efforts at local schools in order to help ensure that students have the resources and information that they need in order to succeed.