Drawing on state data on what jobs are out there and what they pay, and what college and career school programs cost, the Florida Chamber Foundation is launching a new website aimed at helping people understand where the money is and what it will cost.

“I have to say to you this is just a piece of gold,” Rebecca Schumacher executive director of the Florida School Counselor Association said at a press conference held Thursday morning in Orlando.

The “Launch My Career Florida” project weaves data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Education and the U.S. Census Bureau to create an interactive website that allows students, parents, counselors, businesses and adults seeking new career opportunities to explore.

By filling in interests and clicking options, the user is presented with information about what a particular job field likely will pay, how much the education will cost, how much time it will take to get the education, and what the ultimate return-on-investment will be. The options range from trades, such as a motorcycle maintenance certificate from Seminole State Community College, to degrees in finance from the University of Florida.

Costs of living are factored in too, as are degrees of job satisfaction, provided via data from Gallup Inc. polls.

It also has a “skills added” feature, that allows people to determine what additional skills they may wish to pursue in addition to a particular degree, to make themselves more valuable in the jobs market.

The project is a joint venture of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Florida Division of Economic Opportunity and Strada Education Network, which underwrote the project in Florida and other states with a $2 million grant. The Florida project, the fifth, was announced Thursday at the Florida Chamber of Commerce 2017 Future of Florida Forum at the J.W. Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes resort.

“Launch My Career, as a consumer information website, brings an incredibly powerful information into the hands of students,” said Jaimie Francis of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “We’ve seen this site work very well for students.”

She gave an example from Colorado, where a young woman who used the Colorado version recently. She was interested in a career in drama and the performing arts. “She raised her hand after playing around on this site for a couple of minutes, and said, ‘What does it mean when my return on investment is a negative number?'” Francis recounted.

When it was explained to her that a job in that field would pay less than a high school graduate might earn, the young woman decided to make drama a minor or double major, along with a business degree, Francis said.

“We think it isn’t up to us to determine their career path,” Francis said. “But we feel students do have the right to have this incredible important information about what are the hot jobs in the state of Florida, what are the hot skills for them to land in those jobs, and what are the programs in the state that are going to help them find that career pathway.”

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