Submitted By: Carrie Root, Alpha UMi, Inc.Program Contact: Tina Gottus, Director, Corporate and Community EducationPhone: 863-784-7466Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Soft Skills Accelerator is an aggressive program created through a partnership between South Florida State College (SFSC) and CareerSource Heartland (CSH) to bridge the gap between job applicant behavior and employer expectations to accelerate the economic prosperity of Florida’s Heartland by developing soft skills. The lack of soft skills in the workforce is the nationally-recognized issue that is impacting the business community throughout our country and hindering the economic potential of our nation.
The effects of this problem are felt even worse in rural regions with their smaller population base. As an example, Highlands County, one of four counties in the Career Source Heartland area (LWDA 19), is one of the 12 counties identified by Governor Rick Scott as part of the State’s “Opportunities for Improved Economic Outcomes” initiative. Counties on this list are those with higher unemployment rates, minimum labor force growth, low labor force participation, lower average annual wages, food stamp rates above State average, higher poverty rates, and lower educational attainment. SFSC and CSH are utilizing the 5G® Power Skills Certification program as the framework for a Soft Skills Accelerator strategic initiative for addressing this need in their community.
The components of the 5G Power Skills program (e.g., reliability/time management, communication, leadership, and problem-solving) are skills that should have been learned in the home, and further developed throughout the K-12 educational pathway. However, as evidenced through numerous conversations with local employers via CSH’s Sector Strategy Program initiative and CSH Business Operations team communications and surveys, local companies in our workforce area repeatedly report having an extremely difficult time finding suitable candidates to employ. The main disconnect between employer needs and candidate qualifications is often a lack of soft skills. In many cases, this has resulted in businesses having to turn down work opportunities due to a lack of employees.
The Soft Skills Accelerator strategic initiative has several components that will ensure it will be self-sustaining into the future. 1. SFSC will ultimately embed the 5G® Power Skills program’s components and competencies into the curriculum of all programs at the college through the development of a standalone two-credit course covering all 25 modules of the 5G Power Skills curriculum. 2. SFSC has incorporated 5G Power Skills into its continuing education program. Working with CareerSource Heartland, this has made the program accessible to the individuals who need it.
This program IS replicable at other institutions. Once the 2-credit course is completed, it will be part of the catalog of courseware available under the State of Florida’s common curriculum program for use by other colleges and universities. In addition, the 5G Power Skills Program is available for implementation at other continuing education programs, and indeed has been enthusiastically embraced by a growing number of academic institutions.
Use of the curriculum based on 5G Power Skills requires a license agreement to use the components of the product. Use of the 5G Power Skills curriculum by continuing education requires a license agreement and certified facilitators. Cost is determined by use but has purposefully been kept affordable for access by our partners.
This is an ongoing solution. Already positive results have been seen with individuals completing the program who then transition into other certificate and degree programs at SFSC. The purpose is to build a readily employable workforce. That has begun due to this partnership.
Tina Gottus is the driver of this program at SFSC. She works together with the CSH and SFSC to make this program available to those entering the workforce.