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Workforce development initiative reports $2.7M impact in Sarasota

CareerEdge helps provide workforce development opportunities for positions from certified nursing assistants to marine technicians to construction workers.
CareerEdge helps provide workforce development opportunities for positions from certified nursing assistants to marine technicians to construction workers.
Image via CareerEdge / Facebook
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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A woman with no driver’s license and no car turned to a workforce development program in Sarasota for help. She had a job at a fast food restaurant and took public transportation or a scooter to get there.

After receiving weeks of automotive training through CareerEdge’s Bridges to Careers Fast Track program, her life changed.

“Since the program, she’s got a great job with benefits, paid time off, and she’s been able to save up and buy her own car,” CareerEdge Manager Kevin Golumbeck says in an interview with the Business Observer. “She’s been able to transfer the knowledge that she has gained to her children.”

The woman was among 461 workers who received training through CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, an initiative of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce that helps workers in the Sarasota-Manatee area access training, through its various programs in 2023.

Those enrolled in all of the CareerEdge programs in 2023 made $1.79 million in increased earnings, resulting in a $2.7 million economic impact, based on a formula through the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Workers enrolled in the Bridges to Careers Fast Track program alone started out making $11.28 an hour and ended up making $18.15 an hour after their training, according to a report detailing CareerEdge's impact in 2023. The fast-track program helps provide an on-ramp to a career like being a certified nursing assistant or a marine technician in six to 12 weeks.

Other programs through CareerEdge include paid internships and the Upskilling Workers program.

CareerEdge’s most popular offering — the Upskilling Workers program — provides grants from $10,000 to $50,000 to eligible businesses to implement training programs for their staff that are up to 18 months long. 

Some workers in the Upskilling Workers program have come from Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sidler says. They may train to be certified nursing assistants while working in the cafeteria or as safety officers at the hospital.

Employers customize the upskilling training to include soft skills like communication and stress management as well as technical skills required for a particular job.

To be eligible, businesses must be chamber members in a targeted industry. Current target industries include manufacturing, insurance, health care, skilled trades and automotive. Insurance was added recently as a targeted industry because “there is going to be a real need” due to the aging workforce, according to Vice President of CareerEdge and Economic Development Dan Sidler.

In 2023, CareerEdge's Upskilling Workers program helped 326 workers increase their skill sets. The workers obtained 238 certifications, with welding and leadership making up more than 60%. Leadership is increasing in popularity as employers seek to fill middle management positions, according to Sidler. Certified nursing assistant programs and construction trade skills were also popular.

As a result of upskilling, there was an average increase of $1.65 in wages, according to CareerEdge, which reports the starting wage of participants was $27.21 an hour and ending wage was $28.86 an hour.

People of all ages participate in the CareerEdge programs, from young people who need an on-ramp to a career to older adults looking to shift paths, according to Golumbeck. All of it is paid for through grants from public and private partnerships, primarily through private funding from organizations like the Gulf Coast Community Association, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and others.

In all, $1.3 million was invested through private and public funding to train employees through the Upskilling Workers program in 2023, according to the report detailing CareerEdge's impact.

“It’s such a unique program to have this available,” Golumbeck says. “We’re thankful to our funders for that and to the community at large to be willing to invest in their staff members and take on individuals who have gone through [CareerEdge training]."

“What hits home is the individual stories of people getting their start,” says Sidler. “We’re so proud of our participants.”



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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