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.