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Trendsetters - April 2005 - PEOPLE POWER

Before Scripps' move into Florida was announced, Debora Kerr, director of resource development, Workforce Alliance, West Palm Beach, got the idea of retraining holders of bachelor's degrees in math and science fields that were facing declines. With the help of Florida Atlantic University professors Gary Parry and Leslie Terry, Kerr landed a $2.3-million grant from the President's High Growth Jobs Training Initiative to train 110 people. The first 17 began studies in January and include a Cuba-educated master's holder working as a custodian. FAU provides the instruction. The top 10 students go on to advanced lab work at Scripps...

Jacksonville native Thomas F. "Rusty" Skinner, 57, executive vice president of the Citrus Levy Marion Regional Workforce Development Board, has helped the organization to top-level honors from the National Association of Workforce Boards, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies and the federal Department of Labor for innovative partnerships with economic developers and educators and service-oriented approaches. Lately his board has worked to find human resources retirees to do on-campus recruiting for a nominal fee for area employers trying to tap entry-level college talent...

Timothy Sirdevan, 37, University of Florida grad and human resources manager at Home Depot in Tallahassee, played a key role in a "Hire a Vet" job fair in October and worked with non-profit KABOOM in organizing 200 store employees to build a massive playground at Emergency Care Help Organization's Bethany Family Apartments, a shelter for homeless families with children...

Rob Cowan, 50, human resources manager in Tallahassee for General Dynamics Land Systems, pushed for a plant schedule change to four nine-hour days, a fifth eight-hour day and then a four-day week of nine hour days. Called 9/80, it means every payday starts a three-day weekend at the 400-employee plant. "Our efficiencies went up dramatically," Cowan says.