Employers New Edge

Rod Millington CareerEdge Executive Director Mireya Eavey, with Michelle Callan, PGT’s university manager, distributer education. The company, a windows and doors manufacturer in North Venice, is pleased with the employee-training programs offered by the Bradenton-based nonprofit.

When PGT Inc. CEO Rod Hershberger wanted to expand production for the North Venice custom windows and doors manufacturer, he needed skilled workers — and he needed them fast.

Enter the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, a nonprofit work force training program based on a flexible national model developed in the Northeast and based in Boston. CareerEdge aims to build career paths for lower income employees by focusing on growth industries and assisting employers looking to fill positions with skilled workers.

Since opening an office in Bradenton in September, CareerEdge has trained 682 employees — including 289 new hires — according to its director, Mireya Eavey. The Sarasota/Manatee program is one of 31 similar ones around the country, but so far the only one in Florida.

Unlike bureaucratic public work force boards that focus on services for the unemployed, CareerEdge contracts directly with targeted employers in high-demand industries including manufacturing, health care, transportation and technology. “They’re about serving the employees,” says Eavey, about work force boards. “We’re about serving the employers. We’re an enhancement.”

CareerEdge, however, does work closely with the Suncoast Workforce Board and staff, says Eavey, who says the two organizations complement one another.

Sally Hill, spokeswoman for the board, agrees. “We absolutely work in partnership,” she says. “There’s areas where we may not be able to provide training under the Workforce Investment Act, where CareerEdge can.”
Ted Ehrlichman, the board’s COO, says there’s no overlap, it’s just that CareerEdge is sector-specific. The program also fills a gap, he says. “They’re about training for the next better job and the next better job.”

Hershberger likes seeing the training gap being filled at PGT. “I think the program’s been wonderful. We take them though an extensive program,” he says about the trainees. “We want them ready to work. Using CareerEdge they’re able to do all that training ahead of time. We definitely recommend them.”

That training includes the Florida Ready-To-Work assessment and certification. It also includes “observation testing,” which evaluates workers on the use of equipment they’ll be operating in their jobs. At PGT, 195 workers completed the certification and another 85 employees will be going through observation testing soon, Eavey says.

Despite nearly 16,700 unemployed in Sarasota County and a 10.4% unemployment rate as of May, finding skilled workers can still be a challenge for manufacturers and other industries in need of technical know-how or professional expertise. That’s a common problem around the country that the National Fund for Workforce Solutions sought to solve when it formed in 2007.

The fund is a collaboration between top foundations and a national network of companies, work force groups and government agencies. Big backers include the Ford Foundation, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Microsoft and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The national funders provide seed money — $23 million so far — to regional sites to develop localized solutions. CareerEdge’s funding includes $1 million from the Knight Foundation, $450,000 from the National Fund, $209,000 from Microsoft (plus a $30,000 software donation), $450,000 from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, plus $200,000 from Sarasota County and additional funds from the cities of Sarasota ($120,000) and Bradenton ($400,000 divided among two community redevelopment agencies and the downtown development authority).

In each of the 31 regions where the National Fund is working, regional collaboratives bring together government agencies, foundations and other philanthropic organizations to target financial resources and strategic thinking on creating jobs and careers. Together, the regional collaboratives committed an additional $100 million to the effort.

Mark Pritchett, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s senior vice president of community investment, says the foundation bumped up its initial $150,000 investment in CareerEdge to target health care worker training.
Blake Hospital in Bradenton has put 239 employees through the training, nearly all for trauma certification, but several also received surgical technician training, says Eavey. “The key is working with employers that know where the jobs are that makes this successful,” Pritchett says. “It’s the dollars following the employees to these places that makes them get hired.”

Eavey has raised $1.25 million locally so far, and says the program now has funding totaling nearly $4 million. She expects that should keep CareerEdge running for almost four years.

That suits PGT’s Hershberger, who says the CareerEdge program helps his company’s bottom line. “Normally the training process to bring someone up to speed can take three to six months,” he says. “It cuts a month off.”
Looking ahead, Hershberger adds, “Yes, as we hire people, we’ll use it.”

Bridges To Careers For Low-Skilled Workers In Manatee, Sarasota

A new service being launched by CareerEdge will help build new careers for healthcare workers in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Seeded with a $75,000 grant from Jane’s Trust, the pilot program will focus on preparing young residents in low-income areas for career-path jobs through training and support services. It will primarily target the neighborhoods of Washington Park in central Bradenton and Newtown in Sarasota. Other areas to be served include North Port and other areas in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

“This generous funding from Jane’s Trust means we can begin to extend our training efforts to unemployed residents who are ready to enter the workforce,” said Mireya Eavey, executive director of CareerEdge.

A range of partners has committed to participate in the new program, which is dubbed “Bridges to Careers for Low-Skilled Workers.” The respective economic development agencies in Manatee and Sarasota counties will help establish connections with potential employers. State College of Florida and the Sarasota County Technical Institute will help recruit and enroll participants and provide support services.

CareerEdge plans to seek additional funding from current and prospective investors for the multi-year program.

“We have raised more than $3 million in funding and commitments to help train incumbent workers for better jobs, but there is a critical gap in Sarasota and Manatee counties for the unemployed,” said Eavey. “CareerEdge’s work-readiness program will set itself apart by identifying the requirements for success for low-skilled adults at the next level of education and employment.”

National designation for local workforce collaborative

Manatee and Sarasota County will become the nation’s newest National Fund for Workforce Solutions site, thanks to work by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative of Manatee & Sarasota (CEFC), formerly known as the Manatee Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative.

CareerEdge is the only Nationally Designated Funder for Workforce Solutions inFlorida.

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is delighted to welcome CareerEdge into our national network of innovative workforce development initiatives,” said Fred Dedrick, Executive Director for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “Manatee andSarasota Counties are excellent examples of how communities can pull together great leaders to develop smart strategies to address the very serious problems of unemployment and skill deficits.  Their strong emphasis on working directly with employers combined with the dedicated commitment of many community partners has raised to date over $2.5 million in regional support to match the three year NFWS grant of $450,000, bodes well for their success.”

Manatee and Sarasota counties will benefit from the national designation the addition of   $450,000 in new grant money will expand career opportunities for our residents and connect our counties with other innovative regions throughout the United States.  “CareerEdge represents the new “out of the box” thinking we need to build the foundation for a new regional economy,” said Teri Hansen, President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice and an initial investor in CareerEdge.

CareerEdge is dedicated to preparing low-skilled workers in the two-county region for higher paying jobs in the fields of healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and technology industries.

CareerEdge is the first of its kind in the Southeastern United States and will be connected to private-philanthropic contributors including Microsoft, Hitachi, and Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L Knight Foundation and others.

Nearly 200 funders nationwide are investing millions of dollars in local communities to help get people back to work and ensure that American businesses are able to compete, said Steve Queior, President of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Inc.

“CareerEdge both leverages existing workforce development activities and fills a void where programs with very specific criteria can’t meet our community’s needs,” he said. “The initiative’s flexibility to target resources where they will make the most positive impacts for both workers and employers is truly an asset in the Sarasota and Manatee Counties region.”

CareerEdge was formed in 2009 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency, the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice Inc., Bank of America and the Manatee County Action Agency. Mark Pritchett, Vice President of Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Inc. serves as Co-Chairman and is charged with fiscal oversight of the initiative. Sherod Halliburton, Executive Director of the Bradenton Central CRA serves as the other Co-Chairman and is charged with oversight of the operations of the initiative.  CareerEdge is housed and operates out of the offices of the Bradenton Central CRA.  Other funders include Suncoast Workforce, SarasotaCounty, and Sarasota Newtown CRA.

“The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation are pleased to be an investor in CareerEdge,” said Damian Thorman, National Program Director for Knight Foundation and incoming chair of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. “The collaborative allows us to partner with other community stakeholders in Manatee and Sarasotacounties who are dedicated to moving low-wage individuals into careers with a living wage and to providing employers with access to the skilled labor they need. This local commitment builds on Knight Foundation’s investment in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and in local collaborative’ in Detroit, Philadelphia and Wichita.”

Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said he’s thrilled that the Bradenton Central CRA is the first public entity to ever serve as a lead organization for a National Fund site. “That speaks to Bradenton’s commitment to participate in projects that develop the economic capacity of our residents and strengthens the region as a whole,” he added.

New Workforce Effort Seeks to Boost Wages

A new workforce collaborative announced the injection of more than $1.5 million in funding commitments to help move low-income workers in Manatee and Sarasota counties into higher paying jobs.

The Manatee Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative unveiled plans to focus initially on healthcare workers in the region. Healthcare was identified by leaders as one of the main growth industries in the region. Meredith Hector, program director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“We can really fill in some of the gaps if we do this right,” Hector said.

The workforce group pointed to a labor analysis showing that healthcare and social assistance industry comprises 15 percent of employment in Sarasota and 10 percent in Manatee.

The Knight Foundation, based in Miami, is injecting $1 million toward the workforce effort on its own. Mark Pritchett, vice president of community investment for the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, noted that all of that money is outside capital, and not simply money raised locally which will be re-circulated in the community.

The Gulf Coast foundation will also provide $150,000 and provide oversight for the fiscal operations. The City of Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency is providing $200,000 to help bolster resource management

Local workforce group pushes for $450,000

By GRACE GAGLIANO – ggagliano@bradenton.com

The CareerEdge Funders Collaborative Manatee Sarasota spent Wednesday showcasing its plans to train workers for higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs to a group of national workforce officials.

The local organization wants to gain national designation from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, an accreditation that could bring $150,000 a year over the next three years for workforce training in the health care sector.

“Our mission is dedicated to moving low-wage workers into higher-paying jobs and getting employers the skilled workers they need,” said Mireya Eavey, director of CareerEdge. “At the end of the day, if we have a skilled workforce our employees will have more efficiency in the workplace.”

CareerEdge formed in October to help build a local talent pool for the health care industry. It has already secured more than $3 million from nine public and private investors.

The collaborative made its first distribution in April when it awarded five grants totaling $35,457 to local health care facilities.

Allyson Hostetler, a registered nurse at Tidewell Hospice, is one of 60 Tidewell nurses who is attending a training course on how to help patients with the physical, psychosocial and spiritual needs at the end of life.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and savings for us,” said Hostetler of the $19,350 grant that went to Tidewell. “This is giving us the education to have a better understanding of what the patient is going through. If we have a better understanding, the patient outcome is better.”

Fred Dedrick, executive director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, will make a recommendation on the local chapter’s national designation at an investor meeting in September.

Aside from the funding CareerEdge could receive, Dedrick said the classification will give the local organization access to educational workshops and professional advising to move the group forward.

“I can see by today’s turnout how important this application is to you,” Dedrick said, of the estimated 50 business leaders in attendance. “We’re in the work of helping people find a career to support their families and that is incredibly important work. I request that you not think about it as a charity but think about CareerEdge as something that’s going to help build up your community to be successful.”

Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/2010/08/05/2483867/local-workforce-group-pushes-for.html#ixzz129e5EkWM


Local Workforce Funders Collaborative Hires New Director

Mireya C. Eavey has been hired as the new director for the Manatee-Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative, a group made up of public, corporate and private-philanthropic contributors dedicated to preparing low-skilled workers in the two-county region for higher paying jobs.

Ms. Eavey previously was the workforce and project manager for the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation which, similar to its counterpart in Manatee County, specializes in helping businesses expand or relocate to the area and enhancing the local workforce.

The Workforce Funders Collaborative’s approach is to build upon the existing infrastructure in place in the region, including a robust network of Industry Partnerships across the state to train and educate organizations in developing programs for incumbent workers that better meet the real needs of employers.

Ms. Eavey will report to MSWFC Co-Chairman Sherod Halliburton, Executive Director of the Bradenton Central Community Redevelopment Agency and is in charge of coordinating and managing all aspects of the Collaborative.

A Sarasota-area resident since 1977, she is currently enrolled at Argosy University and is a few credit hours shy of obtaining a Master of Business Administration in Sustainable Systems.

“MSWFC is very fortunate to have Ms. Eavey leading the initiative,” Mr. Halliburton said.  “Ms. Eavey brings significant experience working within our current workforce system. Her relationship with employers, educational institutions, the Suncoast Workforce Board along with her commitment to creating opportunities for employees is exactly what we were looking for in a director.”

About Manatee Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative

Manatee Sarasota Workforce Funders Collaborative was formed in 2009 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Bradenton Central CRA, the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice Inc., Bank of America and the Manatee County Action Agency. Mark Pritchett, Vice President of Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Inc. serves as Co-Chairman and is charged with fiscal oversight of the initiative.

MSWFC currently has five primary activities:

– Award program grants to IPs and other “sectoral initiatives” designed to help beginning and underemployed workers build the skills they need to get family-sustaining jobs.

– Issue capacity-building grants to improve the abilities of IPs and other “sectoral initiatives” to work with lower-skilled adults.

– Promote effective practices that expand opportunities for low-skilled workers.

– Garner additional resources by involving more foundations in sectoral initiatives.

– Advocate for the institutionalization of the IP model as the States principal vehicle for workforce development, and for the expansion and strengthening of IP networks