CareerSource Florida and the state Department of Education today announced a new registered apprenticeship program in Information Technology at Tallahassee-based Inspired Technologies, one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the Southeast. Florida Department of Education Chancellor for Innovation Eric Hall, CareerSource Florida Board Chair Kevin Doyle and President/CEO Michelle Dennard, Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Ken Lawson, and Inspired Technologies Founder and Managing Partner Craig Goodson joined other state and local leaders at the company’s headquarters.
The tour of Inspired Technologies coincides with a proclamation by Governor Ron DeSantis recognizing Nov. 11-17 as National Apprenticeship Week, giving Florida’s businesses, communities and educators the opportunity to showcase their apprenticeships while providing valuable information to careers seekers.
“Keeping taxes low while prioritizing investments in innovation and talent development, including apprenticeships and other workforce training opportunities, will continue to advance and diversify Florida’s economy,” said Governor DeSantis. “Apprenticeships like the program at Inspired Technologies help businesses strengthen the skills of their existing and future workforce and allow Floridians to earn while they learn in growing industries.”
More than 4,500 Florida employers including CVS/Caremark Pharmacy, PGT Windows, Lockheed Martin and The Hartford participate in registered apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeship programs are essential to ensuring every Floridian has a world-class education, and a wide variety of education options in our state,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, whose department oversees the state’s Office of Apprenticeship. “Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has committed to expanding existing and future workforce opportunities to allow Floridians to earn while they learn in growing industries with the goal of being first in the nation for workforce education by 2030.”
Inspired Technologies, an IT solutions provider with both public and private-sector clients, began its registered apprenticeship program this past summer. Apprentices begin as technicians on the company’s Support Desk, advancing over two years to a Senior Network Consultant with an annual salary between $60,000 and $100,000 upon successful completion of the program.
“We were facing a critical skills shortage as our business expanded,” said Inspired Technologies founder Craig Goodson, who started the company with two people and now has nearly 175 full-time and contract employees. “Working with the Office of Apprenticeship at the Department of Education, CareerSource Capital Region and Lively Technical College, we were able to stand up an apprenticeship program in a matter of weeks and now have several dedicated new employees growing their skills and their paychecks as they advance through our program.”
The CareerSource Florida board has allocated $3.5 million over the past two years to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships through partnerships with Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards, education and training providers and local businesses. At least 19 boards have one or more apprenticeship programs underway or in progress with businesses in their areas.
“Apprenticeships lead to high-wage, high-demand careers in a wide range of industries, and employers benefit from increased productivity and reduced turnover,” said Board Chair Doyle, who owns a small business. “National statistics show 94 percent of apprentices continue working for their employer after completing their apprenticeship.”
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, for every dollar spent on apprenticeship programs, employers receive a return on their investment of $1.50. Of employers surveyed, 97 percent recommend apprenticeship as a training model.
“There is a significant return on investment for businesses that use apprenticeships to recruit and train their own skilled workforce through this time-tested, proven model of work-based learning,” said President Dennard. “As the state workforce policy and investment board, CareerSource Florida has been a strong supporter of apprenticeship expansion, which is providing a pathway to middle- and high-skill careers for Floridians in diverse industries that support Florida’s growing economy.”
Earlier this year, CareerSource Florida launched Apprentice Florida, an outreach campaign in partnership with the Departments of Education and Economic Opportunity that encourages and assists businesses in establishing apprenticeships, especially in non-traditional industries such as information technology, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, construction, hospitality, and trade and logistics. The initiative also educates Floridians about the many financial and career benefits of apprenticeships.
“Governor DeSantis has been charting the course for Florida to become the No. 1 state in the nation in workforce education by 2030,” said DEO Executive Director Lawson. “Apprenticeships have proven to be successful, and we will continue to work with our partners throughout the state to ensure that all Floridians have the opportunities they need to be successful.”
Inspired Technologies worked with CareerSource Capital Region and Lively Technical College to create a “laddered apprenticeship.”
“The apprentices start by earning a base credential, and they can go on to earn more credentials and go higher up the ladder within the organization,” said Shelly Bell, Director of Career, Technical and Adult Education for Leon County Schools. “From the business perspective, they are getting a better candidate. The employee is getting better training – and at the end of their apprenticeship, either a job or credentials recognized throughout their industry.”
“CareerSource Capital Region works closely with employers in our area to help them solve their talent and skills needs and match them with candidates who are a good fit,” said CEO Jim McShane. “An apprenticeship program was perfect for Inspired Technologies and is a great model for other high-growth industries in our area.”
About CareerSource Florida
CareerSource Florida provides oversight and policy direction for talent development programs administered by the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida’s 24 local workforce development boards and their 100 career centers. Together, the CareerSource Florida network connects employers with qualified, skilled talent and Floridians with employment and career development opportunities to achieve economic prosperity.