Workforce Development Nonprofit Offers New Auto Technician Training

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is again partnering with four dealerships to provide a fast-track path to becoming an automotive technician.

The workforce development nonprofit CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is again partnering with four automotive dealerships to provide a free fast-track path to becoming an automotive technician. The training program runs 4-8 p.m. Monday and Wednesday evenings at Suncoast Technical College, 4748 S. Beneva Road, Sarasota, beginning Monday, April 8, and continuing through Monday, June 24. Participating employers include Gettel Automotive, Sunset Automotive Group, Peterson Toyota of Sarasota and Wilde Automotive.

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CareerEdge Brings Region to the Forefront of Innovation with U.S. Chamber Partnership

SARASOTA, Fla. (March 1, 2019) —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has chosen CareerEdge Funders Collaborative under the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, along with their partners, to pioneer an innovative workforce solution that uses technology to develop open source job descriptions, which will improve employers’ ability to source talent.

As part of the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s year long Job Data Exchange (JDX) Pilot Project, CareerEdge will work with PGT Innovations and Four Winds Network Services to begin utilizing open data tools and resources to make manufacturing job information clearer and more accessible for education providers, our local workforce and employers.

Participation in this pilot offers access to the latest technology and advances CareerEdge’s near decade of work in connecting employers and partners to create regional workforce solutions. Translating job data to open data will create a universal language for employer signaling, allowing education, training and credentialing partners to create more effective career pathway infrastructure. With improved job descriptions, educators can tailor curriculum, job candidates can more effectively prepare and employers’ needs can be better met, lending to the overall success of the region.

CareerEdge, PGT Innovations and Four Winds Network Services will focus on working with the manufacturing industry for this pilot.

“PGT Innovations is proud to partner on this pilot program for this important national initiative through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation,” said Debbie LaPinska, PGT Innovations Sr. Vice President of Human Resources. “Our team looks forward to working with local organizations, such as the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, and contributing and collaborating our voice with other marketplace stakeholders and influencers to assist with this resourceful enterprise.”

CareerEdge and its partners constitute one of seven Pilot Partner Teams across the country selected for this pilot and represent the only team in the southeast. Collectively, the seven pilot partner teams are made up of education and training providers, employers, HR professionals and HR technology vendors representing the healthcare, defense, utilities, energy and manufacturing industries.

More information on JDX is available here.


About CareerEdge Funders Collaborative

CareerEdge is an innovative partnership of business, government, and philanthropic organizations that leverages public and private dollars to provide opportunities for better jobs and wages in Manatee and Sarasota counties.  For more information about CareerEdge and its partners, please visit or call 941.556.4029.


CareerEdge Hires Donahue as Program Manager


CareerEdge Funders Collaborative Hires Donahue as Program Manager



CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has hired Shauna Donahue as program manager to help manage workforce development initiatives, internal and external communications, grant administration, manage business and partner relationships and coordinate special projects related to CareerEdge Funders Collaborative.

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SARASOTA — Free training and guaranteed jobs are available in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, thanks to CareerEdge, Manatee Technical College, the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and participating companies.

Graduates of the free, four-evenings-a-week classes at the college are guaranteed jobs with the participating employers at an average starting wage of $15 per hour, according to a CareerEdge news release.

The condensed version of the college’s HVAC Technician program resulted from CareerEdge meetings organized to determine the industry’s workforce needs.

The tuition-free, 225-hour training class will begin Jan. 22 and run through March, with classes from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday at MTC’s main campus at 6305 State Road 70, in Manatee County. The program will include CareerEdge’s Bridges to Careers soft-skills training and Occupational Safety and Health Administration and CPR training.

To be eligible, applicants must have clean background and drug checks, a valid driver’s license, and the ability to lift 75 pounds and work in hot attics. No technical experience is required. Those interested in participating will need to apply for the program and be screened by the college and employers.

Local companies participating include Aqua plumbing, B & I, Artic Air, Air Service of Manasota Inc., DEL-AIR, Conditioned Air, MACCA and Veteran Air. Cool Today, Badger Bob’s, DEL-AIR and Ultimate Air are providing materials and teaching. Read More


CareerEdge Receives Funding for Fast-Track Training Programs

CareerEdge Receives Funding for Fast-Track Training Programs



CareerEdge has received a $150,000 grant from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, in partnership with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, to implement “express” or fast-track training programs in high-demand occupations. This grant aims to build on and scale effective practices for training, placing and advancing low-income and low-skilled workers. Major goals of this grant-funded project include: minimize industry skill gaps, assist unemployed, low-wage and low-skill workers in obtaining employment at livable and competitive wages (150 anticipated to be served), help individuals obtain national and state industry certifications and training, assist regional industry employers meet their workforce needs and expand their businesses and grow the regional economy through meeting the supply/demand-side of workforce.

This model was recently piloted by CareerEdge in the trades sector. CareerEdge partnered with employers, post-secondary institutions and community-based organizations to provide short-term training programs in skilled trade occupations for both entry-level incumbent workers and low-skill job seekers. As part of the express program, employers offer ongoing work-based learning opportunities to further develop the graduates. Technical fast-track programs include Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC, Broadband, Machining and Automotive Technicians. Express certifications include manufacturing certificates such as CNC machining, Six Sigma, MSSC, CPT, Plumbing Helper, etc. Graduates of the job seeker programs will be placed directly with employers in full-time paid positions with benefits.

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Grant to Help Create Fast-Track Job Training Programs

The National Fund for Workforce Solutions recently awarded the workforce development nonprofit CareerEdge Funders Collaborative a $150,000 grant.  The National Fund for Workforce Solutions recently awarded the workforce development nonprofit CareerEdge Funders Collaborative a $150,000 grant to create fast-track training programs in high-demand occupations. Some of the goals of the project include minimizing industry skill gaps; helping unemployed, low-wage and low-skill workers obtain livable wages; helping individuals obtain certifications and training; and more. Read more

Employee shortage in insurance industry prompts interviews and roundtables with employers

CareerEdge study delves into how insurance industry in Sarasota/Manatee area can attract workers.

Construction, health care and manufacturing aren’t the only industries with worker shortages. The insurance industry is feeling it, too.

A new study by Sarasota-based CareerEdge Funders Collaborative addresses that issue, examining jobs and skills needed for area insurance companies to grow and meet the talent shortage head-on.

The study was put together using data from phone interviews and in-person roundtables with employers. One area employer that participated, for instance, has 60 job openings.

Mireya Eavey, chief workforce officer for The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, tells Coffee Talk many of the insurance companies that participated in the study are competitors. “They came together because they realize they have to work together to address this shortage of workers,” she says.

One key finding from talks with employers is students don’t understand insurance. “We have to change the story in schools,” Eavey says.

To do that, some rebranding of the industry and the available careers is in order. “The biggest thing is rebranding — highlighting this industry of good-paying jobs,” she says.

Employers also conveyed they want to be more involved in developing higher education programs about insurance. “Employers are eager to be part of the solution,” Eavey says. “The programs we currently have aren’t exactly what we need.”

The next step is presenting the findings to educators from a variety of educational entities, from Sarasota County Schools to State College of Florida. “We look at this as an opportunity for them,” Eavey says. “Educators are eager to have programs that fit the needs.”

After educator feedback is collected, a communitywide plan will be developed with specific action steps. The process is similar to one CareerEdge successfully followed for the manufacturing industry.


The Great Collaborator on Workforce Development

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.

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Two Experts weigh in on solutions for industry’s shortage of workers

Mary Dougherty and Mireya Eavey have been talking lately about the workforce shortage in the construction industry, and what can be done to relieve it.
Dougherty is the executive director of the 345-member Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, which represents and advocates for the building industry in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. She has held that post since 2009.
Eavey is chief workforce officer at the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. She resigned as Sarasota area president of United Way Suncoast in May when CareerEdge moved to the chamber.
In the Sarasota-Manatee region, 25,000 people were working in the construction sector in July, according to the latest state data. That was up by 1,600 workers over the year, but off from the July peak of 32,400 in 2006. States like Florida, where home values fell more sharply during the bust, experienced greater declines in their construction work forces.

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CareerEdge Offers Workforce Development Month Update

Nationwide, Workforce Development Month provides the opportunity to look at the current labor market and shine a light on approaches that are working to keep unemployment low and produce the skilled workers—and where they are working—to help more Americans connect to jobs and career pathways. CareerEdge Funders Collaborative has partnered with local organizations and The National Fund for Workforce Solutions to focus on the Sarasota/ Manatee region.  Currently, CareerEdge is partnering with the healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation and financial services sectors to implement strategies to close skills gaps and connect people to career-laddering occupations with family-sustaining wages.  Projects include fast-track technician trainings for automotive, air conditioning, plumbing, broadband and electrical, as well as funded certified nurse assistant programs.  CareerEdge also launched a skills gap study of the Insurance industry, and has convened a Regional Workforce Council of key stakeholders to address workforce policy.

Measurable outcomes from these efforts include: 233 employer partnerships established, 4,790 workers trained and/or served, $9.8 million invested in workforce development, 7,404 certifications earned and 1,369 new jobs created by funded employers.

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