TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Department of Corrections and CareerSource Florida are partnering to provide training opportunities to incarcerated individuals which will enable them to be successful in securing employment upon restoration to their communities. Previously incarcerated men and women have a high unemployment rate, and through partnerships with CareerSource Florida and other support organizations, FDC is working to help returning citizens overcome that statistic and show communities that they are ready to return.
The Florida HIRES program (Helping Inmates Realize Employment Success) provides enhanced employability skills, technical training and pre-release connections to employment opportunities through CareerSource Florida. The recent addition of Heavy Equipment Operator/Commercial Driver’s License certification at Polk Correctional Institution and Sago Palm Re-Entry Center adds to the opportunities available for eligible inmates. The new program includes the installation of a state-of-the art simulation learning lab which will train inmate-students for jobs such as backhoe loader, skid-steer loader, wheel loader, hydraulic excavator and bulldozer operation.
Mark Inch, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, said, “Providing returning citizens with the skills and opportunities they need to find stable and meaningful employment is critical to their success. Our partnership with CareerSource Florida and the Florida HIRES program is an excellent example of how we can work together to help incarcerated individuals begin working on in-demand job skills well before leaving the correctional system. Providing evidence-based training and employment assistance reduces recidivism and makes Florida a safer place to live.”
Designed in alignment with regional and statewide employment demand according to the Bureau of Economic Opportunity’s recent labor market analyses, and with entry level pay that exceeds minimum wage, these programs are launching in early 2021. With the continued assistance of CareerSource Florida, this program is establishing a foundation for successful restoration by providing opportunities for participants to be accepted into state colleges, awarded scholarships, continue and expand educational opportunities, and find full-time employment prior to release.
Michelle Dennard, CareerSource Florida President and CEO, said, “CareerSource Florida is grateful to be partnering with the Florida Department of Corrections on the Florida HIRES program to help returning citizens secure and maintain good jobs. In helping returning citizens make a fresh start with a rewarding job, we are helping end the cycle of recidivism, saving tax dollars and uplifting our communities.”
Partnerships like this one make Florida among the national leaders providing workforce development programming that strengthens economies, promotes restorative justice and restores lives.