Workforce development creates economic impact in community

Knight Foundation supports CareerEdge, a site of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, to strengthen and expand high-impact workforce development initiatives. It efforts are aimed at helping move low-wage workers into higher-paying jobs in Florida’s Manatee-Sarasota regionJennifer Carp, senior program director at CareerEdge, writes about the impact of the project’s first year. Above from (l) to (r) Cynetra Freeman, Felicia Hammonds, participants of the Bridges to Careers program, and Sandy Bond, a mentor from the Sarasota RSVP Program with the Senior Friendship Center of Sarasota. Photo Credit: Jessica Ruter.

CareerEdge, a public-private entity that seeks to diminish skill gaps through a localized approached to decrease unemployment, has made significant strides in its first 14 months of operations.   More than 1,400 people received training that resulted in an economic impact of $8.5 million dollars in wages for the Sarasota and Bradenton region. Our significant gains in workforce development were recently covered in Florida Trend magazine. The article notes:

“On the demand side, [CareerEdge] — funded by local businesses, foundation grants and charitable support — is playing an economic development role. When it appeared, for example, that Sarasota County’s offer of $400,000 in incentives might not be enough to keep a Health Management Associates central business office in Venice, CareerEdge sweetened the pot with an offer of $100,000 worth of job training for Health Management employees. The package ultimately helped preserve 148 jobs in the county with the company promising to add 217 more over the next two years.”

The efforts are aimed at helping employers find the qualified and skilled workers they need, when they need them. To do so, we work in collaboration with all workforce entities to streamline communication, resources and efforts as a way to enable a more efficient and competitive workforce system. Since Knight’s initial $1 million investment in CareerEdge two years ago, which gave the organization the launching pad it needed to get up and running, we’ve raised over $4 million. Taking a sector-based approach, our first year was focused in healthcare. Now, we are branching into manufacturing and also looking at the financial services sector for the next workforce partnerships. Our direction toward sectors and industries is driven by labor market analysis that supports areas of the region where there is current or projected job growth and debilitating skill gaps in the workforce. Our goal is that the model of breaking workforce silos to create a workforce plan for a given region will become sustainable for our community and eventually our state. We want to get people back to work earning family-sustaining wages and get our employers the skilled talent they need to maintain a competitive edge in their given market. To enable sustainability and spur workforce systems that have become stagnant, we are also embarking on public policy initiatives to shape up workforce development activities from the federal, state and local levels. A public policy paper, commissioned by Gulf Coast Community Foundation focuses on how CareerEdge could be replicated throughout Florida. We anticipate this project will gain legs in the coming year. Learn more about CareerEdge by following us on Facebook and Twitter.