In a Nutshell: CareerSource Central Florida offers training, resources, and guidance for people seeking new career paths and higher incomes. The organization connects job seekers to opportunities that fit their skills and personal goals, and it funds training at no cost to the individual through scholarships. The organization strives to help workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic reclaim their financial independence.
Florida ranked fourth-highest in the nation in the number of new weekly unemployment claims during a week in October 2020, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Central Florida counties were among the hardest hit, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 252,551 claims filed in Orange County, 81,233 claims in Osceola County, and 59,291 claims filed in Volusia County.
Although businesses were open, health guidelines restricted the number of customers establishments could serve. With fewer customers, companies needed fewer employees than usual. That situation hit the hospitality industry especially hard, as tourists are no longer flocking to Florida’s beaches and amusement parks, substantially reducing demand for food, accommodations, transportation, and entertainment.
That is bad news for both businesses and employees. And with little or no income, workers may be experiencing a drastic increase in consumer debt. An article in the Orlando Business Journal reported that the city’s total consumer credit card debt stood at $1.2 billion in July 2020, about $10,475 per household.
In times like these, workers may seek alternate career paths and opportunities in new industries to improve their financial situations. And many in the Sunshine State turn to CareerSource Central Florida for help igniting passion along their journey.
CareerSource Central Florida is a public-private nonprofit organization. It is one of 24 regional Florida workforce boards operating under the umbrella of CareerSource Florida.
CareerSource Central Florida serves Orange, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, and Sumter counties. It helps working age residents in the region achieve placement in high-growth industries, including healthcare, IT, finance, advanced manufacturing, trade and logistics, and construction.
“Our main mission is to connect Central Floridians to careers and help them advance their skills, learn more, and deliver that talent to businesses in the community,” said Lisa Burby, Vice President of Strategic Communications at CareerSource Central Florida. “We expose people to those particular career paths and help businesses fill open positions, get interns or even receive on the job training for their employees.”
Career Matching Connects Workers to Sustainable Jobs
As the name suggests, CareerSource Central Florida caters specifically to that region. However, its parent organization, CareerSource Florida and its other regional workforce boards, provides the same services for working age adults throughout Florida, ensuring the Sunshine State’s workers have access to the professional opportunities they need to maintain financial independence and avoid debt.
The majority of CareerSource Central Florida candidates have some college education — an AA, AS, or some form of certification. Others come to the service with a high school diploma and a desire to start a career without further education.
“In Central Florida, we work primarily with people who make less than $35,000 a year. Our goal is to ensure that we have everybody making at least $15 an hour or more,” Burby said. “They come to us because they’re looking to have a career that provides a more sustainable livelihood for themselves, and to learn more and grow in their career.”
Career seekers go through a consultation and receive an individualized plan that outlines their career goals and how they can achieve them. Then, CareerSource Central Florida develops a personalized career trajectory based on their fit within various growing industries.
For example, a hospitality worker with good social and customer service skills may be a good candidate for a career in the healthcare industry.
“Sometimes, it’s multiple industries that those skills can transfer to, and our job is to help them understand that career path’s potential,” Burby said. “We can tell them if the number of jobs will increase in the particular industry in the next five years. We can present the salary they can anticipate as they grow in the industry. A lot of people have no idea about a certain career because they’ve never heard of it, they’ve never been exposed to it, and that’s where we come in and fill that gap.”
No-Cost Training Builds In-Demand Professional Skills
CareerSource Central Florida offers training to prepare career seekers for new industries through its partnerships with education providers. Its partners include Valencia College, Seminole State College, Orange Technical College, and Lake Technical College as well as other training providers.
Training programs at those institutions would cost thousands of dollars — and perhaps lead to significant student debt. But Central Florida residents can qualify for free training through CareerSource Central Florida scholarships.
“We will pay or underwrite that amount for the individual, and it doesn’t cost them anything,” Burby said.
Scholarships are especially useful for people experiencing financial difficulties. They represent a cost-effective way to transition from welfare, supplemental nutrition assistance, and other programs and achieve financial independence.
CareerSource Central Florida also offers assistance with résumés, career coaching, career placement, and virtual workshops for those who are just trying to find a job and don’t need additional training. The organization can even provide stipends to help with interviewing expenses, including clothes and transportation.
CareerSource Central Florida also serves young adults in a year-round and summer youth program for ages ranging from 15 to 24. The youth services they provide can help young people earn their GED, if necessary, and enter a sustainable career. The program’s summer session offers three tracks: Experience which enables young adults to get an internship, Explore, which gives them an introduction to college, and Accelerate that drives them toward an apprenticeship and/or a permanent job.
“Our primary mission is to help people get more skills, find jobs, and to get businesses the right talent,” Burby said. “We want to be the matchmaker that develops strong relationships with all of our customers so we can follow along and support the career journey or business needs.”
Grants and Government Funding Foster Financial Mobility
Businesses help CareerSource Central Florida through grants that fund particular programs. But the bulk of its funding — approximately $31 million each year — comes from state and federal funding.
“When people come in, they may need to meet certain criteria for us to provide scholarships and other financial support for things such as transportation or clothing,” Burby said.
The organization must spend a certain percentage of its $31 million funding on training, youth services, and programs for dislocated workers who have lost their jobs and are currently unemployed. It also sets money aside for adults in poverty.
“Our goal is really to get them to that middle skill level so they can get off of government support and achieve a sustainable livelihood,” Burby said.
CareerSource Central Florida received an additional $7 million from Orange County’s CARES Act funding to assist in its COVID-19 pandemic relief efforts. Participants in the Help is Here Program can receive that individualized support to advance their skills and get a job. Thanks to Orange County, CareerSource Central Florida received even more funds enabling them to provide $125 per week stipends for those who qualify and are enrolled in Valencia College training programs held at the Orange County Convention Center beginning Nov. 30. this was helping ease the financial strain of preparing for a new career while earning income and avoiding debt as they took the short-term training courses.
“We’re specifically helping Orange County residents who have been impacted because of COVID-19, and we’re getting them short-term training classes, paid internships, and helping them find employment as quickly as possible,” Burby said. “We try to leave no stone unturned in terms of helping to meet the need that exists right now.”
CareerSource: Preparing Central Florida’s Workforce for a Changing Economy
CareerSource Central Florida continues to advance its mission through in-person and virtual consultations to help people find work at a time of widespread unemployment. Since July 2020, CareerSource Central Florida has served nearly 27,000 people — 4,70000 more than during the same time frame last year — many of whom lost their jobs in the tourism industry as the pandemic spread.
“Osceola County currently has the highest unemployment rate in Florida, and then Orange County is the third, and it’s only behind Miami Dade,” Burby said. “The hospitality industry has been the heaviest hit.”
The demand for hospitality workers has substantially decreased, so CareerSource Central Florida is helping them transition into new industries. As 2020 draws to a close, the organization sees a rise in demand for medical assistants and CNAs. Opportunities in transportation and logistics have also increased, including at UPS, for example.
“Right now, training in logistics is huge because there’s so much being transported through trucking and manufacturing,” Burby said. CareerSource Central Florida is actively helping people pivot to new job opportunities. “We’re helping them with certain things, including filing for unemployment, starting their career search, or helping them get into training programs so they can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”