EDUCATION IN GROWTH FIELDS LEADS TO JOBS AND CAREER ADVANCEMENT
Real-world training provides competitive advantage for Indian River State College students
FORT PIERCE, FL -- Education in Florida’s growth fields has proved to be the key to getting a job or advancing in a career for many Indian River State College students. Despite lingering 12% unemployment throughout Florida, employees and job seekers equipped with up-to-date knowledge and skills find doors opening in the life sciences, health care, education, technology, and business management.
National statistics support the experiences of Florida residents. The unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma exceeds 14%, while only 5.2% of Bachelor’s Degree graduates fall into the unemployed category. As a greater percentage of jobs require sophisticated skills, education has become increasingly important as an indicator of earnings. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, Bachelor’s Degree graduates earned about 60% more per week than high school graduates.
“As we transition to the Research Coast, people who are prepared for the knowledge-based economy really have the competitive advantage,” said Dr. Edwin R. Massey, IRSC President. “IRSC develops real-world skills for emerging careers. This pro-active approach arms area residents with the skills they need for new types of jobs and provides a knowledgeable workforce for new and existing businesses.”
Biotechnology is targeted as one of the top ten growth industries by the U.S. Department of Labor. In South Florida, the establishment of life sciences companies has opened up job opportunities for the College’s chemistry and biology majors. The hands-on lab experience gained in chemistry classes helped Jason Fenwick land a job with Torrey Pines Institute of Molecular Studies. The twenty-four-year-old has worked as a Junior Research Technician at the nationally recognized research institute in Port St. Lucie for the past three years. He sets up chemical reactions to assist scientists developing new and better pharmaceuticals.
Research in Health Care Management led directly to a promotion for Sharon George. As the final “capstone” project for her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Care Management, George researched ways to improve patient understanding of medication side effects consistent with the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) guidelines. The knowledge George gained about the new health reform regulations was valued by her employer, St. Lucie Medical Center.
“They decided to promote me since I had the knowledge and was familiar with the hospital, rather than hiring from outside,” George said. The 47-year-old mother of two and Fort Pierce resident earned an Associate in Science Degree in Physical Therapist Assisting in 1998 and completed the IRSC Bachelor’s Degree program in Health Care Management in May, 2010.
IRSC offers over 20 health care programs with strong enrollment in certificate, Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree programs.The need for graduates reflects the national trend, with 4 million openings in health care jobs by 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
National, state and regional indicators list education as a strong career field with strong job prospects despite economic fluctuations. Makeda Brome is one of the College’s first students to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Brome made such an outstanding impression during her teaching internship at Lincoln Park Academy, she was offered a position teaching pre-calculus classes.
“IRSC is family! That feeling is what kept me at IRSC to earn my Bachelor’s after I earned by AA Degree. I really felt like I had someone looking out for me and caring about my future. Now, I’m teaching, which is my passion, with something new happening everyday!”
Many IRSC students are re-tooling their skills following a lay-off from an industry slow down.
After leaving an aviation company in South Carolina that was planning employee cutbacks, Stephen Voorhees landed a job with SpectorSoft, a cybersecurity company in Vero Beach. As a Sales Engineer, the 34-year-old Sebastian resident is based locally but interacts with customers nationally and internationally, presenting software and technical support to prospects seeking Internet monitoring and security services. The father-of-three is eager to expand his technical expertise and is enrolled in the IRSC Cyber Security Institute to develop skills in what has become the “hot” new field in information technology. Recent news stories focus on governmental agencies scrambling to combat leaks of classified information and corporations eager to defend their online systems against hackers.
“I’m close to completing the Cyber Security Institute which has helped me in a variety of ways on-the-job with online monitoring and security. I’m currently taking a UNIX/LINUX server technology course, and I plan to keep taking more technology courses to keep up.” Voorhees said.
Dennis Frances is another IRSC Bachelor’s Degree student who is connecting his studies to his career.
“What you learn in the Organizational Management program is related to the real-world,” Frances said. “The program is helping me develop management strategies and leadership skills so I’m prepared to move up.”
The Stuart resident left the construction industry and has been working as a Human Resources Coordinator at Admiral’s Cove, a private country club with over 400 employees, for the past four years.
The emerging fields emphasized by IRSC are consistent with eight industry clusters targeted by the Florida College System and Enterprise Florida: Information Technology, Emerging Technologies, Clean Energy, Life Sciences, Manufacturing, Ocean Science, Homeland Security/Defense and Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM.)
For more information about IRSC programs, visit www.irsc.edu or call toll-free 1-866-562-4772.