Keeping the best and the brightest scholars in the Tampa Bay area after college graduation is a goal business leaders have discussed over the years without a cohesive strategy.
But that may be changing with the introduction today of an innovative plan by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce that unites local businesses and educational institutions in fashioning an internship program aimed at training students for careers in Tampa. Called the “Education Connection,” it has the potential to help businesses land interns who can hit the ground running and possibly stick around for full-time work rather than leave the state.
With few Fortune 500 companies, the Tampa Bay area is often an afterthought for graduates.
Doug Pace, executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer for the Web design and tech consulting company Bayshore Solutions, is the chamber member behind Education Connection. He says graduates seldom look beyond the Fortune 500 companies when planning careers.
“Most people don’t know the opportunities with small businesses,” he says. Education Connection has formed partnerships with the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa, St. Leo University, Hillsborough Community College, Stetson College of Law and Hilllsborough County’s public schools. The partnership involves professors and business owners talking about a curriculum that meets the real-world needs of today’s businesses, and academic experts being available as a resource to small businesses.
The goal is to introduce students to companies in the area that can provide the career they are seeking, while at the same time providing a trained intern to small businesses that might hire them down the road. The program also fosters partnerships among the universities and businesses that can inspire research and innovation.
Interested parties can visit tampachamber .com/educationconnection for details.
The chamber and its education partners merit credit for this thoughtful approach to strengthening the local economy.