TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Welding is just one of the many in demand jobs right now across Florida.
To keep the economy booming in the future, the state needs to create 2 million more jobs by 2030, something the Department of Education is working to do with one local school right now.
A lot of those jobs are labor focused like welding, a field that someone can gets skills in quickly and at a lower cost. This can make a world of difference for someone who needs a job and can't afford a 4-year education.
DOE hopes to keep the economy moving forward by reducing stigma around technical career jobs, and by getting more people the skills they need to start working in the field in as short as 20 weeks for some programs.
"I was like oh my god this is such a good opportunity to make a career for myself," said Nicole George, who's working full-time as a welder after graduating from Lively Technical College in Tallahassee last month. This, after she finished FSU with a bachelor's degree during the pandemic and couldn't find a job.
"Couldn't really do much with my degree I was in theatre and like all of the theatres were shut down," added George.
Her classmate at Lively Tech, Jessica Brinson, went through the same thing, getting a bachelor's degree from FAMU during the pandemic but not being able to find a job. Now she's a full-time welder, too.
"Within two weeks of working at my job I literally made as much as I invested into my education," said Brinson.
"CTE is a great equalizer because what it can do is it can allow opportunities for people who have been maybe in undeserved populations the opportunity to have access," said Kevin O'Farrell, the Chancellor of Career Technical and Adult Education (CTE) at the Florida Department of Education (FDOE).
He said to help meet the growing need to fill labor jobs in the state, DOE is teaming up with local schools like Lively to show young adults there are shorter, more affordable programs that lead to a high paying career whether it's welding, construction, or agriculture which helps drive the economy forward.
"They're really building the infrastructure and backbone of our society."
Jessica and Nicole both used the City of Tallahassee's TEMPO scholarship program to help pay for their welding certifications at Lively. Something Brinson said as a woman has a huge impact on her life. "You want to look pretty, I want to look pretty so I try to make everything look nice I try to do my due diligence in everything that I do. I mean you do get burned you do drop heavy things, things happen, but when you have a lot of care and you love what you do those things are very small," said Brinson.
I asked Nicole if other young women should get involved in a tough but rewarding career like this. She responded, "please do it because there is a support system and everyone is so nice to you."
FDOE has two resources online called Get There and Future of Work Florida that can connect students and parents to local schools and programs to help meet the needs of the growing job market in the state. It also opens the door to help eliminate stigma around labor jobs by showing people there are more affordable ways to get a high value career.