Chipola College uses $1.7 million in funding to expand workforce programs

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 8:17 PM CDT
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MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Earlier this week, Governor Ron DeSantis made a stop in Bay County to talk about Hurricane Michael recovery and ways the state is helping the area continue to rebound. One of the things he announced was that more than $4 million will go to Tallahassee Community College and Chipola College in Marianna to support disaster recovery by providing workforce training.

Hurricane Michael left its mark on local communities and more than two years later, it’s still a struggle to rebuild.

“Any time you talk to somebody needing work done, they can’t find the subcontractors. They can’t find electricians or plumbers,” Chipola College Building Construction Technology instructor Scott Phelps said.

It’s a problem Chipola College President Dr. Sarah Clemmons said she sees first hand.

“Right now, there are so many more people that need homes than there are homes,” Dr. Clemmons said.

One solution is getting more people to enter the local construction workforce through training at Chipola College.

“They can come here because they work with their hands. They’re interested in it. And that brings another person to the trade. Get them out here in the real world. Gives them real-world money, real-world experience,” Chipola College welding technology instructor Curtis Jenkins said.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity awarded Chipola College more than $1.7 million as part of the Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program. It’s a big boost for Chipola’s Building Construction Technology and Welding Technology programs. While the construction program just kicked off this past year, the welding program at Chipola is more than ten years old. And with the help of this new funding, both of these technology programs will be able to expand far more than school leaders ever anticipated.

“This will provide us with more equipment so that we can serve more students. It will provide us with an additional faculty person so that this will not be a limited-access program,” Dr. Clemmons said.

The extra money will pay for more than the program itself, it also helps the students. Dr. Clemmons said they’ll be able to work with students to help them with tuition and fees.

Bouncing back from Hurricane Michael requires building up the construction workforce, which is an effort made easier with more training, close to home.

Chipola College’s Building Construction Technology program is open for Fall 2021 applications.

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