Without any formal education after high school, a quarter-century of experience in merchandising and purchasing seemed worthless after Alex Rodriguez got laid off. Every time he applied for a job, he was greeted with a shrug when all he wanted was a chance.

Figuring he could no longer rest on his laurels, Rodriguez is taking advantage of workforce training to realize his “Unlimited Potential.” When he completes his course in supply chain management, he will hold the industry certificates most of those employers who turned him down in the past hoped he could provide for them.

Thanks to a Critical Occupation Response through Education (CORE) grant from the Florida Department of Economic Development, Broward College is offering the training in conjunction with the Urban League of Broward County. Both have joined forces to reach out to residents in the “33311 zip code,” which Broward UP has identified as an area where unemployment is high, and educational attainment levels are low.

Broward UP COREBroward College officials are banking on the services and resources of Broward UP in coordinated efforts — like the one formed with the Urban League – to break down barriers to education and, at the same time, drive social mobility and economic development. Broward UP, the College’s countywide answer for addressing low education attainment and the financial challenges which often accompany it, is grounded in the belief that residents in 11 targeted zip codes need specific support to unleash their “unlimited potential” and pursue higher education to make a better life for themselves.

Autumn Whitfield, director of the CORE program at Broward College, said the Urban League provides the classroom space that enables Broward UP™ ambassadors to go directly into neighborhoods to engage residents who may not have transportation to one of the College’s campuses. Broward College faculty instruct the free courses leading to certification in Supply Chain Management as well as Manufacturing, Information Technology, or White Belt Sigma.

“Broward UP is a great vehicle for offering free professional development classes to the community, particularly those who are job-seeking, students, or those in career transitions and looking to gain certification at no cost or low cost to them,” said Deborah Richelieu, a CORE program developer with the Urban League. “Our clients who enroll in the program boost their resumes and have a better chance at a promotion or new position.”

Whitfield said Broward UP has collaborated with D.R. Horton Homes in Coconut Creek and Fort Lauderdale’s Seagull Alternative and Stranahan high schools to bring workforce training to anyone 16 and older.

Closing the Deal

Kimerlee Richardson thought she had already upped her credentials after graduating from Lehigh University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Her future seemed bright when she returned to her native Virgin Islands, where she anticipated working for Hess Oil Company. To her dismay, the plant closed, and the 28-year-old single mother found herself bouncing from one odd job to another. Depressed and without a career that complimented her talents, Richardson and her son moved in with her mother in Coconut Creek.

“A lot of employers were asking ‘what have I been doing,’” said Richardson, who enrolled in the Supply Chain Management course through CORE while she continued to search for a job in Broward County. “I needed to show potential employers that I was still capable of learning.”

With certificate in hand, Richardson was back knocking on employer doors. This time she had what she needed to close the deal, accepting a project manager position with Sullivan & Associates, a provider of window and door hardware in Fort Lauderdale.

Not only has the new job provided her with a comfortable salary and financial stability, but she has restored the confidence she had lost.

“I was thinking too negatively,” she said. “A lot had to do with not getting a job. But now, I feel like I’m back on the right path.”

Industry certification can put both job-seekers and current employees on a fast track toward career advancement. Learn how Broward UP can work for you.  For more on the CORE program.

Learn about Business courses in Supply Chain Management and other in-demand areas that can boost your career.