Workforce Florida President & CEO Chris Hart applauds the state's 24 regional workforce boards for finding jobs for 179,000 people so far this year: "That's great news for those people who have been hired but it's also very good news for the businesses that needed that kind of talent."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Nearly 800,000 Floridians remain out of work, but the state's workforce system is making progress on helping many of them find jobs.
A new report shows 179,000 Floridians have found jobs in the last six months with help from the state's 24 regional workforce boards.
The report also finds the Pasco Hernando Workforce Board is having the most success at finding jobs for people, but Pinellas County is close behind.
President and CEO of Workforce Florida Chris Hart says Pasco/Hernando is using a unique approach to help connect businesses and job seekers. He says it's using a call center to help people find jobs.
"The advantage that that's given them is it allows them to have extended office hours from Monday through Saturday where they can help answer questions, link up the job seekers with the job opportunities and it seems to be paying real dividends."
Hart says other workforce boards are taking note of Pasco/Hernando's example and trying their own innovations.
For example, the workforce board in Palm Beach County has developed a system using account managers who work directly with businesses to figure out exactly what they need talent-wise before filling positions.
In Pinellas County, WorkNet Pinellas has worked closely with Humana Health Insurance to find the right people for open jobs. Humana says of the 1,200 people hired over the past three years, 400 have come through WorkNet Pinellas.
Hart says examples like that make him feel very good about the performance of the state's workforce boards this year and optimistic about the future of Florida's workforce system.
"We have been consistently at the top nationwide here in the state of Florida and so these innovative approaches to helping job seekers find the job opportunities that are out there. It's keeping us up there in the top three. I think at the end of the day that's good for all Floridians, it's good for Florida businesses and it's good for all of us here."
Florida's unemployment rate stands at 8.6 percent, the lowest rate since 2008. But another state report finds the rate is dropping because so many job seekers have given up looking for work and dropped out of the labor force.
Gov. Rick Scott has said he believes the state's employment picture is heading in the right direction but there's still a long way to go.
Workforce Florida consists of government and business leaders who supervise the state's workforce system and its 100 One-Stop Career Centers that help people find jobs.
Of the 179,000 people who landed jobs through workforce boards this year, more than 40,000 had been collecting unemployment benefits, now called Reemployment Assistance as part of a new law that renamed the state's unemployment compensation program on July 1.