In collaboration with The Hechinger Report, an overview of the rise of crash training programs for people changing careers in the event of a pandemic – Central Florida News

Cory Orr is a student in the Mechatronics program in Valencia. Photo: Tina Russell for the Hechinger report

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4 million people in the United States quit their jobs in September during what is known as the Great Resignation. The majority of these workers left their jobs in the hospitality and leisure industry.

The WMFE, working with The Hechinger Report, finds that a crash training program at Valencia College is helping some of these workers get better paying and more stable jobs.


Across the country, the 40 hour work week is what most of us have become accustomed to. But for some people, the reality is quite different.

“I was working maybe 70 hours a week. 72. Something like this. Somewhere between 67 and 72 was my average.

It’s Cory Orr. He says that before the pandemic he worked as a chef at a local restaurant by day, night and weekends, and had his own catering business next door.

Cory Orr is practicing on an electrical panel. Photo: Tina Russell for the Hechinger report

Orr then says the pandemic has struck and business has slowed down. In fact, he says he’s never fully recovered.

“People are weird. We’re weird going out to eat. You go to a restaurant and you’re like, “Oh, we have 30 reservations and you have a full staff and no one is at the restaurant,” you know what I mean? “

Orr says he realized he had to do something different, so he quit his job and enrolled in the crash training program that prepares him to repair complex machinery in industrial factories.

“I would never have thought of changing careers. Mainly, I am 38 years old. If I had been younger, I would have thought: “changing careers is not that bad”. Now it’s like, ‘hey, I’m not as fast or as fast on absorption as I used to be,’ you know what I mean?

Cory Orr says he wants to work as a maintenance technician at Publix after graduation. Photo: Tina Russell for the Hechinger report

Orr is in week 14 of the 22 week program. On February 16, he will graduate with a certification that will net him over $ 22 an hour. What Orr does traditionally takes two years.

Lindsay Daugherty works for the RAND Corporation, a California-based think tank. She says these crash training centers at community colleges across the country have been gaining popularity since the Great Recession.

But Daugherty says they have been given new life and incentives during the pandemic as employers struggle to fill vacant skilled trades positions.

“Through the CARES Act and other federal funding, and then also through the states that put their own funding in their budgets, they’ve really put a lot of money into both developing these programs in community colleges and other education and training providers. ”

Each of the students in Cory’s class could earn up to $ 20 an hour after graduation. Photo: Tina Russell for the Hechinger report

In Valence, registrations at its five accelerated training centers have nearly doubled since the start of the pandemic. Carolyn McMorran, vice president of vocational and continuing education, says 90% of students attend the training center completely free. This is thanks to the CARES Act and American Rescue Plan dollars as well as state funding and corporate donations.

“We have a lot of private companies like Pepsi, Bank of America, Truist, a lot of different organizations, Lockheed Martin, that have seen that if we invest in this, we get over it because we help them solve this pool of. talents publish. “

For Cory Orr, the math is simple. Being a certified service technician means more time to spend with friends and family.

“I won’t say I’m tired of cooking, I’m passionate about cooking, I love to cook. But I like the idea of ​​being able to have friends rather than having to, you know, hit the grindstone every day, so to speak.

Enrollments in the Valencia Fast Track program have almost doubled since the start of the pandemic. Photo: Tina Russell for the Hechinger report

Orr also says that changing careers will allow him to reach his financial goal of earning over $ 50,000 a year before he turns 40.



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