Cert Up Tampa aims to train underserved communities for higher paying jobs

Cert Up Tampa is the latest push to train people for high paying jobs in the Tampa area. It's targeting underserved communities in East Tampa, Central Park and Ybor City. 

"Cert" means certification. It's what those like 18-year-old Ahmarya Mayo is hoping to earn in Automotive Collision Technology. She just started a 14-month certification class at Hillsborough Community College.

"I want to start a business out of something I really have passion in," said Mayo. "I really have passion toward cars." 

Instructors said graduates who become good at painting cars can earn six figures, and the job market is hot.

"If you want to be a nurse, if you want be a welder, if you want to work in the transportation industry, come to us," said Hillsborough Community College (HCC) President Kenneth Atwater. "We can teach you too in a skill that will allow you to get a job." 

HCC and the Tampa Bay Economic Prosperity Foundation are looking to reach people in neighborhoods where the "underemployed" may not be feeling the economic boom that downtown Tampa and other parts of the area are experiencing. 

READ: Tampa becomes cybersecurity hotspot, bringing in higher paying jobs

Curtis Howell, 28, is getting a certificate in welding at HCC, and it's an 11-month course that he believes will bring him a brighter future faster than traditional college courses. 

"I was going to school to be a teacher and, nothing against teachers, but I wanted to do something a little more physical," he said. 

Howell wants his own welding shop, which could bring more jobs to the area. Local leaders said the area’s economic future depends on the availability of a skilled and diverse workforce.

There’s also training in fields like cybersecurity, health navigator, clinical research, and cardiac catheterization.

In a matter of months, they can open the door to a life-changing career, and financial aid is available. 

For more information, visit www.certuptampa.com.