Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Valencia College officially opened the doors of the Center for Accelerated Training – Northwest Orlando — where we expect to train more than 500 adults each year in fields such as construction, manufacturing, logistics, information technology and healthcare — on Friday, November 12, 2021, during a celebration attended by more than 200 people.
Special guests included Congressman Darren Soto; State Reps. Geraldine Thompson; Kristen Arrington; and Anna Eskamani; City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; City of Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole; City of Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill; Osceola County Chair and Commissioner Brandon Arrington; and Mexican Cónsul Juan Sabines Guerrero, as well as representatives from the offices of Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Val Demings.
The event kicked off with food trucks lunch for the attendees at the 26,400 square-foot facility, which is located in the Princeton Oaks industrial park near the intersection of John Young Parkway and West Colonial Drive. Following the lunch, the main program began with remarks from community and Valencia leaders, including Mayor Dyer, Commissioner Hill, Congressman Soto, Valencia College District Board of Trustees Chair Daisy Lopez-Cid; and CareerSource Central Florida Senior Director Nilda Blanco.
“In support of Central Florida’s projected population growth of approximately 1,500 people per week and the need for skills-based training in the region, establishing this 26,000-square-foot Center for Accelerated Training will provide career opportunities for the local residents, particularly in our Pine Hills, Parramore, West Lakes, Eatonville and Apopka communities,” shared College President Kathleen Plinske. “This will help ensure that essential industries in Central Florida have the talent they need to make our region economically strong and resilient and that our residents have access to stable, high-wage and high-demand jobs.”
The center’s classes, which range from four to 20 weeks in length, feature a hands-on approach and quick job placement through the strong relationships that Valencia has built with employers and partners including CareerSource Central Florida, Jobs Partnership, Community Action of Orange County, Community Vision, Parramore Engagement Council and others. Thanks to funding from CareerSource Central Florida, along with grants from private donors, most students in the program are eligible for financial aid to pay their tuition.
For example, Vice President of Global, Professional and Continuing Education Joe Battista invited students who have been awarded scholarships through the Metallica Scholars Initiative — which was was designed to directly support students while also elevating the importance of career and technical education — to the stage. Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation, along with Wolverine — a workforce boots and apparel company that has donated proceeds to Metallica’s foundation — also awarded each of the scholars tickets to Metallica’s Friday, November 12 or Sunday, November 14, 2021, show in Daytona Beach along with Metallica T-shirts and boots.
Since 2016, Valencia College’s Accelerated Skills Training programs have trained more than 2,200 individuals with a 90% completion rate and an 81% job placement rate. Average starting wages range from $15 to $20 an hour.
“This is more than a grand opening,” Commissioner Hill exclaimed during her remarks to the crowd. “This is the beginning of hope, right here in the Mercy Drive corridor.”