Gaetz: Panhandle ‘pathway of growth’

Published: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 11:04 AM.

Having students who are job ready upon graduation is also essential for future growth, not only in Northwest Florida, but throughout the state. Student education is key to attracting employers, especially employers on the scale of a Nissan, BMW or Toyota plant, such as Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina have landed in recent years.

Florida has been in competition for such facilities, and plans are underway for a megasite — an industrial site dedicated for use by a big employer such as an auto plant — to be located in Jackson County.

“My son, Matt, went on his own to one of these companies and asked why they chose South Carolina over Florida,” Gaetz said, referring to State Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton. “They were told by South Carolina that whatever community they located in, the state guaranteed that when the local graduates would walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, they would be qualified to go to work at that plant with no further training.”

Gaetz said colleges and universities should also start incorporating industry certifications into their training courses for students.

“We want our students to graduate with a degree or a diploma that gives them some real career currency,” Gaetz said.

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