“It Was the Best of Times…It Was the Worst of Times…”

That famous opening quote from Charles Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities could well have been written today. I recently attended the Hire Day Orlando event at the Amway Arena and hosted a table that was wedged into a sea of employers who are desperate to find good talent to fill the growing number of job openings in Central Florida. As the 6000+ job seekers pushed their way through the crowd for a chance to speak to the HR Recruiters manning the employer tables, many of them happened by the Jobs Partnership table, thinking we were hiring. When we asked them what kind of jobs they were looking for, they stumbled over their words and eventually confessed that they had no idea. Several broke down in tears as they shared the challenges they faced and we prayed with them for guidance and direction.

You may be asking yourself, with 3.8% unemployment, why are 6000+ people pushing their way around the Arena looking for a job? You see, 44% of working families in Florida don’t make enough money to pay the bills, and many need public assistance to make ends meet. The problem is not the shortage of jobs, but a growing skills gap between those seeking family-sustaining jobs and high-growth industry employers who can’t fill their jobs. Job seekers are not only lacking hard skills like technical expertise, they are also lacking soft skills like communication, critical thinking and social skills to qualify. The result is the erosion of hope as the cycle of poverty continues to the next generation.

That’s why we are expanding our LifeWorks training in Orange County – so we can train more people in the critical “soft-skills” and connect them to our partners for better jobs or short-term training that results in a credential and job placement. Did you know that after 10-weeks of accelerated training at Valencia, you can get a full-time job with benefits at Lockheed Martin and other manufacturers paying $15-18/hour?

Our LifeWorks classes are starting again at the end of August at four locations in Orange County. If you know someone that is struggling to find and keep a better job, invite them to enroll in the class (www.jobspartnership.org/lifeworks/apply). If you are looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity, consider serving as a Coach at one of our training sites (www.jobspartnership.org/volunteers/apply).

The rest of the story…we had in-depth conversations with 85 people at the Hire Day Orlando event and 19 of them have already applied for the LifeWorks training that starts in August. This challenge isn’t solved by fixing someone’s resume. That’s why we offer a comprehensive solution built on developing relationships and helping people discover a path to the job they were made for.

Marc Stanakis is the President of The Jobs Partnership and can be reached at (407) 641-0755 x104 or mstanakis@jobspartnershipfl.org

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