Congratulations Manatee County! The referendum to support Manatee County Schools passed by a wide margin! This is good for the community, the educators and the students! There are many reasons a strong educational system is good for the community, but it is also a necessity for strong economic development. We need an educated and trained workforce for economic development.
Now let’s repeat this victory for Sarasota County Schools in March of 2022! For all the same reasons, and also because we are one MSA and one region. We must realize that and focus on a thriving, robust and sustainable region.
An educated and well trained workforce is critical to the local economy. Currently, labor shortages compounded by supply chain issues are having a huge impact on the local commercial contracting industry.
Plenty of jobs are available in the trades and as project managers and superintendents with General Contracting firms.
Training and employment in the trades offers a route to financial security and the American Dream.
I’m reminded of the recent story of a young man who was laid off during the pandemic. He applied to CareerEdge Funders Collaborative (part of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce) to participate in the HVAC Express Program offered at Sarasota Technical College. Throughout his three month training he was mentored by veterans in the field. He developed interview and professional skills for employment and upon graduation was immediately offered a job. From when he first stepped foot in the training program in January of 2021 to September of 2021 he worked his way to $20.00/hour with time and a half for overtime and double time when on call. His self-confidence and pride have gone through the roof. He and his wife will be closing on their first home in 6 days. He is making his American Dream a reality!
This type of story isn’t just important for the Construction Industry, it’s important for the community. We need more stories like this in the community. Locally, both the Manatee and Sarasota County School Boards understand the importance of workforce training. We are also fortunate to live in a very generous community where programs like CareerEdge receive funding from private donors and foundations.
Unfortunately, funding at the State level has not kept up with the demand for workforce training. In the four (4) years from 2017 to 2021 there was a 42% increase in enrollment in programs at the Sarasota Technical Institute, but State funding in the same timeframe only increased 15.8%.
Funding allocations in Tallahassee can be complex and confusing. It’s particularly confusing when some counties receive over 100% of their funding needs, while other counties like Sarasota only receive 83.5%.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that we take from some counties to support others. On the contrary, I’m suggesting that we take a sharp look at the funding and make it a priority to fund at least 100% of the funding needs for all of Florida’s 67 counties! These programs change lives. These programs help build communities and support economic development. Let’s hope this legislative session, there will be an emphasis on finding the funds necessary to ensure the success of these programs and their participants.
If you know someone who could benefit from the programs offered at CareerEdge they can be contacted at 941-556-4045.