Florida Trade Academy welcomed its first cohort of 22 students earlier this month and held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 26 at its East Tampa classroom. Upon completion of the nine-month program, Florida Trade Academy will help place students in jobs in their chosen field where they can then enroll in an apprenticeship having already completed several prerequisite courses.

This past October, Florida Trade Academy launched a pre-apprenticeship program to help open the door for untrained workers entering the construction industry.

Ninety-three percent of construction firms are reported to have open positions, according to a survey taken by the Associated General Contractors prior to Hurricane Ian. The pre-apprenticeship program will help address Florida’s skilled laborer shortage, which was exacerbated by post-Ian rebuilding efforts.

Chris and Bernadette Pello are the couple who started Florida Trade Academy and they are thrilled to see Florida Trade Academy’s pre-apprenticeship program come to life.

“Chris and I were honored to have so many people from the community attend our ribbon-cutting,” Bernadette said. “The potential collaborations with community organizations are endless.”

The introductory program combines hands-on training with classroom-based instruction taught both virtually and in-person. Students try out a range of trade specialties before homing in on their chosen field, including electrical, HVAC, plumbing, sheet metal, sprinkler fitting, roofing, carpentry and pipe fitting.

“There is a growing shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry as many talented individuals struggle to get their foot in the door.” said Chris Pello, CEO of Florida Trade Academy. “This program offers that first-step solution by providing trainees with the skills and connections to find employment and transition into a registered apprenticeship.”

The organization welcomed its first cohort of 22 students earlier this month and held its ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 26 at its East Tampa classroom. Upon completion of the nine-month program, Florida Trade Academy will help place students in jobs in their chosen field where they can then enroll in an apprenticeship, having already completed several prerequisite courses.

Florida Trade Academy is sponsored by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, which operates the apprenticeship program across the Gulf Coast region.

“Florida Trade Academy fills an important gap in training the next generation of skilled workers,” said Steve Cona, CEO of ABC Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. “The program is structured to improve productivity, reduce turnover and lower recruitment costs for employers. It makes the students more employable as they begin working in their trade jobs having already completed basic training programs and OSHA requirements.”

 The program is open to high school graduates entering the workplace for the first time, professionals seeking a career alternative and individuals interested in learning technical skills. If you would like to learn more about Florida Trade Academy, you can visit its website at https://floridatradeacademy.org/. Florida Trade Academy is located at 410 S. Ware Blvd. in Tampa.

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.