Apprenticeship-to-career program prepares future healthcare, IT, manufacturing workers

Employees in healthcare, information technology and manufacturing are in high demand, and soon a new apprenticeship program will help a group of disadvantaged young adults throw their resumes in the ring. 

Romeo Hill, 20, always had a knack for computers, and he now hopes to turn that into a new career through CareerSource of Tampa Bay’s new apprenticeship-to-career program in Hillsborough County. He enrolled to learn software development, and he’s currently splitting his time with online courses and in-person job experience at a tech firm in Brandon.

"I’m doing things I never thought I could before," said Hill. "It’s been a really wonderful experience at 20 years old, and I think that has been the most valuable part of what I’ve been doing with CareerSource, just getting hands-on work and that kind of networking."

This path wasn’t even on his radar. He said he left college during the pandemic and worked a fast-food job to get by.

"It was really unfulfilling. I wasn’t making the money I needed entirely to pay rent and my car insurance and everything else I needed. I was depending on my family for a lot of help, and that felt bad on me. It weighed heavily on me," he said.

Now there’s an opportunity for Hill to double or triple his income. CareerSource leaders said they launched the pilot program on September 1 with 41 currently enrolled, specifically for low-income young adults ages 18 to 24 wanting a change.

"The entry-level wage can be $40,000 plus, and within the IT industry you can definitely build that pretty quickly," said Don Shepherd, the senior director of special projects at CareerSource of Tampa Bay.

In eight to 12 weeks young adults learn trades and get certified for jobs in high demand.

"IT, professional services, even manufacturing are all growing industries and it is very hot within Hillsborough," said Shepherd.

Hill said he has less than a month left in training, and he’ll leave with a brighter outlook on life.

"I’m really optimistic that I’ll be doing something I’m competent and proficient with by the end of this program and that’s going to be treating me right and getting me a valuable job," said Hill. 

CareerSource is now enrolling for the next round of apprentices. You have to be a Hillsborough County resident 18 to 24 years old with a low income to qualify for the apprenticeship to career program. Students enrolled can earn $15 working three days a week at their job site with two days of coursework learning.