FGCU enters partnership to fill vacant jobs in SWFL

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
A teacher in front of a classroom in Leon High School in Tallahassee. Credit: WINK news

Florida Gulf Coast University is partnering with the FutureMakers Coalition at the Collaboratory to use a $23 million grant from the U.S. government’s Good Jobs Challenge to fill as many job positions as they can in an effort to tackle the worker shortage.

WINK News spoke to the director of the FutureMakers Coalition, Tessa LeSage, who says this will be a three-year process that will focus on four different industries: health care, logistics, manufacturing and K-12 learning. They hope to place at least 1,700 people into jobs in those categories. The grant will be used to sharpen people’s skills so they are qualified to fill some of the vacant positions in health care and education.

LeSage says FGCU and FutureMakers are also focused on filling much-needed paraprofessional positions.

“The unemployment rate is actually pretty low in Southwest Florida, LeSage said. “But when you’re out and about talking to folks, they’re there, they consistently are talking about how difficult it is to find skilled workers. We know that in Florida, two out of every three jobs will require a credential beyond a high school diploma by 2025. And so that’s about 60%, at least, of the workforce that needs to have the skills to get into those into more skilled fields.”

LeSage says a lot of people face barriers when it comes to learning new skills and getting a job, but she’s confident this program will help fill many positions.

“We know health care and K-12 education are two places where there’s a tremendous shortage,” LeSage said. “We’ve known that for a while. And we have health care… some of those credentials are already rapid, and we’re able to get folks in and get them trained and into jobs; we’ll probably need to add some additional credentialing. K-12, we really want to focus on paraprofessionals and do that extra two years of training to get them their bachelor’s degree and get them into the classroom to address the teacher shortage.”

LeSage says FGCU and FutureMakers will be working with employers to figure out exactly which skills they are looking for to make sure people are properly trained and ready to work.

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