MIAMI – Yesterday, business leaders from Florida’s clean energy and technology industry joined the Board of Governors to discuss future talent needs and how the State University System can address those needs. According to Enterprise Florida, more than 11,750 cleantech companies are based in Florida and specialize in various parts of the cleantech industry, including solar energy, bioplastics, and bioremediation. Florida boasts a myriad of competitive advantages for companies in the cleantech field, such as its strategic location and abundant natural resources. In 2019, the state ranked second for the highest number of solar jobs in the U.S. and ranked third in total clean energy employment.
The State University System’s degree productivity in clean energy and technology has grown in recent years. System-wide, the number of graduates with the potential to contribute in this arena has increased by 29% over the last five years, with a significant 40% growth at the undergraduate level.
“Cleantech is an exploding field, and it is vitally important that our universities keep up with the demand for these jobs,” said Syd Kitson, chair of the Board of Governors, which oversees the State University System of Florida. “I am gratified to see the increase in degrees in these fields, proving that our universities continue to meet workforce needs where they are.”
The Board was joined by
- Mr. Jose Mas, Chief Executive Officer at MasTec, Inc.
- Ms. Melissa Miller, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition, Learning & Digital Transformation at NextEra Energy
- Mr. Dylan Reeves, Chief Commercial and Product Officer at GE Renewables Digital Services.
Degree programs that feed into the clean energy and technology sector are offered at all twelve SUS institutions, including environmental science, biosystems engineering, sustainability studies, a plethora of other scientific and engineering programs, and more. The System produced over 16,000 graduates in 2019- 20 with the potential to gain employment in the clean energy and technology industry. This total included over 350 environmental science majors and nearly 4,000 civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering majors.
“Renewable energy is a growing industry across the country, with exciting opportunities in the digital, services and manufacturing spaces,” said Dylan Reeves, Chief Commercial and Product Officer at GE Renewables Digital Services. “Access to a skilled workforce is critical to help us deliver consistently for our customers, now and in the future.”
Florida public universities have been recognized by rankings organizations for excellence in clean energy and technology academic programs. For example, U.S. News & World Report recognized the University of Central Florida as being ranked #65 among public institutions for its environmental engineering program. UCF was also recognized for offering affordable engineering programs, both traditional and online. U.S. News recognized the University of South Florida as having a top 50 graduate program in industrial engineering and the #34 best online master’s program for engineering management.
“It’s our team that makes the difference. As a clean energy leader, NextEra Energy recognizes our people are our most important asset,” said Melissa Miller, Senior Director, Talent Acquisition, Learning & Digital Transformation at NextEra Energy. “We look to work with educational partners to ensure the development of our future workforce.”
Additionally, Florida universities have centers throughout the state that focus on the clean energy and technology field. For example, FIU operates the Energy, Power, and Sustainability Group, which conducts projects funded by entities such as the National Science Foundation and is a top destination for clean energy research, education, and workforce training. Additional centers include the Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center at FAU, the Center of Advanced Power Systems at FSU, the Florida Solar Energy Center at UCF, and the Clean Energy Research Center at USF. These types of centers provide research opportunities for faculty and students, as well as workforce training for students.
Facts about the State University System of Florida and the Board of Governors
The State University System of Florida is a constitutional body led by the 17-member Board of Governors. The System has 12 universities and more than 420,000 students, making it the second-largest public university system in the nation. Responsibilities include defining the distinctive mission of each institution and managing the System’s coordination and operation. The Board appoints a Chancellor who serves as the System’s chief executive. For more, visit flbog.edu or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.