Last week, 130 job-seekers and students stepped through the doors of Manatee Technical College in hopes of discovering a future in manufacturing. Some were looking to begin or advance their careers; some were looking to change careers; others were simply looking for a job because right now they don’t have one.
Putting employers and job-seekers in one room is a no-brainer. But what actually gets the two connected and how can we make sure it results in someone finding work? What are these employers actually looking for?
Spanning across industries, local educational institutions are meeting with employers to discover what makes them tick. Recently, Manatee Technical College found out local marine hardware manufacturer G.G. Schmitt & Sons was having difficulty finding candidates who have the skills to use its machinery.
“We connected with this company and toured their facility. We found out that they are using specialized equipment and aren’t having luck finding people who know how to use it,” said Martha Meyers, business and industry services coordinator with MTC. “After researching the equipment and finding out that other companies use it as well, MTC was able to purchase that equipment and incorporate it in the curriculum.”
Several months ago, CareerSource Suncoast’s Skills Council conducted a survey of the local construction industry to find out the skill gaps struggles employers experience. As a result, a nine-week, fast-track construction and carpentry course was born that will enable job-seekers to learn the basic skills they need to be placed into an entry-level job. Two years ago, a similar effort led by CareerEdge helped to create the precision machining course at the now Suncoast Technical College. Working in tandem with the school, CareerSource Suncoast has been able to place grad
uates of the 1-year program earning more than $30,000. By working hand-in-hand with employers, those folks will continue to be trained on the job and have the opportunity to advance their career as their skills improve.
By connecting with local businesses, our educational institutions are able to learn what types of skills the industries are asking for, and how they can mirror that in the classroom. In replicating equipment and processes, students are being trained to learn the exact skills required.
Our partners at CareerEdge have funding up to $1,000 per person for internships and, through collaboration with CareerSource Suncoast and other community partners, are working to connect students and employers. Individuals are placed in a career, and the business gains what it needs to conduct daily operations. It’s a win-win.
In order to move forward with finding people work, collaboration is key. We must focus on the entire ecosystem of our community, not just one organization or program at a time.
We can hold job fairs and sit employers behind nicely skirted tables and encourage them to hand out swag while job-seekers line up to speak with them. But true collaboration will ensure those folks walking through the doors of a job fair with hope in their eyes will actually receive a job offer, or a maybe even a chance at a new life.
Together we can create more than we ever could on our own. It’s a simple concept, and if we continue to cultivate relationships, it will yield vast success for job-seekers and businesses alike.
Ted Ehrlichman, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, writes about workforce issues across the region.