Walter Higdon was stuck.
Stuck in a job that provided no upward growth. Stuck working odd hours that took him away from his children. And stuck earning minimum wage with no benefits.
He needed to provide more for his family. He wanted more for himself. But he wasn’t sure where to start.
“I got to take the boys to school in the mornings, and sometimes it was the only time I got to see them because they were in bed and asleep when I got home from work,” Higdon recalled.
Then he saw an ad in the newspaper for CareerEdge. This was his chance.
CareerEdge is part of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce Foundation. It connects employers along Florida’s west coast with a skilled workforce. CareerEdge training focuses on manufacturing, health care, insurance, automotive work and more. Higdon enrolled in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning course.
CareerEdge also works with schools to ensure students are prepared with sought-after vocational skills. Mireya Eavey launched CareerEdge 10 years ago; she has been part of the area’s economic growth ever since.
“When we invest in workers and help them succeed, we can create a gateway to a career that provides higher wage income and better benefits,” Eavey said. “That has been my mission since launching CareerEdge. We use an incredible model that has a two-pronged approach: help job seekers and support business owners. It is as simple as that.”
Regions Bank is a financial supporter of CareerEdge.
“Education and workforce readiness are two of the most crucial priorities we have for community engagement,” said Gerhard Toth, market executive for Regions Bank in Sarasota. “Our work with CareerEdge is an extension of our belief that better education and increased job opportunities lead to a stronger economy and a better quality of life. CareerEdge is a model for how to cultivate local talent for jobs that are in demand.”
Thanks to financial supporters like Regions, CareerEdge training is tuition free.
Jennifer Behrens, owner of Atlantic Mold and Machining Corp., regularly turns to CareerEdge. Otherwise, training programs for a small business like hers would be too expensive.
“Career Edge training provides a real-world application to what students experience in the classroom,” Behrens said. “I believe the more training my employees can receive, the more growth my business will receive. CareerEdge is a win-win.”
Eavey said certifications provided by CareerEdge are important “so our students never have to go back to the bottom.”
Students like Walter Higdon, instead, are looking up.
“CareerEdge helped me see my future,” he shared. “People ask me all the time about my experience with CareerEdge. I tell them it can’t hurt to try one of the programs. In my case, it changed my life for the better.”
Soft skills are part of CareerEdge, too. Eavey worked with Higdon on interview skills, attire and more.
“Soft skills training is not part of many education curriculums, so many students fail to grasp their importance in terms of career opportunities and growth,” Toth explained. “CareerEdge is unique in that it provides holistic support to help students meet challenges that are holding them back from job success.”
Higdon recently started a new job working for an HVAC company. He is making more money, has more time with his family and is receiving health and retirement benefits for the first time in his career.
A year ago, it was just a dream. With commitment and support from CareerEdge, it is now a reality.
“When I think of the work we do and why I get up in the morning, Walter is the reason,” Eavey concluded. “We don’t give up on people. We help them succeed.”
For more information on Career Edge, contact Mireya Eavey at [email protected].