Business Columns & Blogs

Focus on Manatee: Here’s how Florida is investing in the next-generation workforce

As we enter the fall season, it is notable that 2019 has provided many wins for education and workforce collaboration.

One of these significant victories is the passing of Florida legislation CS/HB 7071: Workforce Education.

At the official signing of the bill in June, Gov. Ron DeSantis stated that, “In signing this bill, we are ensuring that Florida continues to build upon its economic momentum and future workforce by investing in the next generation.”

Career readiness and new opportunities are at the center of this legislation. The letter (and spirit) of this law requires tight collaboration among business, education, government and the social sectors to meet aggressive objectives.

It provides an alternative high school diploma opportunity for career and technical students. It adopted the “SAIL to 60” initiative to focus efforts to reach a goal that at least 60 percent of Floridians have a post-secondary credential.

CareerSource Suncoast fosters regional alignment as part of its core strategy. The need to work together and leverage resources has never been more acute.

Ted Ehrlichman.jpg
Ted Ehrlichman is the president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast.

Local schools and students are an essential part of the picture. On Oct. 15, we will welcome nearly 1,200 high school students from 24 schools in four counties for our sixth annual State of Jobs Conference (SOJC) at Bayside East Bradenton.

This year’s SOJC welcomes more than 100 businesses and volunteers to participate in inspiring the next generation workforce with sessions in health care, information technology, arts/design, business and engineering/manufacturing.

In addition to business-led sector-specific sessions, students will engage with top local leadership. SOJC will hold leadership round-table sessions with a new hands-on experience where students will have the opportunity to interact with key industries, including first responders, health care and the skilled trades.

The goal of SOJC is college and career exploration. Thanks to our partners in higher education, students will understand how institutions locally and from around the state connect to high demand industries.

As part of our data collection efforts, we are launching a new SOJC conference application for students. This app will allow students to interact with organizers utilizing surveys to collect data on their perceptions of college and career.

For more information about the State of Jobs Conference, visit

Ted Ehrlichman, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, writes about workforce issues across the region.

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