Leon Works: A career fair for today’s generation of new talent | Opinion

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Imagine your Leon County Schools teenager having the opportunity to participate in a live presentation from an executive with a global manufacturer based in Europe and with offices in Tallahassee.

Next thing you know, your student is fascinated to learn from the presenter about manufacturing execution systems, Java Swing application development and SQL databases. Of course, you have no idea what any of that is, but it doesn’t matter. Your student is inspired to start down an academic career path toward this type of work and works with their school to tailor an academic curriculum to put them in the best position to achieve her new dream.

It happened. This week. Right here. At Leon Works.

It’s not your grandfather’s career fair – it is a real-time digital interfacing between business leaders and students, utilizing a state-of-the-art talent platform and connecting it all through a student/parent portal.

Put another way, it’s a perfect marriage between Leon Works – the brainchild of former Leon County Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley – and the Greater Tallahassee Chamber’s TalentHub, which aims to connect area employees, employers, teachers, students, and others in our great workforce ecosystem.

One advantage of the marriage of TalentHub and Leon Works is that it brings career segments into the field of vision of young people at an age where they can still chart an academic path to match their interest. Another is that these speakers run the gamut – from college-prep to blue collar careers. Here is a list of career industries that were represented in the middle and high school sessions:

  • Manufacturing
  • Construction/Trades
  • Creative
  • Business/Professional Services
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Healthcare
  • Technology

As you can see, almost every trade and profession was covered. But it must have been hard to recruit business leaders to participate, right?


Last week, 1,084 middle school students logged in to hear more than 85 speakers and just yesterday, more than 1,200 high school students also had the opportunity to hear and interact, proving that business and community leaders always find a way to give of their time and talent to make Tallahassee a better place.

Now, an important note – this program was for students AND their parents, who should be asking their young ones if they are using TalentHub in the classroom or if they have downloaded the TalentHub2030 app to their smartphone. While parents are at it, they should thank Leon County Schools for including TalentHub on the ClassLink student dashboard of every middle and high school student in the school system. This means these students can not only explore careers in general, but ones with local opportunities, tied to open jobs and then tied to the schools that offer the courses.

Students can build a resume, apply for jobs, etc. It’s all there in one place.

We’ve read recently in the Democrat about the talent gaps in key segments of our economy. Leon Works is an early step in creating our future workforce.

This Leon Works/Talent Hub collaboration, organized by the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce and the Office of Economic Vitality, is a great way to arm students (and their parents) with all the tools they need to fill those gaps when they graduate. Leon Works is one example of how the Tallahassee Chamber, along with collaboration from workforce and education partners are leading to bring innovative solutions to transition from learners to earners.

Terrie Ard is President/COO of Moore, Inc. and the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Talent, Workforce & Education Committee chair.