FutureMakers Coalition Uses ‘Navigators’ to Help Local Workforce: Moore About Business


Read the transcript of the interview (edited for clarity):

Karen Moore: Please tell us how the FutureMakers Coalition came about and what its mission is.

Tessa LeSage: So the FutureMakers Coalition is not an organization, but a network of approximately 140 cross-industry partners throughout the five-county area of ​​Southwest Florida. These are Hendry, Glades, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties. And we’re all working together toward a common goal of transforming the Southwest Florida workforce.

We know that by 2025, two out of every three jobs in Florida will require a post-high school diploma. That is why we are working intensively on increasing the number of skilled workers here in our region. We work from the cradle to the career. So, pre-kindergarten learning to the adults that are out there right now, which we call the untapped workforce, who currently don’t have the skills to fill in-demand jobs.

Karen Moore: How long has the FutureMakers Coalition existed?

Tessa LeSage: FutureMakers is about nine years old at this point, so it’s the longest-standing regional collaboration in our Southwest Florida.

Karen Moore: And what’s your role in the organization, Tessa?

Tessa LeSage: I was lucky enough to be here all the time from the start. I’ve worked with national partners and other collaborations across the country and state of Florida to truly build and shape this coalition. My job is simply to support our partners in achieving our common goal.

Karen Moore: What role does FutureMakers play in the $22.9 million human resources development grant that FGCU received last fall?

Tessa LeSage: This grant is truly a testament to how well our region is working together to achieve this goal of increasing the skilled workforce.

Florida Gulf Coast University has partnered with the FutureMakers Coalition to develop the Southwest Florida Equitable Jobs Pipeline. And we have received $22.9 million from the Department of Commerce through the Economic Development Agency to upskill the regional workforce and boost economic development to create a stronger economy here in our region. The role of FutureMakers is actually to coordinate with the various partners across the region as it is a human resource development objective. It will require all of our education partners in the five-county area, from adult education, technical colleges, state colleges, private entities, FGCU, all, as well as employers in four sectors, namely healthcare, logistics, manufacturing and continuing education in our education system from K to 12 who currently have an AA or bachelor’s degree and need further education to become a teacher and have their own classroom.

We plan to place around 1,700 people in these sectors and reach more than 2,500. So we are very excited about this opportunity.

Karen Moore: What are some recent examples of successful community workforce development connections in which FutureMakers have played an important role?

Tessa LeSage: Probably one of the most important parts of this Southwest Florida Equitable Job Pipeline effort is our navigators. FutureMakers Coalition has a program that allows individuals to have a navigator accompany them free of charge to help them remove obstacles to achieving their educational goals and finding a well-paying job in our area.

These navigators are here to truly navigate the education and work systems, and then in turn feed us back information about challenges faced by individuals so we can work with our partners to ensure what we learn to Opportunities will change policies and practices to ensure we have a super-efficient and effective education and workforce pipeline.

We have ministered to hundreds of people. We started our Navigator program last January. We are approaching 600 reconnectors that we are currently working with. These are adults who need to reconnect with education to work in these four sectors.

So we’re really excited about the way these navigators are bringing all of our partner relationships together and using them to help individuals get an education and get into really good jobs.

Karen Moore: How can one become a navigator?

Tessa LeSage: Anyone can recommend people to get a navigator. That’s something like the FutureMaker spirit. We all share this goal, we are all future makers.

So if you work in a non-profit organization or are an employer who has someone who needs further education and it doesn’t matter what sector they are in or what their interest is, you can go to the future website and click on the Navigator tab and sign someone up. And we will contact you immediately.

We actually have a few open positions for your job as a navigator and you can find them under the careers link on the FutureMakers website. But beyond that, anyone who wants to sign up to receive these services and use the resources available to increase their level of education can get the education they need to find a job. We are ready to serve.

Karen Moore: Is there anything else you would like to share with our listeners today, Tessa?

Tessa LeSage: Except this is just a huge opportunity and all the more we can work together and find ways to support this effort: If you are an employer and need manpower, if you work in education and want to find ways to support people who are getting an education If you are working with parents of school age children who could use support please get in touch. We are all future makers. We are all responsible for our education and workforce system and a strong economic development system here in Southwest Florida.

Karen Moore is a Contributing Partner for WGCU and Editor of SWFL Business Today.

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