PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — Pasco County and CareerSource Pasco/Hernando are teaming up for a new program aimed at getting unemployed and underemployed people back to work by connecting them with individualized training customized based on what they already know and the job they hope to get.
- Workforce Re-Entry Program set to start October 1
- Only 2 requirements: Pasco County residency, motivation to find work
- Program funded with "Penny for Pasco" funds
“We’re going to try to work with those employers that are willing to take a chance on someone that maybe doesn’t have all the skills, doesn’t meet all the criteria that’s necessary for a job,” said CareerSource Pasco/Hernando President and CEO Jerome Salatino.
It’s called the Workforce Re-entry Program. Salatino said there are really only two requirements to take part: participants must live in Pasco County and they have to be motivated to find work.
There are certain groups being specifically targeted, including ex-offenders, people struggling with substance abuse, the homeless, and veterans. They’ll meet with CareerSource to determine what job would be right for them.
The agency will then arrange training designed to bridge any skills gap.
“The idea is to be able to meet the needs of the local employers, as well as do a good match – really tailor it to the individual and the employer themselves,” Salatino said.
Connecting people with opportunities
Pasco County Commission Chairman Mike Wells said the idea came from conversations he had with inmates doing work for the county. He said they commented about the lack of job opportunities for felons once they’re released.
Wells said he’s also followed the story of a young man convicted of a felony who’s working to turn his life around and was hired by a county department.
“The kid’s been here for a year and a half. He’s doing great. He’s going above and beyond. Those are the kind of examples that folks – we all make mistakes. As long as we learn by them, we deserve another opportunity,” Wells said.
Kimberly Price, the community services director for the county commission, said the program can also make a difference for some of the veterans the county’s Veteran Services Office works with.
“Unfortunately, even though we don’t want to think about it, we have homeless veterans. We have veterans who are struggling. We have veterans who come back from being deployed with PTSD, and it’s difficult sometimes for them to obtain employment,” Price said. “The programs we have in conjunction with this partnership we’re doing with CareerSource is going to change the platform. I think it’s going to change the future of a lot of people.”
Present, future goals
On September 17, commissioners approved using $350,000 in Penny for Pasco funds to finance the program. Salatino said the goal is to help 50 residents, which he said could lead to as much as a $1.5 million return on investment.
“It’s just about giving somebody an opportunity, opening the door a little bit for them and help them at least get in the door,” said Wells. “Then, it’s up to them from there.”
Salatino said the jobs would be mostly entry level in anything from office work to construction to healthcare. He said additional training could also be available once participants get a job to help them advance.
The program is expected to begin on October 1.
For more information about the Workforce Re-entry Program, contact CareerSource Pasco/Hernando at (727) 484-3400 x3023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.