40 graduate from South Florida Workforce job-training program
By Susan Stabley
South Florida Workforce graduated 40 newly trained workers as part of a program intended to match skills with designated job openings.
Employment officials and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jimmy Morales hope to extend the targeted training program to serve more local industries. The recruitment of corporations has always been difficult because of the lack of skilled workers in the county, he said.
"We've got to be prepared," Commissioner Morales said.
He named nursing and technology maintenance positions as prime examples of growing industries that lack local workers.
Private businesses also can take advantage of programs that South Florida Workforce can custom-fit to high-demand jobs, said Edith Humes-Newbold, executive director of the agency that operates with federal dollars funneled through the state. Neither employer nor job seeker incurs fees for individual training and job-placement services, according to South Florida Workforce.
The agency graduated its first class of trained bus mechanics for Miami-Dade Transit on Monday thanks to the pilot program Commissioner Morales said he wants to see picked up by other county departments and the private sector.
Eight months ago, as Miami-Dade Transit faced a critical shortage of mechanics, South Florida Workforce took inquires from about 7,000 jobseekers from its many One-Stop Career Centers.
After a screening process, South Florida Workforce put trainees in classrooms at Miami Lakes Educational Center and Robert Morgan Vocational Technical Institute
The first graduating class of 40 started on-the-job training this week as Miami-Dade Transit truck and diesel mechanics starting at $16.84 an hour who could get raises to $27.08 an hour.
Some in the class had been earning less than living-wage salaries or none at all, according to South Florida Workforce. Now, a trainee's first-year salary is estimated at $35,360 a year plus benefits.
More positions will be created by transportation expansions under the People's Transportation Plan, said county Transit Director Roosevelt Bradley. He said he expects to hire 100-200 new employees every year.
"I also feel like the agency has graduated," Mr. Bradley told an audience of more than 60 at the graduation ceremony Monday in Miami. The addition of in-house skilled workers will add to the bus system's reliability, Mr. Bradley said.
The bus fleet is the "backbone of the organization," Mr. Bradley said.
More classes are planned, including one of 25-30 mechanics this summer, said South Florida Workforce Employer Services Manager Michael Ruiz. Training for as many as 100 bus drivers could begin in the next few months, he said.
Training programs could help provide skilled transportation workers for area school and private bus lines, Mr. Ruiz said.
Miami Dade County's unemployment rate was 6.4% in April, according to Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation.
"We have the bodies. What we do is get the bodies ready," said Ms. Humes-Newbold.
Details: How South Florida Workforce can find and train workers (305) 594-7615. Miami-Dade Transit, call (305) 637-3801.