NEW PORT RICHEY — When it comes to finding new employees to fill various positions in the manufacturing sector, that can be the biggest issue companies face — simply finding the qualified candidates.
Tom Mudano, president and chief executive of AmSkills, passed that information along during a presentation last week while explaining the nonprofit’s mission to help address that specific recruitment problem.
“We’re trying to create a large pipeline; the biggest pipeline we can of vetted candidates,” Mudano said.
That conduit began supplying manufacturers with trained employees when AmSkills was created in 2014. The group continues doing so seven years later while also having its sights set on expansion.
AmSkills, which hosts mobile training boot camps throughout the tri-county area of Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas, is about two months away from beginning construction of its new Innovation Training Center in Holiday.
AmSkills purchased an existing 13,000-square-foot building on 3.26 acres at 4606 Darlington Road with plans to create an eventual workforce training district, Mudano said. The building was formerly home to the Polish American Club, and AmSkills’ three-phased redevelopment plan expects to cost $2 million. The project also received $450,000 in the recently signed state budget.
“The goal is that we need it to be a place to attract people,” Mudano said. The type of people Mudano was referring to can be any age and a group of 10 happened to be right down the hall from the conference room where the chief executive was speaking.
One way AmSkills recruits and trains future employees is through Career Discovery Bootcamps hosted at various sites throughout Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Interested individuals first attend a one-day workshop where they are assessed and vetted before program leaders determine who qualifies for the following two-week Career Discovery Bootcamp.
The boot camps are meticulous and thorough, requiring 40-hour weeks from participants. Not only do boot camps cover a variety of hands-on training, they help participants polish resumes and prepare for job interviews.
The latest boot camp wrapped up last week in New Port Richey. AmSkills was using workspace provided by the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind and a boot camp of 10 potential future employees was in its final three days.
“It’s awesome, they really help us a lot,” said Tyler Garcia, a boot camp trainee. “You don’t find many of these places that have all these resources and all this stuff to help you. There are only 10 of us in this class, so that’s a lot of resources for so few people.”
Boot camps typically max out at around 24 participants, Mudano said, and this group’s smaller number meant even greater odds for job placement, statistically speaking. A total of about 70 positions from seven different employers needed to be filled, Mudano said.
That ratio of available jobs per candidate is greater than normal, but, according to Mudano, AmSkills’ placement rate out of boot camps sits at 80%. And of those recruits hired, 87% are retained.
Greg Lawrence, another trainee, said he found out about AmSkills from a state employee and had been waiting for about three months for a boot camp in Pasco County. There was a boot camp about to start in Pinellas County when Lawrence discovered AmSkills, but the organization strives to place trainees in jobs close to home.
The AmSkills Mobile Workshop will set up its next boot camp in Hillsborough County in mid-July. The one-day production workshop will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., July 10, at the University Area Complex, 14013 N. 22nd St., Tampa. Day 1 of the Career Discovery Bootcamp begins at 9 a.m., July 19, at the same location near the University of South Florida.