TAMPA, Fla. — Flexible hours and working from home, was the new normal for many Americans during the pandemic. But as more employees return to the office millions are leaving the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, a record-setting 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September. But Florida’s statewide apprenticeship program is looking to give job seekers a more meaningful career.
“The apprentice programs invest in you as you go along. The amount of hours that they put in is amazing. When you come out of it you have training, you have skill that will serve you for a lifetime, “says Brenda McKenzie, the Director of Workforce Partnerships and Specials Projects for the City of Tampa.
She says the apprentice programs help train the next generation of labor workers without a college degree. Right now, there are opportunities to learn and train to be a plumber, carpenter, child development specialist, electrician and more.
Before joining the program, Nicole Wright-Coker worked in food service and thought something like this was never attainable to her. Wright-Coker is an apprentice with IBEW and works for A & E Electric. She says there are a lot of benefits to the apprenticeship program including getting both the in-class instruction and the hands-on training.
Wright- Coker adds “I never do the same thing every day in a row, it is always something different. From putting in an outlet, to hooking up a transformer or a transfer switch, putting power on a building. You know, putting in an air conditioning system, everybody loves an electrician.”
Now the City of Tampa is leading by example and making sure apprentices are finding work right here in the community. Earlier this year city council approved an ordinance that requires city contractors working on a vertical construction project that is more than a million dollars to allocate at least 12 percent of labor hours for state-sponsored apprentices. The city plans to expand the ordinance next year to include bridges, roads, railroads and other structural projects.
“The nice thing about the apprentice is if you leave a job you can learn skills that will allow you to travel, that will allow you to learn, that will allow you to grow, and you can do that right here in Tampa. There are so many industries that are growing that are hiring, that are allowing you to build a great life here, says McKenzie”
You can learn more about the statewide apprenticeship program and how to apply by clicking here.