Rep. Tyler Sirois’ House Bill Designates Veterans Florida as State’s Assistance Organization for DOD SkillBridge Program
By Space Coast Daily // February 11, 2021
Brevard County is home to thousands of active duty, reserve and guard personnel
The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Veterans Florida Launch Florida SkillBridge Coalition Coalition aimed at providing assistance for transitioning service members and employers in Florida
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Veterans Florida announced the launch of Florida SkillBridge coalition, a coalition of industry partners aimed at providing assistance for transitioning service members and employers into Florida’s growing workforce.
The Florida Chamber is uniting Florida’s business community around SB 586 and HB 435 to help ensure Florida’s global competitiveness, prosperity and high-paying jobs, and vibrant and resilient communities for all Americans.
Florida State Representative Tyler Sirois’ House Bill 435 would designate Veterans Florida as the state’s principal assistance organization for the United States Department of Defense’s SkillBridge program to match eligible transitioning service members with businesses offering training and employment within the state.
Sirois is a Republican representing District 51, which includes Port St. John, Cocoa, Rockledge, Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach.
“Brevard County is home to thousands of active duty, reserve and guard personnel, who, along with military families and veterans, enrich our community and help fuel our economy,” said Lynda L. Weatherman, President and CEO, Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.
“SkillBridge will help retain more of these talented individuals in Florida’s communities by helping them transition to the civilian careers where their discipline and work ethic is in high demand.”
The coalition will promote the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program to employers and transitioning servicemembers across Florida, assist businesses in obtaining DOD SkillBridge approval for skilled workforce training, as well as train, retain, and attract the veterans workforce of tomorrow as we aim to keep Florida competitive.
“More than 1.5 million veterans call Florida home, making Florida the third-largest veteran population in the nation,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mark Wilson.
“We have 371,000 jobs open in Florida and 614,000 people looking for jobs. To bridge that gap, Florida is investing in and upskilling its transitioning service members with new credentials and matching the skilled talent to the corporate needs in Florida. This investment is more important now than ever as we secure Florida’s future and prepare for the additional 4 million people who are expected to call Florida home by 2030.”
The DOD SkillBridge Program, established in 2014, allows transitioning service members during their final 180 days of active duty service to work as an apprentice, intern, or fellow at a private or public employer while maintaining their DOD salary and benefits with the goal of them smoothly easing into their new career.
Connecting servicemembers with industry partners in real-world job experiences, the DOD SkillBridge program allows those service members to gain valuable civilian experience through specific industry training while connecting them to industry partners who are provided an opportunity to access and leverage the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce at no cost.
“Florida’s statewide SkillBridge coalition will lead the state’s efforts to increase awareness among transitioning servicemembers and employers,” said Veterans Florida Executive Director Joe Marino.
“The mission of the SkillBridge initiative is clear: Train, retain, and attract the veteran workforce of tomorrow and maintain Florida’s competitive edge by creating a talent pipeline to fuel economic growth.”
Florida’s military installations and defense industries are powerful economic drivers, and businesses throughout Florida need to see Florida’s veterans as the workforce of today and tomorrow.
Servicemembers typically remain in the state where their military service ended and retaining skilled talent in Florida will increase Florida’s economic activity as it rebounds and continues to grow the economy to the 10th largest in the world by 2030.
For more information or to join the Florida SkillBridge Coalition, log on to VeteransFlorida.org