Campus & Community

New approach to workforce training planned for the Glades

Palm Beach State College in Belle Glade has partnered with the School District of Palm Beach County and business and industry leaders in the Glades to develop a more streamlined and economical approach to job training for the area’s workforce.

The goal of the new initiative is to encourage business and industry leaders to collectively identify their workforce training needs, with programs to be coordinated and provided by the College.

“If we can identify the skills needed across the businesses and encourage the businesses to cooperate with each other then we can provide the training at a more economical cost,’’ said Dr. Holly Bennett, provost of the Palm Beach State College Belle Glade campus. “A lot of our businesses are small; they can’t afford the training, and we can’t afford to do it with one or two people.”

A steering committee, which includes representatives from the school district, Florida Crystals, Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, Tripp Electric Motors and others, held their first meeting June 11 at the Belle Glade campus. The group is scheduled to meet again at 8:30 a.m. July 15 at West Tech, 2625 State 715. In the meantime, steering committee members are working to get more businesses and industry leaders in the Glades to sign on.

Palm Beach State already provides Corporate and Continuing Education at the Belle Glade campus, which includes customized training for businesses. However, enrollment in those courses has been low.

Steering committee members agree that this new approach is beneficial to ensuring that the training needs are met. “It’s customer driven as opposed to institutional driven,’’ said Ed Smith, manager of human resources at Florida Crystals.

Bryan Cross, assistant manager of human resources for Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, said that with an aging workforce, his company, which employs 400 people (560 during the season) will need a good applicant pool to fill jobs as employees retire.

“We need to ensure that our graduating high school seniors can do this. Some are college bound, but others are career bound.”

Cross said he knows that some companies will require industry specific training, but others have common training needs. “We’re hoping this next meeting will be more representative of the businesses and industries out here to identify the common needs.”

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