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Governor announced CFK to receive DEO funding for Hurricane Irma Recovery

KEY WEST, FL, March 3, 2020— Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced The College of the Florida Keys (CFK) was awarded $2,553,653 to expand its construction apprenticeship programs to the middle and upper Keys. CFK was one of seven organizations awarded through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program. Award recipients include local workforce development boards, schools, colleges and universities in communities impacted by Hurricane Irma. CFK’s grant was the largest amount to any college and second only to Florida International University. The program, administered by DEO, is designed to train Floridians in construction trades necessary to support disaster recovery efforts.

“I am thankful to Governor DeSantis for recognizing that CFK is community focused at its very core,” said Dr. Jonathan Gueverra, CFK President and CEO. “Businesses, homeowners and individuals will benefit from this collaborative effort.”

In 2018, the College launched apprenticeship programs in electrical, carpentry, HVAC, and plumbing in Key West. With the DEO grant, the College will be able to introduce the same programs in the middle and upper Keys as early as August 2020.

“Not long after Hurricane Irma, we began working on apprenticeship programs with the College to train folks in the trades and help us recover and rebuild,” recalled Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers. “This generous investment will help us continue that work and grow our skilled workforce dramatically. It is a testament to the leadership of The College of the Florida Keys that we have been honored with this grant.”

The College’s apprenticeship programs partner the College with Florida’s Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, as well as local construction organizations to provide education and training in all aspects of the respective trades—from conceptual to practical skills. In the College’s “learn while you earn” model, students are employed full-time with a sponsoring employer that is partnered with CFK. They attend classes, which are tuition-free, while developing their skills through on-the-job training with their sponsor. As apprentice students advance through the program, their progress is rewarded with periodic wage increases.

Upon successful program completion, an apprentice will be considered a “journey worker” and will receive a four-level certification by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) as well as a nationally-recognized Completion of Apprenticeship certificate by the State of Florida.

“I am so grateful to Governor DeSantis for awarding over $2.5 million dollars directly to The College of the Florida Keys,” said Monroe County Commissioner Michelle Coldiron. “This apprenticeship program represents a robust partnership with the College and the business community to aid in the reconstruction of our residential neighborhoods, provide new career opportunities for our residents and invest in the long-term economic recovery of the Florida Keys.”

News of the grant comes as the College is preparing to begin construction on a new 38,000-square-foot Upper Keys Center in Key Largo, scheduled to open in August of 2021. The Upper Keys Center will become the northern hub for the College’s apprenticeship programs among other academic and workforce training programs including nursing, emergency medical technician, paramedic, marine environmental technology, marine resource management, and public safety (law enforcement and corrections academies).

For more information about participating in any of CFK’s apprenticeships, as either a student or an employer, please contact Megan Perez, Director of Community Engagement and Testing, at apprenticeships@fkcc.edu or 305-809-3185, or visit the College’s website at fkcc.edu/apprenticeships.

Additional statements from Keys leaders on CFK DEO grant:

“When we met with DEO to make our case for this award the pitch was simple: help keep our home-grown talent at home with great paying jobs. This is a big day for everyone in the Keys who benefits from these skilled workers.”

– Scott Atwell, Executive Vice President, Key West Chamber of Commerce

“You can ask any subcontractor and/or general contractor and they are all saying the same thing: ‘I can’t find the skilled workers to do the work.’ You would think that finding the projects to work on would be the biggest issue. Instead it is finding the people to do the work.

So many people believe getting a 4-year degree is the only path to success, when actually it can be going to trade school and getting paid while learning. I’m excited about the expansion of the apprenticeship programs and I will be a big advocate to help it succeed.”

— John Forrer, Owner, Pro-Tech e2 Electrical and Electronics