CareerEdge Hires Kempton Research and Planning to Launch Manufacturing Skills Gap Study

Sarasota, Fla. (June 7, 2021) – CareerEdge, the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce workforce initiative, has hired Kempton Research and Planning to perform a Manufacturing Skills Gap Study, similar to the study that was spearheaded by CareerEdge in 2012.  At that time, there were 800 manufacturing companies located in this region. Currently, sources show 900 companies or more. CareerEdge, working with its community partners, is seeking to understand and quantify the skill gap for manufacturing jobs in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

“Nine years ago, CareerEdge’s Manufacturing Skill Gap Study resulted in Suncoast Technical College establishing a CNC Machining program.  Just like our first study, we will rely on our local manufacturing companies to participate by responding to the survey and validating the data. This feedback is essential to the success of our study,” said Jennifer Behrens, CareerEdge manufacturing council chair and owner of Atlantic Mold.

CareerEdge wants to specifically identify the jobs and skills manufacturers are lacking as they seek to grow their companies. This data will then be compared to training resources currently available in the region to identify whether training exists and if not, what must be changed or added for training partners to help manufacturers fill the skill gap, hire employees, and grow their companies.

“With our region’s continued growth in the manufacturing sector and the ever-evolving workforce climate, launching this skill gap study is critical to evaluate how we can move forward with a plan that will support local manufacturing companies as well as our workforce,” said Kristi Hoskinson, Vice President, CareerEdge.

To participate in the upcoming manufacturing skill gap study or find out more email: or

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Hires Kristi Hoskinson to Lead CareerEdge as Vice President

SARASOTA, Fla. (June 2, 2021) — The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce that Kristi Hoskinson has been selected to lead the CareerEdge initiative as their new Vice President. 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. CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is the workforce development initiative of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce. At the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, we understand that one of the biggest challenges that our local businesses face is attracting and retaining talent. CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is guided by a demand-driven strategy and enhances the regional workforce through Fast-Track training, on-the-job training, internship reimbursement programs, and employer funding to up-skill employees.
With over 20 years of experience as a recognized leader in the workplace and community, Kristi has successfully lead people and teams to organizational excellence. She has experience as an entrepreneur and with working with large corporations, which gives her a unique perspective of working with our employers of all shapes and sizes.
Kristi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Health from Eastern Oregon University. She also holds a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) designation from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) and is a long-standing, proud member of SHRA – Sarasota/ Manatee’s local SHRM chapter.

“Workforce issues will continue to be at the forefront of employer needs. We could not be more thrilled to have Kristi on the Chamber team to champion this important role leading workforce solutions for our Chamber and community. CareerEdge has served thousands of workers in our region, and I am confident that Kristi’s diverse background and experience will build upon the 10+ years of good work that has been accomplished through CareerEdge,” Heather Kasten, President/CEO.
For more information or to learn more about the CareerEdge initiative, please reach out to

Workforce Resource Map V2 Supports Local Employers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.– (April 16, 2019)— The Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC) released the 2.0 version of its digital workforce platform, Workforce Resource Map with significant enhancements to better meet the needs of growing businesses in St. Petersburg. The platform, created in partnership with CareerEdge in December 2018, showcases a comprehensive listing of workforce-related resources and programs available to employers in the greater St. Petersburg area.
“We wanted to create a place where local employers could quickly and easily navigate through the many resources available to them that will ultimately grow jobs in our community,” J.P. DuBuque, President of the Greater St. Petersburg Area EDC said. “It remains a top priority for the EDC to not only bring new businesses to the area, but to also ensure we are supporting the growth and success of the companies already here.”

The EDC convened an extensive review session of the site with community members and human resource professionals who provided feedback for site improvements, that have since been incorporated in the Workforce Resource Map 2.0. New features include:
– Improved navigation
– Search functionality
– Filterable skill set options
– Case studies and testimonials from local employers
– Additional programs and resources

Announcing Newtown HVAC Fast-Track Training

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 3, 2019) – The first Newtown HVAC Fast-Track Training program has been unanimously approved by the City Commission. This program is the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce’s latest workforce initiative, led by CareerEdge Funder’s Collaborative. The introduction of this program reflects our continued work in bringing training programs to the local region that create opportunities for our community. The program expands upon Walt Eppard’s initial vision, which fueled the first HVAC Fast-Track Training in January.


With a focus on HVAC maintenance, this Fast-Track Training equips the 12 program participants with the skills needed to enter into an in-demand career path with the opportunity for growth and personal success.  By the completion of the program, participants will also have obtained their OSHA and EPA certifications.


This program is the result of successful collaboration across industries and expertise with the Argus Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County, the City of Sarasota, Cool Today and the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange and community members.

Local Organizations Convene for Experience Engineering Luncheon for Student Education

SARASOTA, Fla. (February 25, 2019) —A diverse group of nearly 140 juniors and seniors from Sarasota County schools and 40 engineers from 15 different local companies met last Friday for the 2019 Experience Engineering Luncheon at the Suncoast Technical College (STC) Main Campus Conference Center. Attending engineers and students toured the STC facility and engaged in roundtable discussions, allowing students to gain insight into the many engineering opportunities in the Sarasota area.

This event reflects an extraordinary collaborative effort between four organizations of different areas of expertise: the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce (GSCC), in convening employers; the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at the University of Florida, in engineering; CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, in creating career awareness and Sarasota County Schools Career and Technical Education (CTE), in bringing together a diverse of group of students.

Mireya Eavey, the Chief Workforce Officer with the GSCC, described how excited the GSCC and CareerEdge Funders Collaborative are to help facilitate a successful Experience Engineering Luncheon, saying “having four organizations come together to plan and execute this annual event shows the commitment to creating career awareness for our local high school students.”

These thoughts were echoed by many of the employers in attendance, including PGT Innovations. “We’re so pleased that our PGT Innovations’ engineers were invited to participate in the recent Experience Engineering event with the GSCC and the CareerEdge Funders Collaborative,” said Danielle Mikesell, a Senior Vice President of PGT Innovations and a Sarasota Chamber of Commerce board member. “We applaud these two organizations for creating an event that connects students with employers. Sarasota County is home to our corporate headquarters, and we are deeply committed to collaborating with community partners to help shape the future of its workforce by inspiring the minds of our youth.”

STC culinary students were also involved by providing lunch for the event.

“The opportunity was so unique because there were so many different types of engineers to connect with,” said Ava Plank, a junior at Sarasota High. “I really appreciated the advice about how to get an internship and how to get hired.”

STEM oriented students familiar with the robust employment opportunities in our region. This program connects local, practicing engineers with high school students considering a future in engineering.”

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Sarasota County Program Achieves Milestone in Worker Training and Job Placement

In June 2018, Sarasota County’s Precision Machining Program at Suncoast Technical College completed its fifth program year by graduating 13 new machinists. The occasion was marked with a celebration as those graduates brought the program’s five-year total to 102 skilled workers having been trained locally. Also, the program led the state in National Institute of Metalworking Skills manufacturing certifications with 358 completed and a 96% job placement rate after graduation.

These results are attributable to the trailblazing efforts made by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and its partners to start this forward-thinking initiative. Sarasota County Government and the Sarasota County School District agreed to support the concept and established a goal to graduate 100 individuals from the program by the fifth year. Funding for the program’s equipment, which totaled $325,000, was provided by Sarasota County Government and CareerEdge supported the establishment of the program with $25,000 and additional funding for internships. In August 2013, the first Precision Machining program began at Suncoast Technical College and the newest class will start on August 13, 2018 with 18 machinists

Through these efforts, the program has proven to be prosperous, with much credit to a very committed and skilled instructor, Edward Doherty, who continues to lead the program to success and longevity. Students enrolled in the program take part in the year-long training, with hands-on experience, to attain the credentials. Students then enter a career with an average wage of $15.00 an hour, plus benefits, and the potential for future growth.

“There was a need for these workers, and it was our chance as advocates for this community to step in and support the growth of new long-term careers,” says Jeff Maultsby, Director of the Office of Business and Economic Development. “The CareerEdge study opened many eyes to these workforce challenges and allowed change and improvements to be made.”


“This program has allowed us to establish a pipeline of workers that start in entry-level positions and then continue to up-skill and move up in a career with huge growth potential.  It is an achievement to have these skilled workers available in our community,” says Bayne Beecher, President of the Sarasota-Manatee Manufacturers Association Board and Production Control Manager at PGT Industries.

“With the addition of the Precision Machining Program, there is now a labor pipeline of skilled workers in our region.  Even with such a large accomplishment, the problem is far from solved, and machinists are still in demand by manufacturing employers,” says Mireya Eavey, Chief Workforce Strategist, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.

Due to the success of the program, the college will be offering an Advanced Manufacturing Program that will allow prior graduates to continue their education and career ladder to other positions within the industry.

For more information on registering for the next class please contact student services at (941) 924-1365 x62283.

June 2018 graduation of precision machinists

Confronting Leadership Challenges with Cutting-Edge Training

Sarasota, FL.: People can experience many changes in a career, including a promotion into a leadership role.  Without proper training or preparation, employees are often thrust into management positions resulting in higher turnover and organizational instability. CareerEdge has supported leader training in the healthcare sector with much success for the last four years.  Recently, manufacturers asked for assistance in developing their own new leaders and building a stable workforce.  With input from these employer partners, CareerEdge developed a pilot consortium training for “Emerging Leaders” in the industry.

The manufacturing training launched in May 2018 with two separate classes in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Already employers are sharing the positive impact the class has had on their organization.

In a growing industry, often people are promoted without the proper soft skills to lead. After sending some of our team members to the Emerging Leaders class, we have been pleased to see them honing new skills in communication, management and other techniques,” shares Gina Burwood, Human Resource Manager for Pierce Manufacturing.

The program was delivered by trainer Lori Ann Roth, President of LARG (Learning and Reflective Growth) and included team building, personality differences, communication styles, conflict resolution and exploration of individual strengths. After completing the class, participants rated the program 4.83 on a 5-point scale and 100% would recommend the class to others.  With these encouraging outcomes, many of the manufacturing employers are planning to start their own leadership trainings to better their company culture and inspire workers.

It is so important to develop workers into leaders as they career-ladder and up-skill within an organization.  Giving employees the resources and tools they need to succeed will ultimately lead to further success for the entire organization,” explains Mireya Eavey, Chief Workforce Strategist for the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge Funders Collaborative.

PGT Industries and Pierce Manufacturing hosted the CareerEdge-funded course and 50 individuals from 17 local manufacturing employers participated in the opportunity. Employers included: Atlantic Mold and Machining, Ergotronix, Inc., KHS USA, Inc., Pierce Manufacturing,  RND Automation & Engineering, Safran Electrical & Power, Air Products and Chemicals, Osprey Biotechnics, Berry Global, PGT Industries, Tervis, ALLIEDFLEX Technologies, Inc., Enzymedica, Quality Enclosures, Sterling Manufacturing, Adams Group and Trident Building Systems.

CareerEdge has helped employers to see the correlation between quality of leadership and employee satisfaction, as well as bottom-line impacts.  Research has shown that supervisors that establish high levels of meaningful interaction and support for their subordinates will increase employee productivity. Leadership training is just one opportunity that leads to growth and advancement, which directly affects an organization’s long-term success.



Local Employers Make the Largest Commitment to Workforce Development in CareerEdge History

Sarasota FL (April 25, 2017): As part of its employer partnership model, CareerEdge provides incumbent worker training grants for its employer partners. The companies are also encouraged to leverage these funds and put forth their own dollars to up-skill their workers. In 2017, CareerEdge saw the largest workforce development investment by employers in its history for employee trainings and programs. CareerEdge invested over $320,000 in incumbent worker, job seeker and internship training programs, while organizations financed almost $1,300,000. This increase illustrates a major cultural shift by these companies and their acknowledgment of the need to fill skills-gaps by training and supporting credential attainment in the workplace.

In workforce development there is a constant need to stay ahead of the curve. CareerEdge Funders Collaborative focuses on doing just that by being a convener for industry leaders, employers and community partners. In 2017, CareerEdge reached several milestones for its investments in the training of incumbent workers and job seekers for our region. These findings can be seen in the 2017 CareerEdge Evaluator Report, which was completed by a third-party evaluator, Shelley Robertson of Robertson Consulting Group Inc., to share with funders, workforce partners and the community.

Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Debbie LaPinska, of PGT Innovations, “Working with CareerEdge has helped PGT Innovations add more extensive training and development programs to our company. The grant dollars have guided us to find more opportunities for our team members with career pathing and development of new skills.”

Another noteworthy component in the report are the raises and career-laddering opportunities that employers are giving to their staff members after they complete their trainings. This past year, 404 employees were trained through CareerEdge incumbent worker training grants, of which 39% had participated in prior trainings. Meaning that individuals are not remaining stagnant after training but are continuing to move-up and gain skills within the company. On average, individuals earned an 8% wage increase within two years of training, and 195 received promotions.

“Employers are continuing to see the importance of investing in their workers and the benefits it has for the organization and employee retention. To see employers so steadfast in the training of our workforce shows the impact we are having by our persistency in helping to close skills-gaps.” explains Mireya Eavey, Executive Director of CareerEdge Funders Collaborative.

The evaluator also highlighted some transformations within CareerEdge programs. For example, there was a shift to serving the young adult sector. This was seen in the development of a pilot program called Career Quest, which focuses on connecting low income high school juniors to career exploration opportunities and an introduction to savings and financial management. Also in 2017, the organization worked with educators to create express training programs that are helping students to enter the workforce quicker with industry-valued credentials. CareerEdge invested in these innovative job-seeker strategies and training programs to respond to local talent development needs.

“CareerEdge continues to evolve to meet the challenges in our regional workforce,” said Jon Thaxton, Senior Vice President for Community Investment at Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which is one of the original funders of CareerEdge and serves as its fiscal agent. “From reviewing this report, it is clear that the impact of CareerEdge goes well beyond its training grants for employers. It also serves as a valuable resource and advocate for these organizations as well as for job-seekers in our community.”

CareerEdge will now use these successes and lessons presented in the report to further improve training strategies, employer partnerships and program structure. The organization will also be bringing these techniques and practices to a new partnership with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce in June 2018. With a mindset of bettering the workforce and the community, CareerEdge will continue to implement programs and trainings that meet industry and employer demands.



For Third Straight Year, Sarasota County Schools Lead State in Pell Grant Pursuit

SARASOTA, Fla. (April 12, 2018) — The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership, a collective impact team of local organizations focused on increasing college and credential attainment in Sarasota County, announces that the Sarasota County School District has been recognized as having the highest FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completion rate in the state, according to the Florida College Access Network (FCAN). This is the third year in a row that Sarasota County has been named number one in the state for “Large Districts” in FCAN’s annual Florida FAFSA Challenge.

Completing the FAFSA is the first step to accessing financial aid for college, as well as a leading indicator of college attendance. But research indicates that Florida high school graduates leave behind over $100 million in federal Pell Grants alone by not completing the form. Through targeted efforts developed by Talent4Tomorrow in partnership with the school district, 47.8% of Sarasota County high school seniors completed the FAFSA as of March 31, 2018. According to FCAN, the incremental increase in FAFSA completion over the last two years has resulted in approximately $800,000 in additional Pell grants available for Sarasota County graduates to pursue their higher-education goals, with the average student award approximately $4,000.

“The Talent4Tomorrow initiative demonstrates an example of a true collaboration between a broad-range of organizations coming together for a common goal – the future of our community’s youth.  The Chamber believes strongly in this alliance and the outcomes are a testament to the strength and commitment that the partners bring to the table,” said Kevin Cooper, President of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce which serves as the ‘backbone’ organization for Talent4Tomorrow.

The Talent4Tomorrow partners worked with the District to implement several strategies that assisted graduating high school seniors and their families with completing the financial aid form. Talent4Tomorrow hosted FAFSA labs at high schools, with support from local college financial aid officers and other community volunteers, to assist students and their parents in the application process.  It also implemented a communications plan to raise awareness about FAFSA that included flyers, text messages, emails, classroom visits, morning announcements, outreach to youth-serving partners and the faith-based community, press releases and social media posts.

The Partnership developed some new techniques this year, such as the innovative use of Snapchat geofilters, introduced by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative and piloted at Booker High School. A geofilter is similar to a frame or sticker that can go on a Snapchat photo and is shared with the user’s friends. An organization or individual pays to have the filter available in Snapchat for a specific location and period of time. With approval from the school, the electronic FAFSA lab filter was made available in the cafeteria for the students. On lab day alone, the filter was swiped by 367 students, and 64 of them posted these framed photos on their account, which resulted in 2,900 views of the FAFSA filter.

According to FCAN, Booker High School had the second highest completion rate improvement in the District compared to last year, with a 9% increase.  The Snapchat strategy was seen as a positive application of a platform used by students daily. The Talent4Tomorrow Partnership plans to expand the use of this social media tool next year and will continue to look for ways to engage and connect with students on the value of completing the FAFSA.

Support for these programs and events comes from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, with matching funds from the Florida Philanthropic Network through its College Access & Success Initiative (CASI), which is supported by the Helios Education Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

More information about FCAN and the FAFSA Challenge Winners is available here.





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Sarasota Herald Tribune

SRQ Magazine 

Gulf Coast Community Foundation

CareerEdge Partners with Employers for New Training Model

Sarasota FL (April 4, 2018): Nineteen individuals recently graduated from training programs developed by CareerEdge Funders Collaborative: 10 American Red Cross-trained Nurse Assistants and 9 Automotive Technicians from Suncoast Technical College. What makes these students different from those in traditional training programs is that each one was pre-screened and hired by an employer prior to starting their classes.

CareerEdge marketed these tuition-free training programs through multiple media channels, helping to drive candidates to employer application portals. All of the Nurse Assistant students were chosen by Tidewell Hospice for work at one of their facilities or at their home health agency, Approved Home Health. The Automotive Express students were hired by local dealerships: Gettel Automotive, Sunset Automotive, Toyota of Sarasota and Venice Honda prior to beginning the entry-level course.

The goal of these innovative educational programs is to engage employers in the talent identification process on the front end, while also offering individuals guaranteed employment once they complete the trainings.

The nursing program ran 4 nights per week for 7 weeks, while the twice a week evening automotive course was 11 weeks long. Both classes had 100% completion rates and provided graduates starting wages of $12 to $13 per hour.

Funding for the certification programs was made possible by Gulf Coast Community Foundation donors Walt and Renee Eppard who have taken a personal interest in helping these newly trained individuals succeed in their careers.

Developing skills and overcoming barriers to have a career with the potential for growth are high priorities for us. The reward of connecting directly with our students is inspiring and gratifying. A small investment can go a long way to changing the path of those willing to work for a better life for themselves and their families, explains donor Renee Eppard.

Students also received CareerEdge’s Bridges to Careers soft skills training in subjects such as Teamwork, Conflict Resolution, Professionalism and Stress Management. And they were offered a financial education class delivered by Manatee Community Federal Credit Union to help them learn about budgeting, credit and debt management.

Tidewell Chief Human Resources Officer Julie Schilson said, “We’ve worked with CareerEdge for several years, receiving grants for specialized training of our current nursing staff. We are thrilled to be partnering with them now on recruiting and developing new talent for our organization.”

The auto program was first piloted with Gettel Automotive last fall and has expanded to include additional dealerships in a second cohort. CareerEdge began the automotive program by hosting a roundtable of industry representatives and developed a plan based on their input.

CareerEdge will continue to work directly with employers to find solutions to their talent needs, and to encourage them to be active participants in the workforce development process.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation donor Walt Eppard speaks to the Automotive class graduates.

Suncoast Technical College Automotive graduates with instructor Mark Mullen.

Gulf Coast Community Foundation donors Walt and Renee Eppard hosted some of the Nursing Assistant students at the Tidewell Signature luncheon.

The first cohort of Tidewell Hospice Nursing Assistant graduates.