The new year may bring new hope for unemployed and underemployed residents of Pinellas County’s long-struggling Lealman community. A group of Tampa Bay manufacturers have joined together to introduce neighborhood jobseekers to opportunities within the manufacturing industry and connect them with immediate job openings at six local facilities, including: Actron Engineering, Jabil, Monin, Polypack, TSE and Wendover Art Group.
A free, one-day manufacturing workshop – presented by Tampa Bay Works, in partnership with AmSkills – will be held on Saturday, January 18 at the Lealman Exchange (5175 45th Street N., St. Petersburg). During the interactive workshop, participants will work individually and as a team to build a hands-on project. They will then be evaluated for aptitude and interest in manufacturing, with promising candidates invited to attend a free, two-week manufacturing training bootcamp from Monday, January 27 to Friday, February 7. Individuals who complete the bootcamp are guaranteed a job interview with one or more of the six participating employers. As many as 45 entry-level positions are available, paying up to $14 dollars per hour.
“Even in a strong economy with low unemployment, there are people in our region who are struggling to find steady work at a livable wage,” said Peg Walton, executive director of Tampa Bay Works. “It’s an added challenge to find a job that also offers opportunities for advancement and wage growth. These manufacturers are providing an entry point to a great career – one with a clear path forward – to Lealman residents and other interested applicants throughout Tampa Bay.”
The participating businesses are part of a manufacturing collaborative launched in early 2019 by Tampa Bay Works, the regional talent initiative of the Tampa Bay Partnership. Using the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Talent Pipeline Management® model – a demand-driven, employer-led approach to aligning talent supply chains with dynamic business needs – eighteen companies representing more than 3,200 employees have worked together to identify their high-demand positions, determine the skills and qualifications the positions require, and are now communicating those needs to local education and workforce training providers. Collectively, the manufacturing group has identified a need for 695 entry-level assembler/operators and warehouse workers over the next 18 months, and the anticipated demand across the region is even greater.
“In the short-term, the collaborative will focus on recruiting and training programs to help participating companies meet their immediate talent needs,” said Deanna Doheny, the senior human resources manager for St. Pete manufacturing at Jabil and a member of the Tampa Bay Works manufacturing collaborative. “The collaborative has also made a long-term commitment to raising awareness of the many career opportunities available within the manufacturing industry in Tampa Bay.”
The Tampa Bay metro area is home to nearly 3,000 manufacturers employing more than 66,000 people. These businesses pay a combined $4 billion in wages each year, with an average annual wage of more than $60,000. By comparison, nearly 35 percent of households in Lealman report an average annual income under $25,000.
Lealman was selected as the location of the collaborative’s initial pilot project due to the density of manufacturing companies in the Central Pinellas area and the community demographics that indicated a need for quality employment opportunities. The collaborative intends to replicate the program in other areas throughout the region.
“This could be a life-changing opportunity for disadvantaged residents or young adults who are lost and don’t know what career to pursue,” said Tom Mudano, executive director of AmSkills. “Manufacturers are generally seeking individuals with a strong work ethic, and a willingness and ability to be trained on the job. The problem is that most people have no idea how many manufacturing opportunities are available within their community, because they aren’t familiar with the industry or don’t believe they have the necessary skills to seek employment. This program is dedicated to providing participants with the information, skills and opportunity they need to launch a career at the end of the bootcamp. We have been working with Pinellas County, CareerSource Pinellas and other community-based organizations in Lealman, and the surrounding St. Petersburg area, to raise awareness and reach out to potential job candidates. We’re hopeful for a great turnout at our January workshop.”
Participants from throughout the Tampa Bay area are encouraged to attend, and are not required to live in the Lealman area to participate in the workshop or training program.
Interested participants can register for the workshop at www.amskills.org or by calling (727) 301-1282 ext. 126. Seats are limited, but reservations will be accepted until all available spots are filled.