BY SHARON HILLSTROM

There are few positive side-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you or someone you know is out of work in Manatee County, new rapid credentialing programs offer a chance to pursue careers in high-growth industries that often offer higher wages and benefits.

Hospitality workers, who have been especially hard hit by the economic effects of the pandemic, are well-positioned to take advantage of these programs. “Soft” skills honed by experience in customer service are in high demand among Bradenton-Sarasota employers in high-growth industries like advanced manufacturing, health care, and more.

Employers in these industries are looking for local talent. Check out www.JobFocus.com, where employers in Manatee and Sarasota counties list job opportunities.

Grant funding for training means little to no cost for students, and help with job placement in the Bradenton-Sarasota area can reinvigorate your work life, which may have been derailed by COVID-19.

At Manatee Technical College (MTC), rapid credentialing programs take only six weeks to six months to complete, and completers will receive help with job placement.

Programs include Advanced Manufacturing, Applied Cybersecurity, CNC Production Technology, Plumber Helper, Emergency Medical Technician, Medical Lab Assistant, Nurse Assistant, Phlebotomy, and Patient Care Technician.

MTC is taking applications now for the rapid credentialing programs, which will begin in January 2021. Visit the MTC website for more information. Those interested in Nursing Assistant or Plumber Helper need to apply through CareerEdge.

State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), also is offering rapid credentialing to help underemployed and unemployed community members in SCF’s service region transition to enter new occupations or advance their existing careers. SCF offers associate degrees, workforce certificates and workforce training that corresponds with high-demand jobs and expanding career fields.

The SCF program offers levels of education ranging from single-day training programs to two-year degrees. Enrollees will acquire the knowledge, skills and credentials necessary to become eligible for new jobs as well as promotions or raises with their current employer.

SCF is offering incentives for students that pursue workforce certificates, most of which can be completed in less than one year. Those who register and enroll in one of 16 select SCF certificate programs are eligible to receive a scholarship up to $1,000. Certificate programs yield credits that apply to corresponding associate degrees. Enrollees can pursue the level of education suitable to their current career requirements and their future goals.

Through a partnership with CareerSource Suncoast, students in the SCF program also receive personalized career coaching, placement assistance, post-employment check-ins and other hands-on career services.

For more information, visit Programs.SCF.edu/GetNoticed or contact Workforce Education Outreach Specialist Jennifer Boris at BorisJ@SCF.edu or 941-363-7216.

If you or someone you know in Manatee County is out of work or just open to a different career path, now is the time to investigate rapid credentialing opportunities available through local institutions.