The Florida Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Veterans Florida to launch a new coalition that will help ‘bridge’ the gap between transitioning servicemembers and Florida employers.
The business advocacy group announced on Wednesday the formation of the Florida SkillBridge coalition. The partnership will include several industry leaders and partners aimed at providing assistance for transitioning servicemembers and employers into Florida’s growing workforce. The coalition’s mission will be to promote the Department of Defense (DOD) SkillBridge Program to employers and transitioning servicemembers across Florida, as well as assisting businesses in obtaining DOD SkillBridge approval for skilled workforce training.
“More than 1.5 million veterans call Florida home, making Florida the third largest veteran population in the nation,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mark Wilson. “We have 371,000 jobs open in Florida and 614,000 people looking for jobs. To bridge that gap, Florida is investing in and upskilling its transitioning servicemembers with new credentials and matching the skilled talent to the corporate needs in Florida. This investment is more important now than ever as we secure Florida’s future and prepare for the additional 4 million people who are expected to call Florida home by 2030.”
The DOD SkillBridge Program, established in 2014, allows transitioning servicemembers during their final 180 days of active duty service to work as an apprentice, intern, or fellow at a private or public employer while maintaining their DOD salary and benefits with the goal of them smoothly easing into their new career. Connecting servicemembers with industry partners in real-world job experiences, the DOD SkillBridge program allows those servicemembers to gain valuable civilian experience through specific industry training while connecting them to industry partners who are provided an opportunity to access and leverage the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce at no cost.
“Florida’s statewide SkillBridge coalition will lead the state’s efforts to increase awareness among transitioning servicemembers and employers,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino. “The mission of the SkillBridge initiative is clear: Train, retain, and attract the veteran workforce of tomorrow and maintain Florida’s competitive edge by creating a talent pipeline to fuel economic growth.”
The SkillBridge program has also received support from Republican lawmakers, with State Representative Tyler Sirois and State Senator Tom Wright pushing legislation that would make Veterans Florida the state’s point man on decisions involving SkillBridge.
“This legislation will position veterans to pursue high-tech job opportunities in Florida. This bill will give our veterans greater resources to transition the skills attained in the military into opportunities available in the civilian sector, such as modeling, simulation, and training or aviation. Their talents and abilities will strengthen Florida’s economy,” said Sirois. “On the Space Coast aerospace and defense contractors have benefited from the experience that veterans bring to the workplace— both in terms of technical expertise and military culture. I am proud to work with my friend, Senator Tom Wright, to support our veterans and military families with this important legislation.”