Archive for the ‘Job Training’ Category

Exploratory LabA collaborative career development program known as the Exploratory Lab Boot Camp has been named Best Student Program of the Year by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF).

The program, designed to generate well-rounded, highly skilled IT workers for Tampa Bay employers, is a joint venture between TechData, Valpak, Agile Thought, St. Petersburg College, University of South Florida St. Petersburg and TBTF.

The partnership and boot camp arose from a 2012 information technology skills gap analysis conducted by Pat Gehant, Director of Workforce Initiative at TBTF. That study showed that Tampa Bay area technology companies are facing a critical shortage of qualified personnel to fill open jobs. The boot camp program is creating a pipeline of skilled employees to meet the needs of local businesses.

“The exploratory lab is a way for us to formalize and structure an overlay program to what the students are learning in school and expose students to all the different types of skills necessary in the technology industry,” said Angie Beltz, Vice President for Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data. “The other piece is to really ensure there is a good connection between these students and businesses in the Tampa Bay area that will help keep the students here and working after they graduate.”

Among the 43 graduates from two sessions held this year, 78% of them seeking a job or internship were hired as interns or for new jobs by Tech Data, Agile Thought, Raymond James, Ernst & Young, local start-up Lets Share Value, and an international company in Thailand. Some students returned to existing jobs seeking promotions and others returned to school with a new purpose.

“The ability to strengthen our programs to better meet the needs of world-class employers is fundamental to our vision of success for our students,” said SPC President Bill Law. “The Exploratory Lab Boot Camp is a great example of creative partnerships that move education out of the classroom and into the real world.”

“Angie Beltz, Pat Gehant, the Tampa Bay Technology Forum and St. Petersburg College have done an excellent job of leading the Exploratory Lab Boot Camp,” said James Connolly, director of the Workforce Institute at SPC. “By combining Industry needs with innovative educational strategies, we have been able to increase the preparedness of the student to enter the workforce.”

To be eligible for the free 70-hour program, participants must be enrolled at one of the partnering institutions: St. Petersburg College and St. Petersburg College Workforce Institute, USF, University of Tampa, Eckerd College or Stetson College of Law. Students do not have to be enrolled in an IT area of study to apply.

Work is under way to develop a sustainable business model that includes a collaboration between five to six companies to deliver the curriculum in May 2016. Tech Data also will assist in mentoring other companies to deliver the curriculum and plans to offer a third session of the boot camp in June 2016.

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As baby boomers, the largest American generation to date, begin retiring, they are leaving looming gaps in the workforce. The departures have drawn media attention to the growing number of openings in the Tampa Bay area for public servants, specifically in public safety, policy and utilities.

In the City of St. Petersburg, for instance, nearly a quarter of the police force is currently eligible to retire. And when veteran officers leave, they take institutional knowledge with them.

St. Petersburg College is working closely with cities, counties, municipalities and companies to train and expose its students to the diversity of jobs available in the public utilities, public safety and public policy sectors.

SPC Career Exploration Event

public sector jobsRecently, more than 100 people attended SPC’s Public Utilities Career Exploration event at the Seminole Campus, where they learned about current and future career openings, training requirements, salaries and scholarship opportunities.

The annual career exploration event began a few years ago with a focus on job opportunities for students in SPC’s A.S. degree program in environmental science, but has expanded to include public policy students. The college eventually plans to hold the event twice a year and include students in information technology.

“The event illustrates a strong partnership between educators and local industries to inform students and the public of career opportunities in our region,” said Jason Krupp, director of Workforce Services for SPC. “It is very rewarding to help connect students with real opportunities in a sector they may not have considered otherwise.”

Job openings in public utilities

One of the most diverse departments in any municipality, public utilities positions range from mechanics and equipment operators to lab techs, biologists and chemists to accountants, marketers and attorneys. In St. Petersburg, Water Resources is the city’s largest operation and provides potable water distribution, wastewater (sewage) collection, treatment and disposal, and reclaimed water for irrigation purposes to city residents.

“Because water is a limited natural resource with increasing demand and regulation, there is a strong future need for skilled workers in public utilities,” Krupp said.

City of Seminole to hire SPC public policy students

Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds recognized this need and recently announced an agreement with SPC to hire one SPC public policy student or graduate each year for the next 10 years. This agreement is a testament of the high-quality instruction and career preparation provided by SPC faculty and staff.

The trainee will work their way through four departments: administration, public safety, community development and public works, to receive exposure to and specialized experience in the various areas of city government.

Public safety training

Over at SPC’s Allstate Center, students can enter a training academy to become a police or corrections officer or firefighter, move up in their career by earning an academic degree or take mandatory and specialized training available for emergency and first responders, military personnel, public safety, emergency management and judicial professionals and even the general public.

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supplyCareerEdge Funders Collaborative and St. Petersburg College (SPC) have partnered to provide training to strengthen the region’s growing transportation, distribution and logistics (TDL) workforce. The partnership, TDL Tampa Bay, is funded through a grant CareerEdge received from Jobs for the Future.

CareerEdge, an innovative partnership of business, government, and philanthropic organizations that leverages public and private dollars to provide opportunities for better jobs and wages in Manatee, Sarasota, and Charlotte counties, has been awarded $220,000 to train 300 individuals over the next two years and provide them support and job placement services in the Tampa Bay, Sarasota and Manatee region. The projects will connect underrepresented populations to the industry, with each site committing to serve at least 25 percent female participants.

This is the first time SPC and CareerEdge, which is housed at State College of Florida in Manatee County, have partnered to provide workforce training. TDL Tampa Bay, will serve employers and workers throughout Florida’s eight-county Tampa Bay region, with priority emphasis on Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, which forecasts a 13.8 percent growth in TDL jobs by 2021.

The 10 workforce partnerships include strong participation from TDL businesses in both design and implementation, to ensure that individuals complete programs with skills and certifications that are in-demand in their regional labor market. Workers will earn industry-recognized credentials such as a Commercial Driver’s License and Global Logistics Associate certificate, and many will also earn college credits that lead toward Associate’s degrees in TDL.

TDL Tampa Bay will capitalize on both organization’s strengths, pairing CareerEdge’s expertise in helping area employers meet the challenges of a fast-changing economy and SPC’s LINCS Supply Chain Management academic program.

“This partnership will be a true asset as we strive to train our students to meet the burgeoning demand for a skilled supply chain workforce,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “This strikes at the very heart of our efforts at the college – to help students enter or re-enter the workforce with the skills they need to build careers in high-demand industries.”

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SPC graduate Bryan Calhoun works at LumaStream, an LED manufacturing company in St. Petersburg.

SPC graduate Bryan Calhoun works at LumaStream, an LED manufacturing company in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg College joins the Florida Department of Education in celebrating Florida Career and Technical Education Month. In honor of the observance, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a proclamation that highlights career and technical education opportunities throughout the state.

SPC’s workforce associate degrees and certificate programs prepare workers for jobs that are among the fastest growing in a number of industries. It is one of 12 state and community colleges in the state that are part of the Florida TRADE Consortium, delivering accelerated training that leads to internships and jobs in manufacturing.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Employment Projections Data, by the year 2022 Pinellas County employment in the following careers is expected to grow by the following estimated percentage:

The college also offers training programs for nearly half of the jobs listed in The 100 Best Jobs of 2015 report by US News & World Report.

According to the Florida Department of Education, more than 500,000 Florida students are enrolled in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs and job preparation programs.

“It’s critical that we provide Florida students a high-quality education that will prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century,” Scott said. “Career and technical education programs across the state are helping our students gain the skills and training they need to be successful now and in the future. Increased funding will help our schools better respond to the workforce needs in their communities.”

In January, Scott announced the 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget proposal, which includes a $30 million for a new STEM-focused occupation workforce training initiative and $5 million to incentivize $10,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees at state colleges.

It has been a focus of SPC to make higher education more affordable and results-oriented. In November 2012, the college became the first state college to accept the “Governor’s $10,000 Degree Challenge” and created a $10,000 tech management degree program.

The governor’s proposed budget also includes a $41 million tax cut for college textbooks and an expansion to the Bright Futures Scholarship program. The January 2015 Florida College System newsletter says the price of college textbooks has continued to increase over the years, often exceeding $100 per book, and estimates that a student taking five courses per term will save, at minimum, $60 per year.

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IMG_2885 (8 of 10)-X3Skills gaps in two of the primary industries in the Tampa Bay region are presenting opportunities for area students.

Since 2012, two separate studies have identified a dearth of skilled employees in the manufacturing and information technology fields. Meanwhile, the need is growing as the Tampa Bay area continues to add post-recession jobs in these two fields.

In 2013, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties housed more than 2,000 manufacturers with a total income contribution of nearly $9 million. With each new manufacturing job comes the creation of an additional 2.65 jobs, causing a ripple-effect on job creation.

Pinellas has the second largest base of manufacturing employment in Florida. The region, home to corporate headquarters or major plants for manufacturing giants such as Gerdau Ameristeel and Honeywell International, continues to grow. Meanwhile, Florida ranks among the top ten states for manufacturing, providing the opportunity for mobility for skilled manufacturers.

Tampa Bay has also become a hotbed of IT companies, including Jabil Circuit, Microsoft and Tech Data. It’s projected that IT job growth will outpace total occupation job growth in the area through 2019. In the Tampa Bay area, IT generates $16 billion in Gross Domestic Product each year.

Like the manufacturing industry, the trend in the Tampa Bay area mimics statewide growth. Florida currently ranks third in the nation for high-tech companies, offering myriad options for professional growth.

Meeting manufacturing, tech employer needs

St. Petersburg College is helping to meet the needs of local employers and the underemployed by preparing students for jobs in these two primary industries. More than half of the college’s fall 2014 graduates came from workforce programs designed to give them the skills and certifications needed to be highly employable in high-wage fields.

“It’s critical for our students and our community as a whole that our efforts at St. Petersburg College are aligned with the needs of local industry,” said Jason Krupp, SPC’s Director of Workforce Services. “Through a renewed focus on workforce programs, certifications and internships, we are preparing our students to enter the workforce more quickly and better prepared than ever before.”

Increasing numbers of students are graduating with industry-recognized IT certifications such as CISCO CCNA, JAVA, A+, Net+, Solid Works and SQL Server.

Debbie Frisch, a database professional and SPC graduate of the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training (HITT) Program in SQL Server said the training she received at St. Petersburg College helped her land a new job as a Marketing Data Specialist at Bright House Networks.

“I am very excited about the job, it seems to be a perfect fit for me,” Frisch said. “The HITT program is a wonderful opportunity and I was so lucky to be able to be involved in it.”

Frisch’s supervisor, Karen Nissen, said that having an employee with SQL knowledge “will add value to our team as our organization is moving toward being more data driven.”

“Being able to query on our data warehouse to get answers to complex questions is what we were looking for in a new employee, and Debbie’s drive to acquire additional SQL skills will ensure she is successful in these tasks,” said Nissen, Marketing Intelligence Manager for Bright House Networks.

Exploratory Lab Boot Camp

The college continues to respond to the needs of local industry. This spring, the college – along with partners Tech Data, Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF), Valpak and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg – launched the Exploratory Lab Boot Camp, a program to give students real-time, real-life exposure to technology skills sought by local companies. The program will help students from any area of academic study pursue the training they need to find high-wage, highly sought jobs.

“The Exploratory Lab is a great example of business and university leadership partnering together to create a unique learning experience that exposes students to the vast tech opportunities in the Tampa Bay area,” said Chris Cate, Vice Chair TBTF, and CIO of Cox Target Media/Valpak.

At the end of the week-long boot camp students will go straight into interviews for jobs and internships with Tech Data, a wholesale distributor of technology products headquartered in Pinellas County.

“Tech Data is excited about the opportunity to be part of a collaborative effort with leaders in the Tampa Bay area and to create best-in-class curriculum and collateral for the Exploratory Lab Boot Camp,” said Angie Beltz, Vice President of Product Marketing for the Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data. “We find this initiative very important because we are exposing non-Technology degree (students) to the opportunities in the technology industry, as well as reinforcing the skills necessary to be qualified for jobs at a company like Tech Data.”

Advanced manufacturing training

St. Petersburg College also provides short-term training programs in advanced manufacturing to prepare students for high-demand jobs in today’s technology-driven manufacturing market.

Through the Florida TRADE Consortium, more than 80 SPC students earned certifications in the fall of 2014 in areas including production technician (MSSC-CPT), CNC operator (NIMS), mechatronics worker (PMMI), computer aided design professional (Solidworks Professional) and safety (OSHA 30).

“These short-term certification programs are game changers,” Krupp said. “We’re putting students on a fast track to employment and providing local employers with skilled staff, now, when they need it. It’s a true win-win.”

(Sources: Enterprise Florida, www.enterpriseflorida.com; Pinellas County Economic Development, www.pced.org; Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, floridajobs.org; Tampa Bay Business Journal, www.bizjournals.com/tampabay; St. Petersburg College, www.spcollege.edu)



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When employees and guests enter the spacious lobby of Tech Data’s home office in Clearwater, motivational posters tower overhead.

Those messages – EXTRAORDINARY begins today and Go after it! – greeted St. Petersburg College students earlier this month.

The students got a first-hand look at what it would be like to be one of the more than 9,000 employees working worldwide for Tech Data and 26 other local companies during SPC’s National Job Shadowing Week, Feb. 2-6.

Ryan McNulty, Talent Acquisition Partner, for Tech Data’s Campus Relations department, works behind the scenes to make events like this happen for students from colleges and universities throughout Florida.

“The best part of working at Tech Data is that I get to be in a real corporate environment with access to a lot of executives and important decision makers that you don’t get in other companies,” he said.

Events like these often help students confirm a career path or area of study.

“After this experience, I am convinced that Human Resources is where I belong,” said Carol Hill, after job shadowing at Tech Data. “I am glad I was provided with an insight in Talent Acquisition Partner/Campus Relations.  I was also grateful to have learned the Human Resource Generalist role and to have had a chance to take the tour of Tech Data.”

Tech Data is one of the world’s largest distributors of IT products and services, ranking No. 111 in the 2014 list of Fortune 500 companies. In addition to their massive corporate home office in Clearwater, Tech Data has six district offices in the U.S. with international operations in Europe and Latin America.

Claudia Iacobescu

Claudia Iacobescu, an ESL student at SPC

Claudia Iacobescu, an ESL student at SPC who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting in Romania, was excited to shadow at Tech Data due to their international reach. She spent about three hours shadowing Karen Robinson, a supervisor in the accounting department.

“I was curious how their accounting department was working,” said Iacobescu. “She explained all the duties in every day. They work together like a team. I was very impressed.”

Prior to the job shadowing experience, Iacobescu explained that she had only seen the inside view of large companies like Tech Data in the movies.

“It was the first time I saw something like this,” she said. “Now I can see my dream with my own eyes.”

Other students had similar experiences at other leading local firms.

Tarpon Springs Campus student, Kane Magnuson, shadowed the Vice President of BB&T.

“He was very professional and extremely informative,” she said.  “He gave me valuable tips; it was an eye-opening experience. It gave me a totally different view of the banking system.”

SPC student Alyssa Renee  job shadowing at Nielsen Media Research

SPC student Alyssa Renee job shadowing at Nielsen Media Research

Alyssa Renee shadowed in various departments at Nielsen Media Research.

“I was excited to take advantage of the opportunity to shadow at Nielsen, said Renee. “Two of the most important lessons I gained from this experience were networking and saying ‘yes’ to everything. Virginia Lee, a software engineer, advised us to ‘start in the trenches’ by taking an entry level job as a chance to learn your weaknesses and to ‘fill the gaps’ by working on your weaknesses to define who you want to be as a leader.”

Some students, like Ronnell Montgomery job shadowed at St. Petersburg College. She tweeted about her experience shadowing at the St. Petersburg College Foundation with Jane Parker and Frances Neu.

Ronnell posted her thoughts on Twitter:

“Overall, our first National Job Shadow Week was extremely successful,” said Rosaria Pepitone, one of the Career Outreach Specialists that helped organize the event that gave 32 students a memorable experience. “We were ecstatic to hear all the positive feedback from the students and employers who took part in this opportunity.”

The following companies opened their doors and shared their time and knowledge during this year’s event:

  1. A+ Tax & Accounting Services, Inc.
  2. AIG Financial Network
  3. American Strategic Insurance (ASI)
  4. Bank of America
  5. BB&T Bank
  6. Bouchard Insurance
  7. City of Largo
  8. Clearwater Chamber of Commerce
  9. CPA Partners LLC
  10. Doug Mayer Insurance Agency, Inc.
  11. Goodwill Industries
  12. Hertz Corporation
  13. Hilton Worldwide Call Center
  14. ING Financial Partners
  15. Nielsen Media Research
  16. P3Agency
  17. Paychex
  18. Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office
  19. Prudential Insurance
  20. Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.
  21. RumFish Grill
  22. Seminole Chamber of Commerce
  23. Suncoast Credit Union
  24. Tarpon Springs Police Department
  25. Tech Data
  26. Transamerica
  27. WestCMR

If you are interested in having an SPC student job shadow or intern for your business, please contact an SPC Career Specialist.

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Peter-Parapon and his new daughterWith his wife due to deliver their baby any day, and a job interview scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, SPC Public Policy student and United States Air Force Veteran Peter Parapon expected the coming week would be busier than usual. But when he woke up on Monday, Nov. 17, he could not have dreamed what the next 48 hours would hold.

That night, his wife went into labor. After an exhausting, sleepless night, they welcomed their third child – a little girl – into the world. By the time things settled down, he had just enough time to run home, grab a shower, change into a suit and rush to a job interview for a volunteer position in U.S. Rep. David Jolly’s office on SPC’s Seminole Campus.

“They said: ‘You look so tired, what’s wrong?’” Parapon recounted. “Oh, we just had our third child.”

They were so impressed that he came in for that interview that they hired him on the spot.

“I called my wife and told her the good news,” he said. Then he went to class.

“I was awake for like 36 hours by the end of the day,” he said. “The next morning when I woke up I thought: ‘Did this really happen?’ Then I looked at the hospital bracelet on my wrist and knew it wasn’t a dream.”

Maintaining the school – life balance

Like many students at SPC, Parapon knows that balancing family, school and work is not an easy job. After graduating from Osceola High School in 2001, he started taking classes at St. Petersburg College.

“Before I entered the military I went to SPC without great results,” he said. “I was right out of high school and had to work — and work often trumped school.”

After serving as an Air Traffic Controller Apprentice in the Air Force in Texas he came home to Seminole to give college another try. This time around, the discipline and work ethic he picked up in the service gave him the tools he needed to be a successful student. And his Post-9/11 GI benefits meant he could focus on his education and getting work experience and still help support his growing family.

Parapon earned his A.A. from SPC and expects to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration this fall.

“It is just amazing what the Public Policy and Administration degree encompasses,” said Parapon. “There’s a huge spectrum of what you can do with this degree.”

He remembers the advice of one of his SPC professors, Jeff Kronschnabl, who encourages students to follow their heart and do what makes them happy. For Parapon, serving in politics and government is a dream job.

The value of work experience

Pictured from left: Peter Parapon and Congressman David Jolly.

SPC Public Policy student Peter Parapon (left) and Congressman David Jolly.

Like many degrees at St. Petersburg College, hands-on work experience is part of the curriculum. To complete the 180 hours of work experience for his

Co-Op Experience class, Parapon worked on newly elected Florida Rep. Chris Latvala’s campaign from July-Nov. 2014. He knocked on doors, handed out literature and worked at campaign events.

“It gave me a lot of insight on how running for office works,” he said. “Grass roots campaigns are very important. Getting out there and meeting people face to face plays a huge role in politics and is still a major part of campaigns.”

And since he landed the job in Rep. Jolly’s office, he works about 16 hours a week adding to his already impressive work experience.

“Congressman Jolly’s staff are amazing to work with,” he said. “I’ve learned so much since starting there. I deal with constituent issues every day. It’s very rewarding when you get a chance to help resolve their issues.”

He values the experience so much that even though he has long-since satisfied his classroom requirements, he keeps volunteering with Latvala, knowing that eventually the experience he is gaining will pay off. Eventually, he wants to run for office and serve in a governmental leadership position.

“I may not be ready for a front line position as a candidate, but I am happy right now being behind the scenes helping government officials serve the people well.”

Veterans Services

Parapon is one of more than 2,000 veterans that call SPC home. For the fourth consecutive year, St. Petersburg College has been named among the Best for Vets Colleges by Military Times. This year, the college ranks No. 15 among four-year institutions in the U.S.

Parapon is the President of the Student Veterans Association on Seminole Campus and also works about 25 hours per week with Veterans Services through the work study program.

“Veteran Services are a good group of people with a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “I get to see Veterans and I can relate to them. It gives me a good feeling of comradery that veterans miss once we get out of military.”

He shares his continued passion for serving with other veteran students.

“For veterans who want to continue to serve their country, SPC’s Public Policy and Administration degree program is a great way to go.”

Read more about St. Petersburg College on Twitter at #spcollege.

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