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UF Initiates Statewide Welfare-To-Work Training

Eric Lowe

Elizabeth Bolton (352) 392-1987

GAINESVILLE—To assist the almost 200,000 welfare recipients in Florida in achieving economic self sufficiency, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has started a statewide welfare-to-work training initiative under a $2.5 million grant from the Florida Department of Labor and Employment Security.

The purpose of the initiative is to provide valuable labor skills to those on welfare and to assist them in job placement, said Elizabeth Bolton, a professor in the UF/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

“The programs are based on the academic work we do at IFAS and have been adapted for the population in transition from welfare to employment,” Bolton said. “These have been specifically designed for hard-to-employ people who may have significant barriers to employment, including limited education and little work experience.”

The program offers participants four educational tracks to choose from:

  1. The JobStart program is designed to provide the skills needed for finding and maintaining unsubsidized employment, with tips on developing a positive work attitude and developing and implementing job search strategies.
  2. The food safety curriculum focuses on the skills needed for entry-level positions in the food service industry, including safe food handling and storing practices, personal hygiene for food service and proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
  3. The Elder Companion Training Program teaches participants how to be care givers to Florida’s older population, with instruction in assisting elders with daily living and leisure activities.
  4. The “Planting the Seeds for Success” Horticulture Training Program prepares participants for positions in nurseries, home garden centers and grounds maintenance, with topics including plant handling, insect identification, diseases, water management and plant propagation.

For more information about UF’s welfare-to-work initiative, call (352) 846-3773.