By Anthony Clark
The Institute for Workforce Innovation has decided to bow out of running the CareerSource one-stop job centers in Gainesville and Starke, two months after it was awarded the contract to continue operating the centers.
Jonathan Leslie, executive director and CEO, said the nonprofit agency’s board instead wants to focus on growing IWI’s Project YouthBuild program.
Focused Management Solutions, which already serves as the administrative entity for the local workforce region, will take over the job centers temporarily starting Sept. 1 until a long-term solution can be found, according to a news release.
Kim Tesch-Vaught, executive director of CareerSource North Central Florida, said job seekers and business clients should not notice a change in service. All one-stop jobs will be posted, and IWI staff are invited to apply for their jobs under Focused Management Solutions, she said.
Leslie said about 30 of IWI’s 35 employees work at the one-stop centers.
The workforce region is governed by a board appointed by county commissioners in Alachua and Bradford counties and oversees workforce programs funded mostly by the U.S. Department of Labor. The board awards contracts to provide the services, including the one-stop centers’ job matching and training programs.
The IWI was awarded the one-stop contract in 2009 with four additional one-year extensions. The contract was worth $1.8 million in the 2013-14 program year.
IWI was the only agency to bid on the one-stop centers earlier this year, and the CareerSource board awarded the contract in June. Then last week, the board received a letter from IWI’s board that it did not want to continue as operator. In a special meeting Monday, the CareerSource board voted to temporarily put FMS in charge of the centers.
“This is the best course of action for our clients and the region to ensure continuity and commitment to a high level of service. The board is very familiar with FMS, so this will be a seamless transition,” board Chairman Thomas McIntosh said in a news release.
Tesch-Vaught said IWI had high performance ratings and will continue to be a CareerSource partner, such as through the YouthBuild program.
IWI was recently awarded a $1.1 million Labor Department grant for the program, which helps high school dropouts complete their educations and earn job skills certifications. IWI also operates the Melrose Senior Community Center — recently renamed The Landing — where it provides independent living skills and meals to seniors in a four-county area.
Tesch-Vaught said the change will give the CareerSource board the opportunity to reassess how it provides career services, in consultation with CareerSource Florida and the state Department of Economic Opportunity.
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