This week’s question to the Miami Herald CEO Roundtable: What skills and/or courses would you like to see enhanced in local schools to better prepare students for jobs in South Florida?
We see a lot of bright students who have very robust technical skills but lack the social adaptability required in a corporate workplace. I believe we as organizational leaders need to get more involved early in a student’s career development to assist with their future transition and set a more reasonable expectation before entering the workforce.
Steven N. Adkins, president and CEO, Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
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I’d like to see more “soft skills” training. Teaching students how to build bond and rapport, how to communicate effectively, active listening, and how to resolve conflict when dealing with employees, vendors, customers and prospects would help better prepare them no matter what job or field they get into.
Ron Antevy, president and CEO, e-Builder
I am a big believer that our education system needs to reflect changing technologies. Students no longer need to memorize and regurgitate information — they now need to think critically. And, of course, we still need more resources in Florida invested in special education.
Maria Arizmendi, behavior analyst and president, Progressive Behavioral Science
Welcome to a New World. With unstable global markets, job insecurity, technological advancements such as A.I. and robotics, and new industries practically being invented within months, the current curriculum of our schools is not reflective of today’s environment. Our educational model needs to be re-imaged and quickly to prepare our children for the future.
Noah Breakstone, founder and managing partner, BTI Partners
In my opinion, more emphasis should be placed on teaching writing skills. Writing skills are among the most difficult to teach and among the most important for success in almost any white-collar job. So much of what is important in the professions and business is conveyed through written materials, whether emails, memoranda, or written reports, and the ability to convey information and ideas clearly in writing makes a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of an employee. Students at every level are all too infrequently exposed to writing courses, or even courses that involve substantial writing. Increasingly, reports and written examinations are being replaced by check-the-box examinations, which are easier to grade. Teaching effective writing skills is time consuming and difficult. Substantially more time and resources should be dedicated to this extremely important skill set.
Bowman Brown, partner and chairman of the Executive Committee and the Financial Services Practice Group of Shutts & Bowen
It would be great if local schools offered a business professionalism course where students are able to learn how to behave in the job market. Students should learn how to write business letters and the importance of customer service. The course should also teach students how to write a proper résumé.
Patricia Elizee, managing partner, Elizee Law Firm
Tech, tech, tech. The pace of change is slower today than it will ever be again. Our future workforce must be prepared to compete in this fast-changing landscape. We need to encourage students to expand their horizons — not bind themselves or allow others to bind them to traditional workplace stereotypes. There’s also no substitute for practical experience outside the classroom, and programs like those involving public service are often the best way to gain experience and maturity.
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Communication skills, both written and oral, and critical thinking through experiential learning would better prepare students for jobs in our community. In my opinion, emojis and 142-character tweets limit the communication skills of some upcoming workers. We work in an industry that cares for people, therefore, how we communicate is vital to our success. Learning in an environment that combines communication and critical thinking allows us to plan for the long-term.
Jeffrey Freimark, president and CEO, Miami Jewish Health
Miami-Dade schools are on the cutting edge of innovation and preparing students to be part of a global workforce. We need to continue to teach skills such as financial literacy and coding, and create graduates who have the skills and flexibility to handle a rapidly changing work environment.
James Haj, president and CEO, The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade County
Every year, I notice that some of the students in my classroom are lacking public speaking and writing skills. Along with learning soft skills, such as business conversational proficiency, and etiquette, students will have a leg up on their peers if they can hone these skills early on. Too many students graduate high school without the proficiency to balance a checkbook, hold a conversation with an adult, or understand the basics of business. Our schools are trying, and there are nonprofit organizations that do an extraordinary job imparting those skills on as many students as they can, but we should be doing more at school, and at home, to better prepare our future leaders.
George Hanbury, president and CEO, Nova Southeastern University
I would like to see a stronger emphasis on teaching the ability to listen, which will help people entering the workforce to understand, evaluate and remember what is expected of them and to respond accordingly. It’s also useful for students to learn to write well-crafted, thoughtful and insightful sentences, paragraphs and reports. Courses that I believe will hold important value in the lives of students are American and world history, because by understanding the past, we can better understand the present. In addition, students should learn personal and business finance, mathematics, and, last but not least, American and British literature. It exposes students to the belief system, philosophies and perceptions of our society and opens the door to developing tolerance to the differences in others.
Bob Hohenstein, president and CEO, Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition
It would be great to see more implementation of experiential STEM courses as well as leadership training. These courses have the power to inspire people and incite conversation outside of classrooms. Schools should also expose students to a variety of industries and job types, and prepare students for the interview process doing mock interviews and advising on dress code.
Arden Karson, senior managing director, CBRE
With the growth of interdependency on cellphones and social media by young individuals, we truly feel that is hindering social skills that are needed to succeed in any career and/or business opportunity. We need to teach our future generations the ability to network with other individuals, in order to seek opportunities and exchange knowledge and information with ease. They have to be given multiple opportunities outside of the school in individual and group settings to develop their ability to communicate with larger groups of people. We need to push them out of their comfort zone within the invisible walls our cell phones and social media sites provide.
Juan Carlos Marchan, COO, Centurion Restaurant Group
Superintendent Carvalho and his team have done an incredible job in recent years, but we can always improve in the way we teach our kids. I think the STEAM curriculum — Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics — is a well-balanced educational approach to learning that has been adopted by many of our magnet schools and prepares students for the real world.
David Martin, president and co-founder, Terra
Vocational skills and instruction about local government are two areas where more coursework would make sense. South Florida is facing a serious skills gap, and we need more graduates who are equipped with training in things like construction, engineering and basic computer science. I also think our students could benefit from an understanding of how our government works at the municipal level, because that’s where policies that affect everyday life originate.
Aabad Melwani, president, Rickenbacker Marina and managing principal, Marina PARC
As a part of the national code.org initiative, our local school district is doing a great job exposing students to high demand careers in computer science. Broward College is also committed to building that awareness for our current and future students via our coding camps and Hackathon events. As a member of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, we are intimately involved in using the results of a recent skills gap study which has led to increased collaboration with K-20 schools and industry to address workforce needs and facilitate internship and industry certification opportunities in the aviation and IT fields.
Avis Proctor, vice president of academic affairs and president, North Campus at Broward College
I’d like to see more apprenticeship programs, like they have in Europe. College has its place, but there’s a lot to be said for giving students an opportunity to explore and expand their horizons in a real life workplace situation. A formal apprenticeship stage in the education process, or simply a “gap year” between high school and college during which students can mature a bit and figure out what they want to do, would provide real guidance and valuable job and life skills.
Matthew Rieger, president and CEO, Housing Trust Group
I’d love to see schools emphasize verbal and written communication more — and not just in English. Knowledge of more than one language and culture and effective public speaking are imperative when communicating thoughts, opinions and ideas with others.
Ivannia Van Arman, executive director, Lincoln Road Business Improvement District
The Miami Herald CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included: