October 19, 2021

Florida colleges team up with national nonprofit to help displaced frontline workforce get back to work

Ambitious initiative led by SkillUp Coalition is creating new pathways to economic mobility for Central Florida workers affected by COVID-19

| 5/5/2021

Across Central Florida, workers and job-seekers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have a new, free resource to access job training and career opportunities, thanks to a partnership announced today between four state colleges, the Florida Department of Education, and the national nonprofit SkillUp Coalition. An ambitious partnership of education and providers, employers, and community-based organizations backed by major workforce nonprofits and philanthropies, SkillUp Florida will bring sophisticated labor market analytics and personalized coaching to bear on creating new pathways to opportunity for workers throughout the region.

"The past year has exposed just how urgent the need is to help more Floridians prepare for resilient careers," said Henry Mack, Chancellor for Career and Adult Education at the Florida Department of Education. "We'll continue to feel the economic aftershocks of the pandemic for years to come -- which means we have to meet workers and job-seekers where they are to help them navigate an increasingly dynamic world of work."

As the country charts a path to economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic, more than 500,000 jobs in Florida have yet to return -- most of them frontline roles in fields like retail, hospitality, and tourism. Designed to address the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable communities in the American workforce, the SkillUp Coalition works with local organizations around the country to create new pathways to economic mobility for the millions of Americans whose livelihoods are still being affected by the pandemic. The SkillUp Florida partnership builds on Get There, the Florida Department of Education's statewide workforce education initiative, aimed at raising awareness of quality, in-demand career and technical education programs available at Florida College System institutions and technical colleges.

"While the country's continued uptick in vaccinations is promising, we still have a long road ahead in our efforts to ensure an equitable recovery," said Steve Lee, Executive Director of the SkillUp Coalition. "By teaming up with the colleges and policymakers who have been at the forefront of Florida's response to the pandemic, we're helping workers across the state recover stronger."

With support from national nonprofits including Jobs for the Future, the SkillUp app helps frontline workers select and prepare for career paths that align with the economy of the future by targeting sectors that are expected to grow significantly in the coming years such as health care, technology, skilled trades, and logistics. SkillUp uses a four-part approach:

  • Career navigation: Technology-enabled tools and coaches to guide displaced workers in choosing a career path aligned with rapidly changing labor market needs.
  • Training programs: Access to education and training programs that match displaced workers' career goals and provide financial support to cover tuition costs.
  • Job opportunities: Matched to workers' career aspirations and regional and local labor market demand.
  • Coaching and Support: Helping workers navigate the financial and emotional challenges that often prevent them from completing their training and finding work.

"Once-in-a-lifetime challenges require partnership and collaboration -- between education providers, employers, policymakers, and advocates," said Dr. Tom LoBasso, President of Daytona State College. "We're proud to join this group of forward-thinking organizations working to help learners across the state connect to new career paths, at a time when fresh approaches to economic mobility have never been more important."

"Investing in our residents who are most affected by the pandemic and getting them back to work as quickly as possible is paramount," says Indian River State College President Dr. Timothy Moore. "IRSC proudly and fully supports the SkillUp Coalition by offering fast-track programs and job placement assistance to those who need it most. We aim to help our citizens and businesses get their footing back today and thrive in a post-pandemic world."

"As part of the Florida College System, Seminole State College of Florida has always been a champion of workforce education," said Seminole State President Dr. Georgia L. Lorenz. "We are proud to collaborate with SkillUp and other FCS colleges to offer programs that put students on a path to high-paying, in-demand careers."

"Valencia College is excited to participate in the SkillUp initiative," said Joe Battista, vice president of global, professional and continuing education for Valencia College. "Valencia has been focusing on technical certificates and accelerated skills training programs for a number of years. This initiative provides an excellent channel of communication to inform our community of the benefits of earning recognized industry certifications and the employment opportunities that exist."

Workers and job-seekers across Central Florida can learn more about SkillUp and access career navigation resources at skillup.org/florida. If you're a training provider, employer, technology & service provider, or nonprofit interested in joining the Coalition, please visit skillup.org/partners/.

About the SkillUp Coalition
SkillUp, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit coalition, is helping the more than 40 million workers impacted by COVID-19 get rehired for in-demand jobs in high-growth industries. The Coalition also enables partners to share best practices, collaborate on shared challenges, and participate in public engagement campaigns that help COVID-affected workers begin a prosperous new stage in their careers. Consisting of leading training and education providers, employers, technology developers, and job readiness nonprofits, SkillUp provides career navigation, training programs, and job opportunities to help frontline workers secure their place in the economy of tomorrow. For more information, please visit www.skillup.org.

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