It’s basic: A better educated Miami-Dade workforce leads to economic growth | Opinion

In shaping the future workforce of 2040, education stands as the essential cornerstone for building a thriving society.

That’s why the Academic Leaders Council (ALC) within Opportunity Miami, a Miami-Dade Beacon Council initiative, set an ambitious goal: increase the number of adults with an associates degree or higher from 45.5% today to 65% by 2040 — a 20% jump over the next 16 years.

The ALC is composed of thought leaders in education from Miami’s six major colleges — Miami Dade College, Florida International University, University of Miami, Florida Memorial University, St. Thomas University, Barry University, plus the superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, co-chair of Opportunity Miami, emphasizes that this initiative is about narrowing income gaps, fostering social mobility and cultivating a workforce that attracts, retains and fosters the growth of innovative businesses within our community.

We know that education and talent development are the new economic development currency and they are among the most powerful tools to drive individual social mobility. And while Miami excels in many ways, we lag far behind the U.S. at 54.3% and Florida at 54.5% regarding this important metric.

We know in today’s knowledge-driven economy that the power of knowledge brings opportunity, and educational attainment directly correlates to income and prosperity.

According to Florida College Access Network, a person with an associate degree earns more than $70,000 annually in comparison to $35,400 for a high school diploma. The average salary for a person with a bachelor’s degree stands at nearly $90,000.

For Miami, talent development is a primary way to shrink the wide opportunity and income gap across our metropolitan area. An essential component in building talent is partnering with businesses to ensure that institutions of higher education produce the right credentials that align with workforce needs.

In Miami, more than half of our residents were born outside the U.S., and more than eight in 10 Miami-Dade residents today identify as Hispanic or Black. Greater Miami can build a workforce unlike any region in the hemisphere — it is one of our unique advantages businesses are already recognizing.

However, there are dramatic disparities by neighborhood and between racial and ethnic groups. For example, 65% of non-Hispanic white residents in Miami-Dade hold associate or higher degrees compared to 40% of Hispanic and 30% of Black residents.

A diverse and talented workforce drives innovation and helps attract greater business investment.

Miami is already an attractive place for business for myriad reasons. A broadly educated workforce with residents from diverse backgrounds like ours means we will be unstoppable in adapting to an evolving economy, better positioning us in the global marketplace.

It is important to continue to invest and grow our own talent. Miami-Dade has made significant strides in these areas. Through the Future Ready Scholarship, any Miami-Dade resident entering college for the first time can attain an associate’s degree tuition-free.’

The city of Miami Gardens launched the City University Partnership with St. Thomas University, Florida Memorial University and Miami Dade College, which builds awareness of educational opportunities and improves resident’s skills through upskilling. Miami-Dade Public Schools, meanwhile, has 11,000 students participating in dual enrollment programs with colleges and universities.

The imperative is not just to improve the overall number of residents getting college degrees, but to do so in every neighborhood across the community. Barriers must be removed. This includes tuition and fees, transportation, childcare and building awareness of an education’s value.

We’ve provided a roadmap in the 2040 Talent Goals Report at and you can explore our leaders’ perspectives more deeply in the ALC member-authored series, Essays on our Future.

We are actively working to build an economy that is sustainable, inclusive and competitive — and talent is a vital component in Greater Miami’s continued economic growth.

Our goal is bold and achieving it will require participation from every part of our community.

Madeline Pumariega is the president of Miami Dade College. Rodrick T. Miller is president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.

To read the original story, please click here.

To read the Spanish version, please click here.

To read the Creole version, please click here.