MANATEE-SARASOTA COUNTIES, FL (June 13, 2013) – The Sarasota County Commissioners have voted unanimously to fund up to $350,000 worth of equipment for a precision machining course to be launched at Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI).  The decision is another successful milestone in a community-wide plan to plug manufacturing skill gaps in our region.

That plan, spearheaded by CareerEdge, has brought together key community players, including the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, Suncoast Workforce, Sarasota County Government, the Sarasota County School Board, SCTI, and the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.  Their goal is to put more area residents to work while filling vacant positions within the manufacturing sector.  In approving the funding for SCTI, the county commissioners commended the community-wide team on their collaboration, adding that they hoped it would become a model for future public-private partnerships working to solve problems in our community.

The Sarasota County Manufacturing Plan of Action was launched after a skills-gap study commissioned by CareerEdge showed that, despite high unemployment levels in the region, manufacturers still had trouble finding skilled workers necessary to grow their businesses.  “This was clearly an unacceptable bottleneck,” said CareerEdge Executive Director Nathalie deWolf.  “At a summit we held last year to release the skills-gap study results, one manufacturer said he had as much as 30 percent pent-up demand for his product, but he simply did not have the skilled labor necessary to fill those  orders.”

As a result, several community organizations came together to create a collaborative solution.  One of the four key components of their plan is improving educational programs to meet the training needs of employers and workers.


Leveraging the county grant for the SCTI program, CareerEdge has committed $25,000 for equipment, while the curriculum itself was devised by SCTI Director Todd Bowden in conjunction with an advisory board of manufacturing-sector employers.  This employer-educator collaboration ensures that what is being taught is really what students need to be effective in the workplace.


In addition, manufacturers will continue to work alongside the school to create internship, apprenticeship, and job opportunities for program participants.  The School Board, for its part, has also committed to five-year funding for the program, while the EDC, Suncoast Workforce, and the Sarasota Chamber are working with the Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association to raise awareness.


New Skilled-Manufacturing Class Promises Good Job Upon Graduation

MANATEE-SARASOTA COUNTIES, FL (July 11, 2013) – It’s a potential return on investment that is hard to ignore:  The new precision-machining program that begins August 18 at Sarasota County Technical Institute holds the promise of a skilled job with competitive pay upon completion of the one-year course.  That’s because local manufacturers helped design the curriculum to meet real needs in their workforce, and many have committed to hiring successful graduates to fill those vacancies.

“We know there’s a need for the skills being taught in this class, because the employers helped build it,” said Nathalie deWolf, executive director of CareerEdge.  “Local manufacturers will be participating by providing internships and post-graduation jobs for students.”

Among area employers with precision-machining operations are Adams Group, Atlantic Mold and Machining, Cavanaugh Companies, Florida Knife Co., Octex LLC, Southern Springs and Stamping, Sun Hydraulics, and Weber Manufacturing and Supplies.

“There really is no limit to where a precision machinist can take their career,” notes Jennifer Behrens-Schmidt, owner of Atlantic Mold and president of the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association.  “Most precision machinists continue to build their skill set with on-the-job training and go on to become specialists in their fields, earning wages upward of $75,000.  Then there are those, like myself, who have gone on to use their skills to build their own successful manufacturing businesses.”

Organizers envision the 10-month postsecondary course as an opportunity for recent graduates as well as workers who have been laid off and seek to upgrade their skills.  “It’s a fast-track course,” says deWolf.  “Graduates can land a skilled machining job earning $25,000 to $30,000 after only one year of school.”  Pell grants and other financial assistance are available to help offset tuition.

What’s more, notes deWolf, is that the skilled jobs waiting offer career prospects, busting the myth of manufacturing as dirty, low-paying, dead-end work.  “Within a couple of years, these machinists can earn $40,000, and salaries continue to grow from there,” said deWolf.  “It’s a path to sustainable income with significant career-growth potential.”

Prospective students can learn more about the precision-machining class and how to register by calling SCTI at 941.924.1365, extension 62283.

A skills-gap study of the region’s manufacturing sector commissioned by CareerEdge found that more than half of manufacturers see skilled production workers as the sector’s top need, and over 40 percent of jobs have gone unfilled for lack of skilled workers.  Equipped with that data, CareerEdge engaged manufacturers and educators last year in developing a communitywide plan to close skills gaps in the sector and to fill vacancies that are hampering growth.  The SCTI precision-machining course is a direct result of that collaboration.

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative of Bradenton, Florida Receives National Award for Exemplary Excellence

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS), a national philanthropic initiative leading the advancement of low-wage workers and unemployed into family-supporting jobs, has named the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative in Bradenton, Florida, as a recipient of its 2013 Chairman’s Award for Exemplary Collaborative.

The CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, led by Executive Director Nathalie deWolf, is the first Funders Collaborative designated as a National Fund for Workforce Solutions site in the Southeastern United States. CareerEdge Funders Collaborative operates partnerships to address skills shortages in the healthcare sector as well as a Bridges to Careers program serving both incumbent workers and job seekers in partnership with four area employers. The group was chosen for their performance in producing measurable results that have met established outcomes, active engagement of a broad civic leadership group, and developing and executing a clear vision and strategy to effectively address gaps in the region’s workforce system.

In announcing this award, NFWS Chair John Padilla said, “On behalf of NFWS, I congratulate the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative as they are deserving of the National Fund Chairman’s Award. They embody the award’s spirit, bringing together employers, educators, government, service providers and philanthropic organizations to deliver education and training services that are advancing the careers of lower-income workers and building system capacity.”

“We are delighted to receive this award as it recognizes the significant impact that CareerEdge has had here in the Sarasota Manatee region”, said Nathalie deWolf.  “It is also important to note that our results are evaluated by a third party.  They do not come from us and, as such, have significant credibility”.

Indeed a recent impact study undertaken by Urban Market Ventures showed that the $1.54 million in investment grants made by CareerEdge over two years has resulted in adding approximately $14.5 million to the Gulf Coast economy.

Another report by Capital Analytics also showed that in its nearly 3 operational years, CareerEdge has created over 300 new jobs, and has assisted over 1400 incumbent workers attain credentials and ensuing pay increases and promotions.

The CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is one of three collaboratives across the U.S. to receive this year’s Chairman’s Award. Other recipients are the Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford (Connecticut) and Baltimore Workforce Funders (Maryland).

Nathalie deWolf, its current Executive Director, along with Mireya Eavey, its former Executive Director and representatives from the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative will formally receive their award at the Third Annual National Fund Meeting in Atlanta from June 11-13, 2013, in Atlanta, Ga.

For information about the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and its Third Annual Meeting, visit For information the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, visit

About the National Fund for Workforce Solutions

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) is an unprecedented initiative of national and local funders whose goal is the career advancement of low-wage workers using a model of substantial employer engagement to increase the potential for successful outcomes. In 30 communities nationwide, NFWS is implementing innovative approaches to creating career paths for jobseekers and employees, particularly low-wage workers. Each community implements a customized version of the model with local employers in workforce partnerships to analyze the local labor market, identify current and future employer needs, and develop training and career pathway programs that meet those needs. To learn more, visit


CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has awarded five grants totaling $205,210 to help Sarasota and Manatee healthcare providers train workers for higher-skilled, better-paying positions in 2013.  CareerEdge also recently revived a bi-county consortium of employers, educators, and community agencies focused on improving workforce development in the healthcare sector.

The five employers receiving grants from CareerEdge to partially offset training costs are Blake Medical Center, Life Care Center of Sarasota, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Pines of Sarasota Foundation, and Venice Regional Medical Center.  The investments will help them train 464 local healthcare workers.  Four of the providers previously received funding from CareerEdge, which is now in its third year of healthcare-training grants.  Venice Regional Medical Center is a new partner for 2013.

Venice Regional identified several areas of training for its employees, including rehabilitative care, critical care, progressive care for nurses, trauma nurse core course, and health information systems.  Employees who complete the training will have necessary occupational skills that align with Venice Regional’s career laddering.  In addition, those earning a credential through their training will be eligible for a pay increase.  “The outcome of this partnership with CareerEdge supports our values in achieving optimal patient outcomes and clinical excellence,” said Peter Wozniak, CEO of Venice Regional Medical Center.

The five employers have committed more than $1.28 million of their own funds toward training their workers in partnership with CareerEdge.  Based on CareerEdge’s funding model, healthcare grantees have assumed an increasingly larger percentage of training costs in successive years as they have seen the benefits of investing in their workforces.

“These employers’ significant contributions show the value they have seen in making workforce investment a priority,” said Mark Pritchett, senior vice president of Gulf Coast Community Foundation and co-chair of CareerEdge.  “Their employees are more skilled and compensated accordingly, morale is improved, patient satisfaction is higher, and we think that leads to increased quality of care overall for the region.”  Gulf Coast Community Foundation acts as the fiscal agent for CareerEdge.

Beyond grants for worker training, CareerEdge is expanding its impact on the region’s healthcare sector by leading a bi-county working group focused on healthcare-specific workforce issues.  The previously named Bi-County Healthcare Committee, which was formed by Suncoast Workforce but dissolved when its funding lapsed in 2010, has been revived by CareerEdge in response to employer demand.  The newly named Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative has been meeting since January, with more than 30 employers and educators participating.

“We provide an open forum to share and learn best practices, discuss challenges, and arrive at solutions together,” said Veronica Lequeux, vice president of human resources at Blake Medical Center and chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative.  According to Lequeux, the group in its current iteration has evolved much like the issues within the healthcare industry have.  “Today, as a stronger partnership than ever, we focus on promoting system changes at a regional level that will impact the community at large,” she said.

Jennifer Carp, assistant director of CareerEdge, notes that working with the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative will enable CareerEdge to widen the scope of services it provides and help make the region’s healthcare sector more competitive.  CareerEdge intends to invest in trainings and other initiatives through the consortium, said Carp.

CareerEdge Announces New Affordable Car Purchase Program for Low-Income Workers

MANATEE/SARASOTA, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2012) – CareerEdge of Florida Inc, in partnership with the Manatee Community Federal Credit Union and Enterprise Car Sales, announced the development of a new affordable car purchase program for low-income workers in Manatee County. The new Reliable Rides program enables low-income workers and families to buy affordable vehicles for work and other essential family business.   “Having a reliable vehicle to provide transportation to and from work is essential to maintain steady employment,” said CareerEdge’s Executive Director Mireya Eavey. “Many workers and families are currently unable to purchase a reliable car because of debt or credit challenges causing high finance rates. We partnered with Manatee Community Federal Credit Union and Enterprise Car Sales to address this issue and provide reliable transportation to low-income families.”   Vehicles for Reliable Rides are available for purchase through Enterprise Car Sales. Vehicles available are pre-owned, late-modeled cars selected for low mileage and affordability. Each vehicle comes with a 12-month/12,000 mile powertrain warranty, vehicle certification, 12-month roadside assistance, and a seven-day repurchase agreement.   Financing for Reliable Rides is available through Manatee Community Federal Credit Union for eligible applicants who work, worship, live or are students in Manatee County or work with CareerEdge of Florida.

Bridges to Careers Graduation in North Port

MANATEE/SARASOTA, FL (October 9, 2012) CareerEdge Funders Collaborative will graduate 14 local residents of North Port from their Bridges to Careers program this Friday, October 12th  at 11:00am

“I learned so much about myself and how to handle situations differently or to even look at them from a different perspective because of Bridges to Careers.” Pamela, a participant of the training said.

The efforts of CareerEdge are focused on diminishing skill gaps and helping employers locate and develop qualified and skilled workers through a sector-approach.

North Port has suffered greatly from high rates of chronic unemployment. “We chose to partner with Job Connection at Goodwill Industries in North Port because they’re doing great work and we wanted to leverage the efforts and great strides their Job Connection is already making in the community,” CareerEdge Executive Director Mireya Eavey said.

The goal of this project was to train individuals faced with disadvantaging situations to improve skills, retool their abilities and make them work ready. Microsoft Unlimited Potential and Bank of America granted CareerEdge with the funding that made Bridges to Careers possible.

As technology evolves employers seek individuals with advanced computer skills. Through digital literacy training, which is a key component of the program participants are able to obtain the skills needed to keep a competitive edge as they pursue employment opportunities.

“As funders collaborative our goal is to convene community organizations, employers, and educational institutions to avoid duplication of efforts and so everyone can contribute to the highest levels of success for those who participate in our programs” Eavey stated.

Help wanted from manufacturers to identify skills gap in region’s workforce

MANATEE-SARASOTA, FL (May 21, 2012) – The CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is putting up a “help wanted” sign for local manufacturers: Help us identify the jobs and skills you need to grow your companies.

CareerEdge will launch a survey on May 23 to understand and quantify the gap in skills for manufacturing jobs in Manatee and Sarasota counties.  Beginning Wednesday, manufacturers in the two-county region can access the online survey at  Both links go to the same survey.

The links also will be available on the CareerEdge website (, and via the websites of community partners including the two counties’ economic development corporations, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association.  The quantitative survey will be supplemented with telephone interviews.

“We need this input from our region’s manufacturers, large and small, to best understand how we can improve the region’s manufacturing workforce,” said Mireya Eavey, executive director of CareerEdge.

Data generated through the survey will be compared with training resources available in the region.  The goal is to identify whether training currently exists and, if not, what must be changed or added by training partners to help manufacturers fill the skill gap, hire employees, and grow their companies.  The survey is being conducted by Sarasota’s Kempton Research and Planning.

Eavey notes that the innovative survey will be among the first of its kind to inventory and analyze the specific skill gap for the sector at such a local level.  “We have had help from the National Association of Manufacturers in designing the survey,” said Eavey.  “I don’t know of another survey like this that has drilled down to the regional level.

CareerEdge Generates Millions in New Wages for Manatee-Sarasota

MANATEE-SARASOTA, FL (May 4, 2012) – An independent analysis of the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative finds that the nonprofit workforce-development program is producing millions of dollars in new wages and economic impact for the Manatee-Sarasota region.  The April 2012 analysis also documents why the organization’s innovative approach could serve as a high-impact, cost-effective workforce-training model for the rest of Florida.

“This independent research confirms what we have long believed—that when you deeply engage employers, funders, and local workforce programs as true partners, you get amazing results,” said Damian Thorman, National Program Director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and chair of the Investors Committee for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.  Knight Foundation is one of the original investors in CareerEdge, having seeded the bi-county workforce-development effort with a $1-million grant in 2009.

Conducted by Urban Market Ventures, with data review by Capital Analytics, the analysis finds that $1.54 million in investments by CareerEdge in 2011 and so far in 2012 will result in nearly $3 million in annual earnings increases for incumbent workers at local employers, and more than $5.6 million in new annual wages for jobseekers placed in new positions.  The regional impact of those investments includes nearly $4.3 million in new, “value added” income that is being pumped into the local economy.

“Each year’s investment requires about four years to bear full fruit, in terms of the pay raises and promotions that workers will earn by completing CareerEdge programs,” noted Mireya Eavey, executive director of CareerEdge. “So we will see an even larger share of the impacts in years two, three, and four for each worker.”

The most tangible impacts on workers, according to the analysis, are the pay raises and new wages they earn as a result of CareerEdge training programs.  The study found that 883 incumbent workers who participated will increase their household income by $3,376 per year.  Combined, the cumulative annual earnings increase for those workers is $2.98 million.

CareerEdge also helped place 284 jobseekers into new positions in 2011, including 139 previously unemployed individuals.  Those former jobseekers will earn $5.62 million a year in new wages, on top of which near-term pay raises are expected to add another $628,300 in cumulative annual earnings.

While the study focused on the real-world impacts on individual workers, it also reports that local employers—the other “customer” in the CareerEdge training model—and the regional economy as a whole are benefitting substantially.  Although some new jobs that CareerEdge secured would eventually have been filled by other workers, the analysis showed that 50 percent of the new wages for CareerEdge workers pours new income into the local economy.  All told, workers who started their CareerEdge training in either 2011 or 2012 will earn an added $8.59 million per year, $4.28 million of which is new, “value added” income for the regional economy.  Through spending, the economic “multiplier effect” of that new income is nearly $3 million per year in income to other local businesses and workers.  Combined, then, CareerEdge metes out a $7.28-million increase in the Gross Regional Product.

The analysis suggests that CareerEdge’s career-laddering model could double the region’s rate of job creation, and do so eight to 10 times more cost-effectively than prevailing workforce models.  “What I find most important in this evaluation is the hard evidence that our career-ladder model is working,” said Mark Pritchett, Senior Vice President for Community Investment at Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which is another initial investor in CareerEdge and co-chair of its investors committee.  “Workers achieve higher wages and gain new opportunities faster when we work closely with employers.”

The full analysis is available on the CareerEdge website at and on the Gulf Coast Community Foundation website at


By the Numbers: CareerEdge Impact on Workers’ Lives and Regional Economy
•  $1.54 million – CareerEdge investments in training in 2011 and 2012
•  2,568 – workers trained in the Manatee-Sarasota region
•  $8.59 million – total annual wage increases for 2011 and ’12 CareerEdge-trained workers
•  $4.28 million – total of above that is new income for local economy
•  $2.99 million – new annual income to other businesses through “multiplier effect” spending
•  $7.28 million – total increase in Gross Regional Product from CareerEdge
•  $7,700 – annual wage increase for CareerEdge workers previously classified as “low low-income”

Help Wanted from Manufacturers
The analysis shows that CareerEdge has helped existing training programs, like those at local community colleges, evolve their offerings to meet the real-time market needs of employers.  Now CareerEdge is asking local manufacturers, large and small, to help identify training needs in their sector.

CareerEdge will launch an online survey May 14 to “understand and quantify the skills gap for manufacturing jobs in Sarasota and Manatee counties,” said CareerEdge’s Eavey.  “We want to specifically identify the jobs and skills manufacturers lack as they seek to grow their companies.”  Created with help from the National Association of Manufacturers, the survey will be one of the first of its kind done on a local level, she added.

Targeting manufacturing employment in Southwest Florida

SARASOTA — At Quality Enclosures, a Sarasota company that makes glass-and-aluminum shower doors, owner Steve Schwartz has turned the Great Recession to his advantage.

In November 2010, he acquired a glass-tempering operation in Port Orange, near Daytona Beach, which allowed him to harden his own glass and, ultimately, add to profits. Before that acquisition, he’d had to farm the process out.

Now, he wants to move the glass tempering here and expand his 60-person payroll. But to continue to grow, Schwartz is going to need to move some workers from entry-level positions into roles that require more specialized knowledge and skills.

That, in turn, should create more openings for new workers.

For economic development officials, fostering that process — known as “creating a career ladder” — is in itself an opportunity, especially for manufacturing operations.

The opportunity is so great that, in 2012, regional groups involved in economic development are going to be doing the career-ladder dance in unison for the first time.

What the groups, collectively, have realized is that a couple of different mismatches are keeping the local economy from growing.

For one, the people who are out of work or dramatically underemployed often do not have the skills that are in demand. For another, the region’s educators are not always teaching the skills that would qualify students for actual jobs.

“We have a kind of misalignment of the people looking for work and the companies that are growing,” said Ted Ehrlichman, chief operating officer at the Suncoast Workforce Board, which runs three federally funded offices catering to job seekers in the region.

The jobs that are available, many of which are in manufacturing, “are in a very specific industry. They have a very targeted need,” Ehrlichman said.

His group is one of those now collaborating with Bradenton-based CareerEdge, a well-endowed non-profit that elicits information from employers about what skills they need in existing or new workers and then matches employers with needed training, whether it is in-house, on-line or at a local school.

To help better identify the scope of the need, CareerEdge executive director Mireya Eavey has commissioned a study on current and future job gaps in manufacturing operations.

By April, she hopes to have documented the need for machine tool operators and other similar specifics that will, in turn, help her convince educators to invest in equipment and curriculums to bridge this gap.

“Before they put in this machining class, they want to know how many jobs,” Eavey said. “Well, I am going to give it to them.”

Meanwhile, CareerEdge has $400,000 to distribute, and it is is accepting applications from employers for grants and support. Eavey’s deadline is Feb. 10.

Her goal for 2012 is to direct a substantial amount of money into training programs for use by manufacturers. She believes the group will end up with half a dozen companies that qualify, ranging in size from bigger companies — like bandage manufacturer Aso Corp. — to smallish outfits, like Quality Enclosures.

Collaborative efforts like this are not new, of course, but asking manufacturers to become directly involved is, she said.

“I am definitely on board,” said Schwartz, Quality Enclosures’ owner.

So far, Schwartz has been focused on more education for his workers through the Suncoast Workforce Board, which has arranged for his managers to take an online training class.

But he is also considering applying to CareerEdge, thanks to encouragement he has received from the Sarasota Economic Development Corp.

The CareerEdge application is formatted in a way that nudges employers into creating career ladders for workers, Eavey said.

“The manufacturing is going to be very competitive,” Eavey said. “An employer that wants $50,000 and isn’t going to do any promotion, I can tell you they aren’t going to get a penny.”

The stakes, analysts contend, extend far beyond the success of niche manufacturers like Quality Enclosures and into the regional economy overall.

While construction, government and information-related businesses continue to shed jobs in Florida, trade, health services and manufacturing have largely turned around, according to state and University of Central Florida data.

While manufacturing employment continued to wobble through the second half of 2011, the sector “is emerging from this period of globalization as competitive as it has been in many years,” said Sean Snaith, a University of Central Florida economist who regularly publishes “Florida and Metro Forecast.”

He sees continued, gradual growth in employment in manufacturing through 2014, the result of a U.S. dollar weaker than currencies in emerging markets, where economic expansion is strong.

“Given the major decline in construction and the economic downturn hurting tourism, manufacturing is finally getting the attention it deserves,” said Jennifer Behrens Schmidt, who runs Venice-based Atlantic Mold and Machining Corp. and who also is president of the Sarasota Manatee Area Manufacturers Association.

“In an economy where jobs are hard to come by, almost every manufacturer I know is hiring or accepting résumés or has added jobs in the past year,” she said.

Atlantic Mold itself provides a great example of the wealth-spreading effect that manufacturing can have in a community.

While it only employs six people, Atlantic Mold plays a crucial role in creating the plastic glassware made by Tervis Tumbler, one of Sarasota County’s larger employers.

That is because Atlantic Mold makes the steel molds that another company, Octex Corp., uses to create the plastic inner and outer shells that eventually become one of Tervis’ signature insulated tumblers.

“For every large company, it requires the support of many other tier-two and tier-three companies that are also great jobs,” Behrens Schmidt said.

“We would be larger, but we can’t find people with the skill sets,” she said. “Journeymen mold makers — it is a very advanced manufacturing skill set. They are difficult to find.”

CareerEdge Puts Unemployed to Work with Bridges to Careers

MANATEE/SARASOTA, FL (September 29, 2011) – CareerEdge Funders Collaborative Manatee Sarasota will celebrate the graduation of 10 individuals from its “Bridges to Careers” workforce-readiness training on Tuesday, Oct. 4.  Seven of the 10 previously unemployed workers in this inaugural training class have already secured full-time jobs with a local manufacturer.

“It felt great to make a commitment to this group of individuals and be able to say to them, ‘We delivered,’ ” said Jennifer Carp, senior program director at CareerEdge.  “We promised them training, improved lives, and access to employment, and we are providing just that.”

The class that is set to graduate on Tuesday consists of residents from neighborhoods targeted by the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency for economic development and rehabilitation.  The Manatee Economic Development Council helped bring CareerEdge together with Suncoast Workforce to present the Bridges to Careers participants to manufacturer Berry Plastics.  Seven of the trainees have already been hired by the company.

“During our recent job fair, the CareerEdge participants definitely stood out from the rest,” said Martha Atkins, human resources manager at Berry Plastics.  “We were very impressed by their promptness, their appearance, their terrific attitudes, and their preparedness.  With little notice, they made arrangements to meet with me again and were ready to start work immediately.”

At the request of Berry Plastics’ plant manager, CareerEdge will help the company recruit and train another class of workers in October.  “We are adding some new lines starting in October and will need anywhere from 10 to 20 more employees,” said Atkins.  “We would like those new employees to be ones who have shown their dedication by participating in the CareerEdge program.”

Bridges to Careers helps unemployed residents from low-income areas in Manatee and Sarasota counties enhance their skills and earning potential through formal skills training and credentialing for the workforce.  The program complements other CareerEdge training that is aimed at incumbent workers in low-skilled positions who need training to move up the career ladder and earn higher pay.

Funding for Bridges to Careers comes specifically from a grant from Microsoft and a grant from Jane’s Trust.  Carp also noted the contributions of others in coordinating and executing the Bridges to Careers training.  “The Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency was a great partner in helping us put this training together,” she said. “We were able to bring State College of Florida and training consultants Mileo and Associates to the table to help facilitate trainings, and they went above and beyond in serving these participants.”

Microsoft’s grant to CareerEdge aimed to provide at least 200 individuals in the Manatee-Sarasota region with job-readiness training and job placement. Since March, CareerEdge has served 540 individuals through the grant, helping them gain credentials and get back to work.  Besides the individuals in Tuesday’s graduating class, CareerEdge has worked directly with employers such as PGT Industries and Tervis to train workers with funding from Microsoft.