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Giving students real world, real work experiences benefits us all

Giving students real world, real work experiences benefits us all

By Bill Goede, President of Bank of America Tampa Bay

At Bank of America, we are dedicated to driving responsible growth among the Tampa Bay community’s youth workforce through job skills training and partnerships with local nonprofits. This commitment underlies our steadfast support of the Summer Career Acceleration Program, a dynamic, life-shaping program of the Pinellas Education Foundation and Pinellas County Schools.

Connecting students and young adults with the skills and resources they need to succeed is essential to fostering economic advancement. We know there is no better way to prepare for the workforce than with hands-on experience, which provides essential career-readiness training that positions students for a far greater chance of long-term success in whatever field they pursue.

Whether the goal is to earn certifications and pursue technical careers, or further education in college, the fact remains that real-world work experience provides a vital foundation for many youths. The Summer Career Acceleration Program not only benefits the high school students who participate in internships — 101 in all this summer — but also the participating local businesses that develop and recruit future employees.

On-the-job training offers essential skills that can’t be taught in a classroom setting: learning to dress appropriately in a work environment, developing communications abilities, prioritizing tasks, and gaining experience in managing finances.

Our support of the Summer Career Acceleration Program is one way we demonstrate our commitment to furthering a diverse pipeline of talent. The fact is, mastering a trade can have as significant an impact on lifetime earnings as obtaining a college degree. But an unfortunate reality exists in this regard: Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that nearly 45 percent of the workforce is characterized as low or under skilled – with Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals comprising the majority of this labor category. This situation was heightened as these communities suffered a disproportionately heavy percentage of unexpected job losses resulting from the pandemic.

Against this backdrop, we are determined to create positive and sustainable change through job-skills training. We recognize that early employment leads to success later in life.  By building a resume and professional networks, young people can improve academic performance, strengthen their understanding of teamwork and work ethic and develop critical communications skills.

We see enormous value in local employers working directly with nonprofit organizations, such as the nationally acclaimed Pinellas Education Foundation, to enhance job-skills training programs. We also encourage employers to commit to hiring graduates of these programs. It’s all part of our investment in workforce development – backed by Bank of America’s national $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to further racial equality and economic opportunity.

Tampa Bay is your home, and it’s our home, too. We are dedicated to helping our communities thrive by connecting young adults with the skills and resources they need to succeed. The on-the-job training experience provided by the Summer Career Acceleration Program is an integral part of that puzzle.

Real-world experience leads to employment opportunities for our youth and benefits our community by creating sustainable change that fuels economic advancement.

If you’re interested in getting involved or sponsoring a student in the Summer Career Acceleration Program, please contact Lisa Fasting at lisa.fasting@pinellaseducation.org

Note: Bill Goede, President of Bank of America Tampa Bay, is a member of the Pinellas Education Foundation Board of Directors.