From the CEO

Wanted: Employers to hire interns — with wages paid by CareerSource Suncoast

By Sharon Hillstrom -

Special to the Business Observer

April 26, 2024

The Summer Youth Employment Program helps address major issue across the region: finding skilled workers for a variety of jobs and positions.

Recruiting and retaining talent is a major challenge for most employers in Manatee and Sarasota counties, and indeed, the nation. Solving this challenge requires creative approaches by businesses, educators and workforce development professionals.

Demand for employees is high. CareerSource Suncoast, the workforce development agency for the Manatee-Sarasota region, has averaged more than 8,000 unique job postings each month. Some of the most in-demand skills are marketing, sales and warehousing. Registered nurses also are in high demand.

The Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. is working with CareerSource Suncoast, the School District of Manatee County and the region’s colleges and universities to forge solutions to workforce challenges.

Part of the solution is exposing young people to career pathways available in the region, and providing relevant training for today’s workplace. One program showing potential is the Summer Youth Employment Program organized by CareerSource Suncoast. The program features The Power of YOU Job Skills Training provided by the 26 West Center at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. While the student spots for this summer are filled, employers can still register to participate.

“We are looking for employers to join us in this partnership to participate in a job fair to recruit students for summer internships where their wages will be funded by CareerSource Suncoast,” said Joshua Matlock, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast. “The curriculum provided by SCF is dynamic and relevant to today’s workplace. Employers can make a difference in the lives of these students while developing a talent pipeline for their own businesses.”

The Power of YOU Job Skills Training Workshop is a SCF curriculum that includes an interactive, day-long workshop covering personal branding; career exploration featuring a panel discussion with four professionals from different industries; Job Fair preparation; interviewing skills; and financial literacy. Students also participate in a Job Fair to meet with employers interested in bringing on summer interns.

The program was first offered in 2022 and graduated 78 middle and high school students from Manatee and Sarasota counties last summer. Students held internships as camp counselors, retail stockers, customer service phone support, office support staff, assembly line workers and janitorial staff. This year, 150 students will participate, including some from last year’s cohort.

The first step in this experiential learning journey, The Power of YOU Job Skills Training Workshop will be held at the 26 West Center on Saturday, May 11. To make the workshop accessible, CareerSource Suncoast is providing bus transportation from pick-up points in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The journey will continue as students engage with participating employers at a Job Fair on Wednesday, May 15 from 6-8 p.m. Students will interview for summer internships, with CareerSource Suncoast covering their wages of $15 per hour and the workers compensation costs. Internships begin June 3 and end June 28, running up to 30 hours per week. The graduation celebration will be held at the SCF Hal Chasey Gymnasium on Saturday, June 29.

“The workshop provides career exploration and readiness tools and helps our young students gain knowledge and confidence through experiential learning,” says SCF President Carol Probstfeld.

Cultivating a local talent pipeline is one piece of the workforce development puzzle. We encourage businesses to take a close look at this summer intern program, which shows great promise. Employers may apply to participate at CareerSourceSuncoast.com/summer-jobs-program.

Sharon Hillstrom is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. (BradentonAreaEDC.com). She may be contacted at info@bradentonareaedc.com or 941-803-9036.

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Lauren Kratsch

Lauren Kratsch

Senior Director Business Relations

Assistance for Local Companies Seeking to Export

Getting started and overcoming obstacles – The EDC’s partnership with the U.S. Commercial Service will help your business start off on the right foot. If you already are frustrated by previous attempts to export, the EDC and its partners will help you get on track.

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