Monday, October 20, 2014

Florida Ready to Work®: An Economic and Community Approach to Improving the Workforce in Florida

by +Robert Wood, Dean of UNF Division of Continuing Education

Leaders throughout the state of Florida have indicated that in order to stay competitive in recruiting industry and in expanding existing industry we must have a well trained workforce.  Michael O’Leary, President of the Grimes Companies, said; “One of the problems that we are facing is to make sure that the workforce of tomorrow will have the basic skills to compete in the new high tech based economy.”  This is indeed an economic issue in Florida.  We must have a well trained workforce to keep up with the new cluster based economy that we are striving to develop. It is important that when companies are seeking to expand or move to Florida the workforce is capable and ready.  There must be a systematic approach to improve the workforce in the state and in K-12 to ensure that students that graduate have the necessary skills to compete for the available jobs in Florida. This is absolutely critical in recruiting high tech manufacturing companies to the state and Northeast Florida.

According to the Florida Ready to Work® website, "this is an innovative, new workforce education and economic development program. The centerpiece of the program is the Florida Ready to Work credential, a career readiness certificate – signed by Governor Rick Scott – that certifies that a Florida student/jobseeker has the fundamental job skills necessary to succeed in today’s rapidly changing and competitive economy.

Florida Ready to Work® is sponsored and funded by the State of Florida. The program is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The program is being implemented by regional workforce boards, community colleges, high schools, and other workforce development and education partners statewide, including the University of North Florida.
Florida Ready to Work:
  • Provides student/jobseekers with a standard credential that certifies their workplace readiness and ability to succeed on the job.
  • Saves employers time and money by taking the guesswork out of the hiring process.
  • Helps educators and workforce development partners prepare today’s students/jobseekers for tomorrow’s jobs.
  • Helps attract businesses with high-wage jobs to Florida which will grow Florida’s economy.
The program is funded by the State of Florida. There is no cost – other than time – for job seekers or employers to participate in the program."

The University of North Florida also compliments the program by providing Job Analysis under the WorkKeys® System that will allow manufacturers and other companies to know exactly what basic skill levels are required by each job in their company. The WorkKeys® system is based on profiling jobs using subject matter experts.  The job profile determines skills and levels for a particular job in the following: reading for information, applied mathematics, business writing, writing, locating information, teamwork, observation, listening, applied technology and readiness.  These skills are assigned a 0-7 skill level with a 7 being the highest level.  After a profile is completed, potential new hires, existing employees or students can be given the WorkKeys® assessments to determine their skill levels.  The skill levels that individuals have can be matched to the job requirements.  When skill gaps are apparent then training that is provided at no charge for member companies with the Florida Ready to Work Program.

Florida is unique in that it has been a leader in Job Ready Credentials and the University of North Florida has conducted over 200 job analyses for about 150 companies statewide in Florida.

For more information on the Florida Ready to Work Program and Job analysis by the University of North Florida contact Robert Wood, Dean Continuing Education, at