The Great Collaborator on Workforce Development

Guest Correspondence

Sarasota County just received a presentation of the 2018 Citizen’s Survey. Survey participants were asked what they thought could be the single biggest contributor to the county’s economic growth. The top answer was “Workforce Training or Re-Training”. 

Luckily, we have a wonderful resource here in Sarasota County that was started by Gulf Coast Community Foundation and is now appropriately housed with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. 

CareerEdge has been an innovator in labor training and meeting the workforce needs of the private sector since 2010. Having trained close to 5,000 workers and having had 2,845 workers earn raises as a direct result of their work, it is an administratively small workforce powerhouse that turns on a dime to meet the needs of our employers.

The mission of CareerEdge is “to provide an exceptional labor force to a region’s growing industries by leveraging community assets and forming high-performing workforce partnerships.” Designed to work on both sides of the labor market, both the supply and demand side, CareerEdge is the ultimate collaborator of organizations, educational institutions and employers.

We are in a demand market right now, and CareerEdge is making its way through the red tape and systematically changing the way we look at workforce training to meet that demand. 

CareerEdge has clear demonstrations of their impact on our community. A catalyst, convenor and connector, CareerEdge has worked hard to meet the demands of our manufacturing industry with the machinist program at Suncoast Technical College. In lightning speed, CareerEdge put the private sector together with multiple governments for a program where 100 percent of the machinist students have jobs or have been accepted into higher education. 

CareerEdge innovates with Express Training in areas like automotive, plumbing and electrical programs and created a program where employees can earn certifications while also working. They have fostered leadership training with their Healthcare Leadership Consortium Training, and they have worked on 2Gen projects at our schools, helping parents receive their CNAs while their kids learn how to read. 

How does this dynamic nonprofit do this? With less than 10 percent public funding. That’s right, over 90 percent of their funding since inception comes from the private sector and foundation grants. These private stakeholders insist on quantifiable results and key performance metrics CareerEdge has been able to meet time and time again.

I would like to give a special thank you to Gulf Coast Community Foundation for having the vision to birth this wonderful resource at a time when no one understood how badly we would need it. The community certainly understands that need now according to the 2018 County Citizen’s Survey.

Those survey participants were dead-on in their evaluation of what can fuel our economic growth. We are in a good place to do just that with CareerEdge and the Sarasota Chamber. 

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.

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