CareerSource North Central Florida Receives $350,000 in Funding to Expand Pilot Workforce Programs for Apprentices, Youth, and Re-Entry Populations

March 21, 2019 (Gainesville, Fla.) – CareerSource North Central Florida is pleased to announce that it has been awarded $350,000 in state pilot grants to launch or expand three pilot workforce programs for residents of Alachua and Bradford counties. The grants, established by CareerSource Florida and administered under a fund through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, will expand two apprenticeship initiatives and a joint workforce re-entry initiative between the Florida Department of Corrections and CareerSource North Central Florida.

“Since 2011, our Board and team of providers have consistently prioritized bringing resources to our region to transform the community’s biggest challenges into its biggest opportunities,” said CareerSource NCFL Board Chair Dawn Strickland. “With record low unemployment, we know our businesses are looking for talent wherever they can find it, making this Board’s work all the more important in its mission to grow business through a competitive workforce.”

CareerSource NCFL determined the best programs to expand based on their knowledge of the needs within the community. Each program answers a specific gap in the workforce.

The three programs are:

Maker Professional Apprenticeship: CareerSource NCFL will collaborate with Made Right Here, the Florida Tech Toy Box, and the Gainesville Chamber’s Advanced Manufacturing Council to match eligible out-of-school youth and young adults, ages 16-24, with Advanced Manufacturing employment opportunities in local manufacturing companies. The initiative attempts to address a shortage of qualified labor for advanced manufacturers while providing options for youth and young adults who want to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Stepping Stones: CareerSource NCFL will partner with the Florida Department of Corrections, Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council, Inc. (FCMEC), the Florida Masonry Apprenticeship & Education Foundation (FMAEF), and the Masonry Association of Florida (MAF) to establish the Stepping Stones program to expand the number of registered apprenticeships in the Building Trades/Construction industry in Florida.

Building Bridges: Integrating Re-entry Services into the Career Center: CareerSource NCFL will expand its current collaboration with the Florida Department of Corrections Probation Services Circuit 8, multiple reentry and community-based organizations, and the business community to enhance coordination of services and maximize job and training opportunities for citizens involved with the justice system in Alachua and Bradford counties.

These programs continue the work that CareerSource NCFL has been doing in the community to support local businesses and train workers. The programs will multiply benefits across the economy for Alachua and Bradford counties.

“Our youth and young adults in our community are one of the best resources we can invest in,” said Cindy Regen, Chair of CareerSource NCFL Career Centers & Operations Committee, Senior Manager of Payroll and Benefits at Exactech, and champion for the Maker Professional Apprenticeship proposal. “This pilot grant award enables our advanced manufacturing community to work with CareerSource North Central Florida to both achieve our talent goals while helping provide job opportunities to our future workforce.”

Jim Painter, CareerSource NCFL Board Member, Executive Director of the Florida Concrete & Masonry Education Council, and champion for the Stepping Stones and Building Bridges programs, shared, “I’m pleased our efforts are being recognized by the state by being funded as best practices to expand and serve our construction and masonry industries. I’m looking forward to implementing these programs, reducing the critical talent shortages for our businesses, and providing an opportunity to those looking for a second chance in the workforce.”

“I want to congratulate our Board of Directors, our leadership in Alachua and Bradford counties, and most importantly, our thriving business community for coming together to create a suite of competitive programs that will enhance our region’s economic competitiveness,” said CareerSource North Central Florida Executive Director Frank Avery. “I’m looking forward to helping our residents achieve economic prosperity, our businesses achieve their goals, and providing the State of Florida with best practices they can export and use to ensure Florida maintains its reputation as a global leader in workforce development.”

“This announcement demonstrates what many of us in this community already know – CareerSource North Central Florida’s innovative talent-development strategies are a magnet for investment in our region,” said Chamber President/CEO Eric Godet, Sr. “Our partnership with CareerSource North Central Florida is key to the Chamber’s successes in fostering economic opportunity, income equality, and jobs for Greater Gainesville citizens across the educational spectrum.”

The initiatives are expected to roll out later this year.