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Florida Gulf Coast University Partners to Fill Southwest Florida Health and Education Vacancies


  • Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and the FutureMakers Coalition at Collaboratory announced a partnership on Friday to fill the number of worker vacancies in various sectors, including education and healthcare.
  • The partnership will use a $23 million grant from the US government under the “Good Jobs Challenge”
  • Focusing on Hendry and Glades counties, the collaboration has set a goal of filling at least 1,700 jobs through 2025

Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) and the FutureMakers Coalition at Collaboratory announced a partnership Friday to fill vacancies in healthcare, education and beyond in Southwest Florida.

The two entities plan to use a $23 million grant from the US government’s “Good Jobs Challenge,” focusing resources on Glades and Hendry counties.

The workforce initiative will be based on three pillars, according to FutureMakers directors: locating regional talent, understanding the skills gap and developing the right plan to meet business and workforce needs.

“Creating solutions to help job seekers obtain the qualifications and skills needed to succeed is vital for the future. That’s why Florida Gulf Coast University, in partnership with FutureMakers Coalition at Collaboratory, will develop and implement the Southwest Florida Fair Jobs Pipeline,” a statement from FutureMakers reads. “The pipeline is the result of eight years of effort to lay the groundwork for a groundbreaking investment in workforce development – $22.9 million from the US Economic Development Administration’s Good Jobs Challenge, as part of the US bailout.”

WINK News reports that the partnership aims to fill at least 1,700 jobs over the three-year duration of the effort. A secondary effort of the grant is to better prepare individuals for the demands of the workplace, particularly those seeking employment in health care or education.

Earlier this year, FutureMakers Coalition was chosen by CivicLab as one of five rural partnerships across the United States to participate in a two-year initiative to improve higher education and workforce systems in Hendry County, according to the group’s press release. The stated purpose of the partnership is to advance the ability to build relationships and resources to seize opportunities and ensure local communities benefit from professional development.

“We know that K-12 health care and education are two places where there is a huge shortage,” said the director of FutureMakers Tessa LeSage during an appearance on WINK’s morning newscast. “We’ve known that for a while. And we have health care…some of those skills are already quick, and we’re able to bring people in and train them and get them jobs; we will probably need to add additional credentials. From K-12, we really want to focus on paraprofessionals and do those extra two years of training to get them through to their baccalaureate and get them into the classroom to deal with the teacher shortage.

The Southwest Florida Fair Jobs Pipeline focuses on marginalized groups who experience multiple barriers to employment, education, and professional growth.

Through the program, job seekers in selected regions will be guided to pipelines that can lead to industry-recognized degrees and jobs.

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