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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.

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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.

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Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Eight St. Petersburg College students were among 22 who took part in the inaugural Tampa Bay Technology Forum Exploratory Labs, an innovative training solution held March 23-27 that addressed the needs of companies in the Tampa Bay area.

The training took place at local companies Tech Data and Valpak and was designed as a business integration experience that compliments traditional classroom curriculum. The goal: to close the skills gap and increase interest in the technology industry among non-technology degree seeking students.

Training program developers included Pat Gehant, Director of Workforce Initiative at TBTF; Angie Beltz, Vice President for Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data; Dr. William Law, President of St. Petersburg College; the TBTF Workforce committee, then chaired by Chris Cate, CIO fro Valpak; and a team of educators from SPC and USF St. Petersburg. They worked together for 18 months to create a training solution that:

  • Engages business in the design and delivery of the curriculum
  • Integrates into the academic setting
  • Does not increase the cost or time to complete a degree
  • Provides a new way for companies to source entry level talent

The training consisted of 70 hours in the classroom and more than 40 hours of out-of-class team activities. The curriculum covered topics such as business planning, integrated marketing, emotional intelligence software licensing, Web, e-commerce, data centers, Agile project management methodologies, among others.

“Having an opportunity to solve a current technological challenge with the possibility of having our solution or parts of it utilized in the ‘real world’ is the best learning experience one could imagine,” said Christl Strachen, a student taking classes at SPC through the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program.

The students spent one day at Valpak learning how Agile methodologies are embraced and effectively deployed throughout a company – not just in Information Technology fields. The students are “chomping at the bit to get started,” said Robert Vigre, an SPC bachelor’s degree student in health administration.

The students graduated during a ceremony at Tech Data on April 14.

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Supply Chain Management Training

The orientation for the warehousing operations class at St. Petersburg College.

Responding to the demands of one of the fastest-growing industries nationwide, St. Petersburg College has launched the first two courses in its new LINCS Supply Chain Management training program.

The new six-week courses, Supply Chain Management Principles and Warehousing Operations, are the flagship classes of the non-credit program. The program will offer training in eight entry- to mid-level industry certifications to prepare workers to enter or advance in their supply chain careers.

Students will be able to earn industry certifications, endorsed by the national Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), which cover several key aspects of supply chain management:

  • demand planning and forecasting
  • customer service
  • purchasing
  • product assembly
  • inventory management
  • storage
  • transportation

Students also will have the opportunity to enhance their career readiness skills and engage with industry professionals through guest lectures, networking events and industry tours. Nineteen students are enrolled in the program, which launched March 17. Additional courses in Customer Service Operations and Transportation Operations are slated to begin in May.

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FBLA-in-Digi-for-Awards-Ceremony-1024x593Seminole Campus hosted more than 300 Pinellas County middle and high schools students who participated in the 2015 Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) District XII Competition on Friday, Jan. 30.

Students from 14 schools competed to showcase their skills as young business leaders on topics like entrepreneurship, digital media, computers and hospitality. This District Level Competition will send the top six of objective test events and the top two of performance events to the State Level Competition in Orlando this March.

FBLA is the largest and oldest student organization in the world, and provides its members with opportunities to network, travel and compete.

“The partnership between FBLA and SPC has developed over many years of participation in judging and as a result of their mutual support for education in the fields of business and entrepreneurship,” said Nicolle Panuthos, Academic Chair and Entrepreneurship Program Director for SPC’s College of Business. She has served as a judge in the Entrepreneurship and Global Business category for the last five years.

Other SPC faculty who served as judges this year include:

  • Delynda Keefe, Digital Design category
  • Shane Hamilton, Web Design and Desktop Application programming category

“We were able to showcase the college, our campus and provide information to a very sharp, engaged group of students, parents and teachers,” said James Olliver, Provost, SPC Seminole Campus.

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The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce is forming the new Tampa Bay Beaches Community and Business Institute in an effort to develop future government, business and civic leaders, the Beach Beacon reported.

The TBBC&BI is a six-month program leading to a certificate of completion and a one-year membership in the chamber. Candidates for the institute can include Eckerd College and SPC students, according to the article.

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SCORE is holding an entrepreneurs’ resource expo for veterans, their immediate family members and active military on Nov.10. The expo, where St. Petersburg College staff will also present educational seminars, is aimed at those who want to be self-employed or want to start or grow a business.

The expo is free to all veterans and their families.

Veteran and entrepreneur Mark Swanson will be the keynote speaker for the event that will be held at the event at the Hilton at Carillon starting at 10 a.m. Swanson also is a partner of the college’s Entrepreneurship Program.

SCORE is a national organization with 365 chapters around the country and more than 13,000 volunteers. The nonprofit association educates entrepreneurs and helps small businesses start, grow and succeed nationwide.

U.S. Small Business Administration survey data clearly indicates that about 40 to 60 percent of veterans think about being self-employed or starting a business. Most of them have no idea where to turn for guidance and assistance without cost to them nor do they know about the many ways to finance a business.

US Census data shows that, within Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota/Manatee, Pasco/Hernando and Polk counties, there are more than 420,000 veterans. Approximately 117,000 are ages 18 to 54 and are prime candidates who at least think of self-employment.

SCORE’s goal is to reach out to veterans and encourage them to learn about available programs and free mentoring that can help them start up and grow their businesses. The organization has about 150 to 200 mentors in the Greater Tampa Bay area.

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