JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The future of jobs in Jacksonville may be filled by students sitting in a computer science class at the University of North Florida. It's part of a new push by UNF's College of Computing, Engineering and Construction to meet the needs of businesses who are looking for people to fill more information technology jobs than there are people qualified to take them.
Forbes Magazine ranked Jacksonville as the second-ranked city in the nation for technology jobs.
"A lot of companies that are considering to come here are looking for where the IT workforce will come from, companies that are here and want to grow need more it workforce," said Dr. Mark Tumeo, the dean of the college.
Tumeo works with companies in Jacksonville to start a pipeline from UNF to internships and eventually jobs. An advisory board helps faculty determine what skills they need to hire students right out of college and the curriculum is tailored to that end.
"Our students usually have more than one job opportunity when they graduate," he added. "We cannot produce graduates fast enough for the demand in each region."
Director of Computing Dr. Asai Asaithambi is going into schools, talking to children very early to get them interested in technology.
"Middle school is not too early," said Asaithambi. "It's too late by the time they get to high school. They already have preconceived notions about what they can or cannot do."
In his native India, women dominate the technology field. But in Jacksonville he wants to get more women and African-Americans interested in the industry. In one class Action News visited at UNF there were just two female students.
Program leaders say their graduate enrollment has increased 15 percent this year.