How Miami Dade College is preparing its students for the future job market
Eduardo Padron President – Miami Dade College
How are programs at Miami Dade College helping to create a skilled workforce?
In 2016, we introduced a number of very important programs – some of them were a first not just for Miami, but also for Florida. They are designed to meet the needs of local businesses and industries and provide a trained workforce that is able to help with the economic development of the area. This will mean well paid jobs, which will improve and diversify the economy. This includes areas intended to embrace important aspects of Miami’s economy, such as animation, game development and big data. We are also doing a lot to transform the way we approach achieving student success. We want to make sure that all our students have the necessary tools to be able to excel in college. We’re an institution that is a microcosm of Miami, and as such, our student body is representative of this city, especially in terms of diversity. We have students from more than 180 different countries who speak over 90 different languages. Miami Dade College (MDC) is an institution that opens doors to everyone and, therefore, we must communicate effectively with all segments of our population.
What are the main challenges of offering affordable higher education?
The key is making sure those that fund us – meaning the State of Florida – are able to look at education as a vital investment, not an unnecessary expense. Unfortunately, nowadays too many decisions are made strictly in terms of cost analysis. The most important investment we can make in people is to give them the tools they need to help themselves. We are not getting enough support to be able to do the job, to provide a quality education program, to hire the best possible faculty or to introduce the modern technology that we need. This community needs to remind our legislators of this underlying principle of democracy: the institutions such as MDC need to be supported because the create the necessary informed, engaged and skilled workforce crucial to our nation’s success. Business leaders have a special role to play in this effort. What we need to keep in mind is that the world of work today is very different from 20 years ago. The skills that are necessary have changed significantly. When you talk to employers you find that their requirements are much higher than they used to be. They are not only looking for technical competency, but also strong soft skills, the ability to work in teams, be problem solvers, have critical as well as analytical skills and the ability to work collaboratively with other employees. Employers are looking for diversity and people who can be helpful in innovation.