Local Organizations Offer Innovative Training Programs for Alternative Workforces

Doreen Lund

One of the unfortunate side effects of the events of the past two years has been the worsening employee gap in Florida’s workforce. Many businesses in the First Coast Region and across the country are struggling to find trained employees to fill vital positions.

Fortunately, there are a number of organizations that are working to make a difference. From traditional and non-traditional apprenticeships to training for disabled youth to programs to help entrepreneurs reach their goals, here are some ways that local organizations are tapping and training alternative workforces to help breathe new life into the struggling labor market.

Apprenticeships for a Range of Industries

Businesses looking to expand their workforce can take advantage of CareerSource Northeast Florida’s Registered Apprenticeship Program. 

Career Source Northeast Florida training

In recent years, the State of Florida expanded its Registered Apprenticeship Programs to include a wide range of industries, including healthcare, landscaping, hospitality, manufacturing, cyber security, skilled trades, logistics and even childcare.

Career Source Northeast Florida training

“Not only do apprenticeships allow job seekers to move into new careers without incurring extensive college debt, but they also help develop a skilled labor force in our region that enables our economy to continue to grow,” says Doreen Lund, apprenticeship navigator for CareerSource Northeast Florida, a Jacksonville based organization that serves the First Coast Region and beyond. 

Apprenticeships include a minimum of one year of on-the-job training with a mentor, several hours of related instruction and the completion of a national certification.

Career Source Northeast Florida training

Florida has offered large grants to expand state programs for the last few years, and in 2022, it plans to offer $15 million in grants for new and expanding apprenticeship programs.  

“We are experiencing a talent shortage, and one way to brand your organization as one that values its employees is to develop an apprenticeship program,” says Lund.

To get started, businesses can reach out to Doreen Lund at
DLund@CareerSourceNEFL.com or on careersourcenortheastflorida.com/apprenticeship-programs. 

Training Youth with Disabilities for Florida’s Workforce

Another example of how training alternative workforces can help the businesses in our region is the Transition Youth Program sponsored by the nonprofit employment service for people with disabilities, EmployU. The organization, headquartered in Casselberry, serves 50 counties across the state, including those in the First Coast Region.

The Transition Youth Program aids students aged 14-21 who either have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. These students range from those with specific learning disabilities to those with autism or an intellectual disability.

The program places them in jobs with companies in their local communities in industries such as construction, hospitality, healthcare, industry and more. 

Lindy Madden-Sinka

“The businesses actually benefit as well because they are helping to create that future workforce. They also have access to additional hands onsite to help them, especially now when everyone is in such dire straits in terms of finding staff,” says Transitions Program Director Lindy Madden-Sinka.

The Transition Youth program also provides work training, self-advocacy, and career exploration classes. They even provide industry-specific programs for in-demand Florida jobs.

“Individuals with disabilities are amazing workers,” says Madden-Sinka. “They’re motivated. They want to work, and they want to participate. They have less incidence of absenteeism and tardiness, and they actually tend to stay employed with the same company for longer periods.” 

Students in the programs tend to stay for three to five years and many transition to college or full-time careers. Businesses can participate at no cost or obligation by contacting the organization at employu.com.

Building Tomorrow’s Businesses

PS27 Ventures is an early-stage venture capital fund dedicated to helping innovative entrepreneurs in Florida scale their businesses through coaching and training. The Jacksonville-based firm invests in companies from all over the state in five verticals: software as a service, e-commerce, health tech, financial tech and sustainability.

Christine Caven

“When we invest in a business, we become part of their extended team,” says Christine Caven, director of communications for P27. The fund has a team of experts who provide round-the-clock support to ensure their success. 

This can include anything from coaching on how to handle a new client, budget guidance or even preparation for an interview on TV. “We get them prepared for whatever challenges come their way or whatever opportunities they have to grow their business,” says Caven.

This one-on-one approach led the fund to expand its training programs.

“One of the things we’ve learned that was that the founders [who] would come through our programs had some gaps in their leadership skills. So, we started hosting small programs in our office, and we eventually decided to form a foundation around it,” says Caven.

The firm’s marquee event is Leadership Week, a four-day program with the goal of transitioning founders into CEOs. This program selects diverse, multicultural and international teams from a broad variety of industries to participate in leadership training in ethics, communication and high-performance team building. It even offers a mock “Shark Tank” event with a $10,000 award to the winner.

The firm also offers a Black Entrepreneurs Forum and a Female Founders Forum to encourage traditionally underrepresented business owners to build their leadership skills and network. 

Businesses in the First Coast Region are encouraged to visit ps27ventures.com to learn more and apply.