by Troy Miller, Senior Researcher & Policy Analyst

Florida currently ranks 31st in the nation and last among the ten most populated states in terms of its population with bachelor’s degrees.  To help Florida meet the increasing need for more workers with a college degree, the Board of Governors set an ambitious goal in their 2012-2025 Strategic Plan to increase the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded by State University System institutions from 53,000 to 90,000 annually by the year 2025.

What will it take to increase degree production to 90,000?

An intentional, thoughtful and systematic approach, according to the Board of Governors Commission on Access and Attainment.  The commission went through a delicate process outlining several options over the course of a year that could be used to expand access, increase productivity, explore new technologies or add new degree programs.

After reviewing different short- and long-term options, the commission’s final report describes a framework for identifying  job openings  projected to be under-supplied by workers with a bachelor’s  The gap analysis concludes that computer occupations (2,361 annual under-supply), middle school teachers (1,024 annual under-supply) and financial occupations (971 annual under-supply) will be jobs Florida’s future economy will demand the most.

Annual Projected Under-Supply in Florida Occupations Requiring a Bachelor’s Degree


Projected Annual Under-Supply

Computer Occupations


Computer Network Architects


Computer Systems Analysts


Computer Programmers


Software Developers – Applications


Software Developers – Systems Software


Graphic Designers


Middle School Teachers


Accountants & Auditors & Financial Analysts


Training & Development Specialists


Operations Research Analysts


Kindergarten Teachers


Industrial Engineers


Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technologists


Insurance Underwriters


Credit Counselors


Public Relations Specialists


Source: Florida Board of Governors

Such workforce projections are far from an exact science.  To learn more about the intricacies involved with aligning workforce and education data, I recommend reading the group’s final report, appendix and overview of methodologies.

To expand access to the state’s greatest workforce needs as identified in the gap analysis, postsecondary institutions in Florida will be invited next month to apply for $15 million in grant funds to either support the expansion of or build one or more academic programs from the list.  To make best use of the state’s dollars, institutions through the grant process are encouraged to form partnerships, identify innovative curricular and delivery models and build on existing infrastructures of degree production instead of creating new ones.

In addition to building the state’s capacity for filling workforce gaps, the Commission also discussed broader implications for expanding bachelor’s degree production, such as advancing its standing among other states and moving beyond the status quo of being a “low-skilled” state.  Florida is projected to see its older population (age 60 and older) account for the majority of the state’s population growth, while seeing the proportion of prime-age workers (ages 25-54) diminish.  As the commission moves forward with meeting its objectives, it proposes the state might benefit from a broader discussion about the state’s long-term economic and educational goals and aspirations to transition into a labor force that will require many more skilled and knowledgeable workers in the future.

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