September 22, 2023

Florida Trend - Florida Business Guide - Workforce

A Ready, Responsive Workforce Partnership

Florida's coordinated system helps businesses meet their staffing needs.

From the moment Cardinal Glass announced in October 2005 that it would be constructing a $22 million plant in Marion County--and that the plant would eventually bring some 200 jobs at above-average wages to the area-- CLM Workforce Connection began gearing up to help.

CLM Workforce Connection is the local business-led workforce board that oversees the One Stop Workforce Connection offices in Citrus, Levy and Marion counties. Cardinal Glass, which is headquartered in Minnesota, had decided to build a plant in Ocala, in part, to be next door to one of its primary customers, Custom Window Systems. And since the Florida-based facility would be manufacturing a laminated glass that is hurricane impact resistant, Ocala's central location and proximity to major roadways made it the natural choice for the new Cardinal facility.

In preparation for a mid-August 2006 opening, the new Cardinal Glass plant would have to staff up. The plant superinten dent, plant manager and plant sales manager would come from existing Cardinal facilities. To fill the rest of the positions available --everything from production and maintenance staff to IT and quality assurance managers--company representatives turned to the One Stop Workforce Connection in Ocala for help in tapping into the local labor pool.

The first activity--a job fair which One Stop coordinated and staged at its Ocala office in November 2005--drew more than 100 people. Since then, on average, a couple dozen applications for jobs at Cardinal arrive each week. "We've had no trouble filling any positions," says Sonny Sagendorph, human resources manager, who was himself the first Ocala resident to be hired.

All of the applications are handled by One Stop Workforce Connection, where they are reviewed and processed and the applicants prescreened for a possible interview. Applicants who meet the criteria listed on the job orders that Cardinal has supplied to One Stop are sent on for interviews.

By late July, all of the 90 positions needed to get the plant up and running were filled. When fully operational, the number of employees will top out at around 200, and One Stop Workforce Connection will continue to handle the details for hiring all of them.

"You can't go wrong talking to a One- Stop Center," says Sagendorph. "Just to have someone gather the initial applications and prescreen the applicants saves a tremendous amount of time."

Cardinal Glass is one company that is reaping the benefits of tapping into Florida's comprehensive workforce system for help in finding skilled employees to meet specific needs.

A coordinated effort
All of Florida's workforce services-- state and local--are linked together under the umbrella brand "Employ Florida." The state partners in this coordinated effort are Workforce Florida, the state policy and oversight board, and the Agency for Workforce Innovation, which administers workforce funds, houses the office of Labor Market Statistics and serves as the designated Census data center for Florida. At the local level, 24 regional workforce boards oversee close to 100 One-Stop Centers. This coordinated effort makes it easy for businesses and job seekers alike to take advantage of the many workforce resources and services Florida has to offer.

Aetna Rx Home Delivery in Broward County is another company that has successfully tapped into Florida's workforce system.

When Aetna decided to locate a brand-new mail-order pharmacy in Pompano Beach, the Broward Alliance and WorkForce One teamed up to address Aetna's hiring needs.

WorkForce One is providing recruiting, prescreening and interview scheduling services at no cost to help Aetna fill close to 200 jobs before the end of 2006. The complete project, which includes customized training in addition to hiring services, will roll out in several stages over the next two years as Aetna works toward its goal of being fully staffed with as many as 800 employees by 2008.

Aetna chose Pompano Beach as the site of its second mail-order pharmacy, in part, because of its proximity to four pharmaceutical schools that could provide a ready pipeline of qualified workers. In addition to pharmacists, the company is hiring customer service and call representatives, as well as support staff to fill and ship prescriptions from its new $32 million, 112,000-square-foot facility.

Training resources
Businesses seeking workforce assistance will find more than hiring help in Florida. Employee training programs are available, too.

For example, Employed Worker Training (EWT) is a locally funded resource with guidelines established by each of Florida's 24 individual regional workforce boards. Businesses may use EWT to provide training to upgrade employee skills, which is exactly what Manchester Copper LLC in Brevard County did.

When Manchester Copper developed a new process for manufacturing copper tubing at its Rockledge plant, it soon became apparent that because this was a new technology, employees would need training in order to operate the newly developed manufacturing equipment required to carry out the process. Brevard Job Link assisted the company in securing a grant to train 25 employees, thus enhancing the skills of its workforce.

"By having a highly skilled and well-trained workforce," says James H. Burton, president of Manchester Copper, "we are better able to compete for business. As our company recently expanded, Brevard Job Link was able to help us offset the high expenses associated with enhancing the skills of our employees with the Employed Worker Training program."

Workforce Florida also offers two employer- specific customized training programs for expansion and/or retraining.

Quick Response Training (QRT), which provides grant funding for customized training for new or expanding businesses, emphasizes flexibility and quick response to help ensure that the training objectives of individual companies are met. Since its inception in 1993, QRT has provided customized training for more than 98,000 employees in some 422 companies throughout the state.

Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) is a program that provides training to currently employed workers to keep Florida's workforce competitive and to retain existing businesses. The program is available to Florida businesses that have been in operation for at least one year prior to application and require training for existing employees. Established in 1999, IWT has provided customized training for 65,600-plus employees at more than 590 businesses throughout Florida.

The federal government is also getting into the act of workforce training in Florida. A Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant, one of only 13 awarded nationwide early in 2006, has put new muscle into workforce training efforts in Florida's Northwest region. The threeyear, $15 million performance-based federal grant will fund job training for new and expanding businesses in aerospace, defense, life sciences, information technology, electronic engineering and construction services.

College connections
Florida's 28 community colleges have an important role to play in workforce training, too. In anticipation of high-tech growth and its incumbent workforce needs, new programs are already in place--and more are under development--to ensure that companies in key sector industries such as life sciences, biotechnology, information technology, aviation/aerospace and manufacturing can continue to address their employment needs.

In addition, several Florida community colleges are slated to receive more than $11 million in grants as part of President Bush's Community- Based Job Training Initiative. "This additional funding will provide more Floridians with access to job training, strengthening the role of these colleges in our communities and promoting the full potential of our workforce," says Gov. Jeb Bush.

For More Info

Workforce Florida Inc.
(850) 921-1119

Community Colleges/Workforce

Resources at the Local Level

One-Stop Centers
Nearly 100 One-Stop Centers are in place statewide to provide employers and job seekers alike with a variety of services--many of which are free of charge. And staff members at the One-Stop Centers are trained to answer your workforce questions.

Local level workforce assistance includes:

  • Applicant prescreening and job referrals
  • Recruitment and retention services
  • Employee skills information and services
  • Identification of and access to incentives, such as training grants
  • Labor market analysis and information
  • "Rapid response" services in the event of a ramp-up or reduction in workforce

One-Stop Centers
All of Florida's state and local workforce services are easy to access online at

With the click of a mouse, job seekers and employers can easily locate the nearest One-Stop Center at the Employ Florida website. Another click puts users in touch with employment and recruitment options at the Employ Florida Marketplace.

Designed for employers, job seekers, students, training providers, workforce customer service representatives and professionals, the Employ Florida Marketplace is an easy-to-use yet powerful starting point for employment and hiring in Florida.

Employ Florida Marketplace online tools allow users to:

  • Define skills and post job orders to find potential job candidates
  • Research labor market information on salaries and economic data
  • Set up a virtual recruiter search agent to automatically find candidates within the system that match the job skills of the job order
  • Communicate with job seekers, workforce customer service providers and others using the system's e-mail and message center

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