Greater Daytona Region Prepares Students for Future Careers
Volusia County schools and colleges offer students the pathway to success with top-notch training.
A cornerstone of the Greater Daytona Region’s economic success is its highly skilled workforce and steady pipeline of talent available to businesses.
Behind the region’s overflowing talent pool is Volusia County Schools (VCS), which prepares students for college and in-demand, local careers, and a network of higher education institutions that partners with businesses to provide students with industry-specific skills.
The Greater Daytona Region boasts seven higher education institutions, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, one of the world’s top aerospace and aviation educators, and Stetson University, which has been named one of the nation’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report.
The region’s workforce development efforts are bolstered by a roster of career and technical state colleges.
Daytona State College (DSC), for example, offers more than 100 certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree programs in areas such as engineering, education and nursing. Plus, DSC offers customized short-term training, conferences, seminars and technical assistance to businesses through its Center for Business and Industry, Small Business Development Center, School of Workforce Training and School of Adult Education.
“Professionals from across the region and state rely on DSC for its licensing and professional certifications in areas such as health care, business, law enforcement and public safety,â€ says Chris Thomes, DSC’s marketing director and public information officer.
DSC is able to quickly respond to the region’s workforce needs by expanding programs as necessary. In fact, the need to expand area business classes is leading the college to create its 12th bachelor’s degree program – a bachelor of science in accounting.
Another way DSC helps meet the region’s workforce needs is by partnering with VCS to introduce students at an early age to local, in-demand careers.
“Faculty and staff from broad segments across the college visit local middle and high school classrooms to show them how their interests and education can blend together for rewarding and challenging careers,â€ Thomes says. “College recruiters interact with students at college fairs and local community events, sharing the various pathways they can take to earn degrees that match their career interests. Students can also earn college credit for free through dual enrollment classes, giving them a tremendous head start as they begin the career-exploration process.”
VCS also gives students a head start through its robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, including 41 career academies focused on concentrated areas of study, such as law and government, engineering, communications, health services, or design and manufacturing. VCS also offers 37 industry- recognized credentials that align with 13 of the 17 career clusters recognized by the Florida Department of Education. Plus, two high schools within the system, DeLand and Spruce Creek, offer the International Baccalaureate program of study, a two-year curriculum that exposes students to other nations’ education systems while allowing them to earn college credit.
Ready for the Workforce
“In the high school classroom, students are learning necessary skills to transfer to their future careers. Hard and soft skills are practiced through work-based applications with community partners,â€ says Rachel Rutledge, CTE coordinator for Volusia County Schools.
Rutledge says students are introduced to CTE as early as middle school through exploratory classes.
“These courses help younger students make decisions on appropriate career paths. In high school, students have specialized classes that teach them to work collaboratively and find solutions to problems,â€ she says. “Students may have paths that lead immediately to work, postsecondary training or a degree.”
In 2019 alone, 710 VCS seniors graduated with at least one industry certification, and more than 100 earned their associate of arts or associate of science degrees before earning their high school diploma.
“Academies and CTE programs in the district are providing the knowledge and skills for students to make educated decisions about careers in our community,â€ she says.