Apprenticeship program seeks low-income youths in Tampa, Hillsborough

CareerSource Tampa Bay is recruiting disadvantaged youths 18- to 24-years-old for a pilot apprenticeship program which will allow participants to earn $15 an hour while earning certification in their career field.

Dubbed the Apprenticeship-to-Career Empowerment (ACE) program, it is offering free training to qualified individuals, who must live in Hillsborough County and be authorized to work in the United States.

ACE is aimed at helping those who are aging out of the foster care system, escaping from human trafficking, or who are from low-income households by connecting them to a career ladder in high-demand careers such as information technology, healthcare, and manufacturing.

Participants will spend two days in the classroom and three days on a jobsite each week during the program, which may last some eight to 12 weeks. Some aspects of the program may be offered virtually.

Enrollment is open now, with start dates staggered during November, December, and January 2022 in business operations, frontend development/coding, cybersecurity, and Computer Numerical Control Machining for the manufacturing industry.  Seats already are filled for Digital Marketing and Aircraft Electronics Technician Certification, but applicants can apply for a future class.

“Right now CareerSource Tampa Bay is hearing employers express dire need for talent to meet their business needs,” explains Don Shepherd, CareerSource Tampa Bay’s senior director of special projects. “We have job seekers that are looking for careers...and the ACE program allows our young adults to latch up with an employer and receive that training.”

Kenneth Jones, manager of Workforce and Community Stabilization for the county’s Economic Development Department, says ACE will not only enable students to earn money while they are learning a career but “help mitigate the hiring risk for participating employers who may not otherwise take a chance on a youth with little or no experience.”

“We are excited to see this ACE Program in our County as we feel it’s important to provide youth a kick-start to their careers,” says Jones, who has been a developer of the program and administrator of the county’s contract with CareerSource Tampa Bay.

The costs of the program’s initial year are being shared by Hillsborough County and the U.S. Department of Labor. The county’s $609,000 covers training, oversight, and participant wages while $750,000 funded through DOL’s Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act is allocated for financial/training resources and for CareerSource’s services as career counselor, placement manager, and employer of record for program participants, Jones says.

ACE officials recommend applicants have a high school diploma or GED. To qualify, applicants should meet ACE poverty levels and, if they are male, be registered with the Selective Service. Help is available with registering and resumes if needed.

The goal for the pilot project is to serve up to 100 in the first year. 

ACE is collaborating with TechWorks on training; other ACE partners include Computer Coach, Hillsborough Community College, and JobWorks. 

CareerSource also is recruiting employers who wish to participate.

“We can always use additional employers that would like to help mentor, help cultivate their own talent,” Shepherd says. “This affords the employer a great opportunity.”

To learn more and/or apply visit Career Source Tampa Bay.
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Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune