Tallahassee mayor and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum (D) met with students on campus and discussed issues including student loans, college affordability and four-year degree alternatives on Wednesday.
“First and foremost the loan business, largely in the private sector, will require congress to engage and start to crack down on some of the predatory lending practices that exist,” Gillum said.
He also said while his campaign has not yet introduced its plan for college affordability, they do have one in the works.
“We have not completely rolled out our plan on this, but one of the ideas that you are going to be hearing from us is going to be our commitment to students who are willing to go in critical need hiring areas in the state and make college free for them,” Gillum said.
Gillum said these critical-need hiring areas include teachers, nurses and forestry, as all are currently experiencing shortages of new hires.
“For those high need areas where we should be growing the kind of talent and potential that we need in Florida, we are going to make it accessible and affordable and free for those who are willing to go into those critical need areas,” Gillum said.
Gillum also said businesses should support employees morally and financially in achieving their higher education goals. He said this will help stimulate the state’s job market.
“While we have a governor that calls himself the jobs governor, almost forty-six percent of the folks in this state say that they do not make enough at their job to make ends meet at the end of the month,” Gillum said.
Gillum said his vision for postgraduate Floridians is for them to remain local in their careers. He hopes to see Florida communities booming with new business opportunities and ventures that can adequately compensate employees in salary and work opportunities.
“I believe that we can do that here in Florida, but it takes a governor who is committed to try and create the kind of economy that will work for everybody,” Gillum said.
Gillum also said a four-year education program should not be the only option for students in Florida.
“I think it is absolutely critical that we get back into investing in vocational, technical, skill building, certificate programs and training,” Gillum said.
Gillum said the nature of jobs is changing. He said fortune five hundred companies are not necessarily citing that they are in need of employees with a bachelor degree. They are more so focused on potential employees with specialized training.
Though Gillum said four-year degrees are still a beneficial aspect of our society, “you do not need to be on a college bound track to get access to skill building, that you could then monetize and get a good job.”
Gillum said the idea of vocational programs is not a new idea, but rather one that needs to be reintroduced into Florida’s educational program.
“I think that we have to make everybody body in our society is useful and purposeful, and part of that is making sure that they get access to the kind of training that they need,” Gillum said.