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As baby boomers, the largest American generation to date, begin retiring, they are leaving looming gaps in the workforce. The departures have drawn media attention to the growing number of openings in the Tampa Bay area for public servants, specifically in public safety, policy and utilities.

In the City of St. Petersburg, for instance, nearly a quarter of the police force is currently eligible to retire. And when veteran officers leave, they take institutional knowledge with them.

St. Petersburg College is working closely with cities, counties, municipalities and companies to train and expose its students to the diversity of jobs available in the public utilities, public safety and public policy sectors.

SPC Career Exploration Event

public sector jobsRecently, more than 100 people attended SPC’s Public Utilities Career Exploration event at the Seminole Campus, where they learned about current and future career openings, training requirements, salaries and scholarship opportunities.

The annual career exploration event began a few years ago with a focus on job opportunities for students in SPC’s A.S. degree program in environmental science, but has expanded to include public policy students. The college eventually plans to hold the event twice a year and include students in information technology.

“The event illustrates a strong partnership between educators and local industries to inform students and the public of career opportunities in our region,” said Jason Krupp, director of Workforce Services for SPC. “It is very rewarding to help connect students with real opportunities in a sector they may not have considered otherwise.”

Job openings in public utilities

One of the most diverse departments in any municipality, public utilities positions range from mechanics and equipment operators to lab techs, biologists and chemists to accountants, marketers and attorneys. In St. Petersburg, Water Resources is the city’s largest operation and provides potable water distribution, wastewater (sewage) collection, treatment and disposal, and reclaimed water for irrigation purposes to city residents.

“Because water is a limited natural resource with increasing demand and regulation, there is a strong future need for skilled workers in public utilities,” Krupp said.

City of Seminole to hire SPC public policy students

Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds recognized this need and recently announced an agreement with SPC to hire one SPC public policy student or graduate each year for the next 10 years. This agreement is a testament of the high-quality instruction and career preparation provided by SPC faculty and staff.

The trainee will work their way through four departments: administration, public safety, community development and public works, to receive exposure to and specialized experience in the various areas of city government.

Public safety training

Over at SPC’s Allstate Center, students can enter a training academy to become a police or corrections officer or firefighter, move up in their career by earning an academic degree or take mandatory and specialized training available for emergency and first responders, military personnel, public safety, emergency management and judicial professionals and even the general public.

WE-504

Beginning this fall, SPC will offer “Weekend College” on the Clearwater Campus. The program provides students the chance to earn an Associate in Arts or Associate in Science in Business Administration degree by taking classes entirely on the weekends.

The program can help those whose work or family responsibilities keep them too busy to attend classes during the week.

Info sessions for the new Weekend College program will be held from 10 to 11:30 on May 30 and July 11, on the Clearwater Campus, Room ES 104.

davie-gill-ad-259x300Student Life and Leadership Coordinator Davie Gill has been named Athletic Director, taking over for Mark Strickland, who was recently named interim provost at the Seminole Campus. As it was with Strickland, the position is in addition to other administrative duties.

Gill began his career at SPC in 2000 as a student services officer at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. He was named coordinator of what was then called Student Activities (now known as Student Life and Leadership) at the campus in 2008.

Strickland served as athletic director for eight years.

 

R. Gil Kerlikowske

R. Gil Kerlikowske, United States Customs and Border Protection Commissioner

United States Customs and Border Protection Commissioner and St. Petersburg College alumnus R. Gil Kerlikowske was the featured speaker at St. Petersburg College’s Public Policy Leadership Speakers Series luncheon on May 21.

About 125 people attended the event, including local law enforcement and politicians, SPC administrators, faculty and staff. The 64 bachelor’s degree students in SPC’s Public Policy Administration program were the focus of the event, asking the commissioner questions about drug policy, human trafficking, border security and more.

Kerlikowske reflected on his four decades of law enforcement and drug policy experience, including teaching as an adjunct professor in Florida, New York and Seattle.

“That ability to give something back and spend time with students is just so critical,” he said. “I think that there was nothing more helpful in my career than to be able to serve as an adjunct and to be able to interact with students — to have that kind of discussion and dialogue. It really keeps you fresh.”

He gave a brief history of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency that was created in 2003 as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks. The new agency combined the efforts of agricultural inspectors; U.S. Border Patrol and Customs; and Immigration and Naturalization Services.

The goal was to have one face at the border. The challenge, he said, was to respond to the wide range of responsibilities — from managing counterfeit honey from China to the rise of Syrian foreign fighters in the U.S.

“The issues in front of Customs and Border Protection is like being in a tennis match – going back and forth from one issue to another on this wide array of responsibilities,” he said.

During his time working as Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Kerlikowske said he learned that effective drug policy includes enforcement, quality prevention and treatment.

“I wish as a police chief I had the knowledge of drug treatment holistically from a public health perspective that I did when I took over at ONDCP,” he said. “We actually began to change the debate from ‘this is purely a criminal justice problem to this is a health problem.'”

An SPC Public Policy student Nicolas Louis interacting with Commissioner Kerlikowske.

An SPC Public Policy student Nicolas Louis interacting with Commissioner Kerlikowske.

Kerlikowske’s advice to the students was clear:

“For you that are students … the mentorships you have is everything,” he said. “You can be the smartest student in the world. You could do the best whitepaper on the subject. You could do the best PowerPoint, etc. But your ability to work with others and cooperate to figure out how to compromise — to figure out how to work as a team in order to accomplish a mission is the benefit that truly you will get here.”

Kerlikowske’s path to the White House

Kerlikowske earned his associate in arts degree from St. Petersburg Junior College while working for the St. Petersburg Police Department as a street cop. He eventually became head of SPPD’s criminal investigation division while earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from the University of South Florida.

He later graduated from the National Executive Institute at the Federal Bureau of Investigation Academy in Quantico, Va., and went on to serve as police chief of four cities, and as a member of the United States Justice Department.

In his current role as commissioner, Kerlikowski runs the largest federal law enforcement agency with more than 60,000 employees and a budget of $12.4 billion. Before accepting the commissioner position in March 2014, he had served as Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy since 2009.

Public Policy Leadership Speaker Series

The Public Policy Leadership Speaker Series luncheons, organized by SPC Professor Jeff Kronschnabl, gives students the opportunity to engage with highly acclaimed professionals from local, state and federal government in an intimate setting. Previous speakers have included:

  1. Kurt S. Browning, former Florida Secretary of State (March 21, 2012)
    Discussed the value of a higher education and the duties of the Secretary of State.
  2. Major General Karl M. Horst, Chief of Staff-U.S. Central Command ( 27, 2012)
    Discussed his experiences in leadership from his 39 year military career and also discuss his leadership and how it pertains to the USCENTCOM area of Responsibility.
  3. Charlie Crist, former Florida Governor (March 19, 2013)
    Discussed policy leadership while serving Florida as an elected official for over 15 years.
  4. Judge Nelly Khouzam and Judge Morris Silberman, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal (Oct. 16, 2013)
    This husband and wife duo discussed “A Nation of Laws: What is the role and responsibility of appellate courts as relates to the rule of Law?”
  5. Bob Lasala, County Administrator for Pinellas County, and Bill Horne, City Manager of Clearwater (April 2, 2014)
    Discussed collaborative leadership within local governments.
  6. Jack Latvala, Florida State Senator, and Ed Hooper, Florida State Representative (Oct. 29, 2014)
    Discussed collaborative leadership within the Florida Legislature.
  7. James Olliver, Seminole Campus Provost, and Frank Edmunds, Seminole City Manager (March 25, 2015)
    Discussed their distinguished public service careers and collaboration between the SPC Seminole campus and the City of Seminole.

 

Frank Edmunds, Seminole City Manager; Leslie Waters, Seminole Mayor; James Olliver, SPC Seminole Campus Provost.

Frank Edmunds, Seminole City Manager; Leslie Waters, Seminole Mayor; James Olliver, SPC Seminole Campus Provost.

The City of Seminole and St. Petersburg College signed an agreement today that will place one SPC public policy student or graduate in a one-year paid position with the city each year starting Aug. 1. Each year for 10 years a new student/graduate will be selected for a position with the city.

Recently passed by the Seminole City Council, the new Frank Edmunds Public Service Associate in Training program is named after 20-year Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds who is retiring in August.

City-of-Seminole

“This is the continuation of a long history of partnership between the City and the College,” said James Olliver, SPC Seminole Campus Provost. “I think it shows that the two of us, together with the Chamber of Commerce and the various civic and social organizations in Seminole, are so much greater than the sum of the parts in service to our community. We challenge other municipalities throughout Pinellas County (and beyond!) to follow this model and help themselves and the college by providing a robust work experience to one of our outstanding graduates.”

The trainee will be assigned by the city manager and will rotate through four departments: administration, public safety, community development and public works, to receive exposure to and specialized expertise in the various areas of city government.

To qualify, the student must be either in their final term in the Public Policy and Administration bachelor’s degree program or a recent graduate (within one year of selection). They must also have been recognized for having achieved public service distinction during their tenure as a student.

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler, SPC College of Business students won first place in the Best Strategy Invitational last week.

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler, two St. Petersburg College Business students, won first place in the final leg of The Business Strategy Game, an international competition where students create a company and compete with other colleges and universities in a simulated global marketplace.

Part of the students’ final capstone project at SPC, the online assignment/competition teaches students the business and leadership skills of running a multimillion dollar company, as they work to sell branded and private label athletic footwear.

Two other SPC teams came in second and sixth in the competition. To qualify for the invitational, the three SPC teams had to place first in a first-round simulation. In the final round, 216 teams from around the world competed in 18 different industries.

To win the first place spot, Yore and Calle-Schuler competed against students from California State, University of Texas and other large universities.

“Our capstone projects are another way we are preparing our students for the real world,” said SPC President Bill Law. “The fact that they are competing on an international level against thousands of university students and winning is a testament to both the students and the faculty!”

To date, SPC has had 32 winning teams that went on to compete in the international invitation with the following results:

  • 1st place – seven teams
  • 2nd place – eight teams
  • 3rd place – three teams
Business-Strategy-Game

Pictured above from left after a recent College of Business Capstone presentation are Robin Wilber, SPC professor; Susanne Whitfield, International Business student; Tom Philippe, SPC professor; Victoria Yore, Business Administration student; Nicole Calle-Schuler, International Business student; Wendy Huehn-Brown and Amy Sauers, SPC professors. Yore and Calle-Schuler went on to place first in the international invitational.

“I think it’s just amazing that 18 out of 32 teams from SPC have placed in the top three in a world business competition,” said Robin Wilber. “I am so proud of our students.”

SPC students’ success earned Wilber and SPC Professor Tom Philippe the designation of Master Professors in the Business Strategy Game Hall of Fame in 2011.

Learn more about:

Brent Weil, Senior Vice President for Education & Workforce at The Manufacturing Institute; Nancy Stephens, MAF Center for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence; and Dr. Gary Graham, Statewide Director for Florida TRADE.

Brent Weil, Senior Vice President for Education & Workforce at The Manufacturing Institute; Nancy Stephens, MAF Center for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence; and Dr. Gary Graham, Statewide Director for Florida TRADE.

The Florida TRADE Consortium and the Manufacturing Association of Florida (MAF) Center for Excellence have joined to promote opportunities for women in manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Experience: A Woman’s Perspective will be held on June 4, at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes. Key female executives and leaders in manufacturing in Florida will take part in a talk-show style discussion moderated by Florida State Rep. Kathleen Peters.

“Women are a dominant force in the U.S. labor market, but not in manufacturing,” said Nancy Stephens, MAF Center for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence. “As manufacturers do more and more business globally, the industry will continue to grow in Florida and the U.S. This presents a tremendous opportunity for women to engage in this vibrant industry with exceptional career opportunities.”

Part of the “Drive to 1,000,” a Florida TRADE Consortium initiative to place 1,000 Florida TRADE students into manufacturing jobs over the next year, the event is part of the Florida TRADE STEM Manufacturing Forum at the Florida Sterling Council Annual Conference.

The Florida TRADE Consortium, a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) grantee, provides accelerated technical training that provides students with the skills needed to compete for jobs in advanced manufacturing.

“There are many open job opportunities in manufacturing and we hope to make women aware of these opportunities,” said Dr. Gary Graham, Director of Florida TRADE. “We also plan to tape this event and make it available to students, guidance counselors and women across Florida.”

For more information about the Florida TRADE Consortium, visit www.fltrade.org. For information about the MAF Center for Advanced Manufacturing Excellence or the Florida TRADE STEM Manufacturing Forum, please visit www.mafcenter.org or www.floridasterling.com/conferences/stemforum.

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