Meet Sam (he’s the one standing in the bed of the truck). Sam graduated from high school last year and was unsure of where to go next. Although he knew he wanted to pursue some sort of technical degree or certification, he needed assistance in narrowing down career choices so he could decide on an educational path to take. Fortunately for Sam, the State of Florida and Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU) are helping him get a clearer vision of his future.
Sam is participating in the Transition Youth Program through the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). In this program, Sam and many others like him are set up with 12 weeks of on-the-job (OTJ) training to help them gain skills and explore different career options. The program relies upon partnerships with non-profits like WOU to match these graduates with employers and ensure the candidates are set up for success.
Through VR, Sam found his way to WOU. I met with him and found that he had no prior work experience, so I placed him in a backroom position at a department store to get his feet wet. Like many others, though, he was let go when the pandemic hit.
I took the opportunity to explore different options that would give Sam real experience in the trades. My thought was that a city, with its many departments, would be able to expose Sam to several career avenues and give him some diverse skills, so I reached out to one near Sam’s home to see if there might be opportunities there for him there.
I connected with Kimberly Gibbons, HR director of the Village of Wellington, and described Sam and the OJT program. Shortly thereafter, Kimberly set Sam up to meet with Matt Estes, Director of Parks & Recreation, and Will, the landscaping supervisor. They decided to bring Sam on initially in the parks and recreation department, and after a month or so, Sam moved on to landscaping. He is now working four days a week, 10-hour days, and loves it!
Sam has learned a lot about what he does, and doesn’t want, in a future career. He discovered that he doesn’t mind getting dirty and working long days, and that he would prefer to work outside and not within an office.
The OJT program has been a win-win situation for both Sam and the Village of Wellington. Sam is developing technical and real-world skills that will help him in years to come and the city has a hardworking employee who is eager to learn. In fact, the Village of Wellington has been so happy with Sam and the OJT program that they have shared their success with other employers within the community who are exploring OJT training options themselves.
Interested in learning more about the OJT program or any other programs we offer here at WOU? If so, please contact me at 561.267.5544.