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Northwest Florida State College Partners with the Florida Department of Corrections to Provide Workforce Training

Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) is thrilled to reveal the expansion of its workforce training programs tailored for inmates ready to transition into society. Inmates will be trained in sought-after skills in the Trades and Heavy Equipment Machinery sectors at Okaloosa Correctional Institution. Furthermore, those at Santa Rosa Prison will be able to enhance their abilities in Welding and Construction.

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) will be selecting individuals based on time served, behavior, and career interest. Following the successful achievement of necessary certifications, NWFSC will help coordinate job placement once their sentence is completed.

“Broadening the talent pipeline to meet workforce demand is the only way we will be able to meet Governor DeSantis’ objective of leading in workforce education by 2030,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of Northwest Florida State College. “The College is proud to support these critical training programs and we are grateful to the Florida Department of Corrections for their generous assistance in fostering this collaboration.”

In 2023, NWFSC in collaboration with the FDC successfully facilitated the matriculation of 68 transitioning offenders via a six-month groundbreaking program. This initiative provided them with nationally recognized industry credentials, including OSHA 10 and NCCER certifications. Thanks to a generous grant of $800,000 from the FDC, the program will now provide increased workforce training opportunities for nearly 120 individuals annually.

“We know of the immediate benefits workforce education provides inmates while they are with us,” said Ricky Dixon, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections.” “Not only does it lead to positive outcomes while incarcerated, it results in positive outcomes for them and their families after release, and for employers who need qualified individuals for in-demand positions.”

Educational programs within correctional facilities have been proven to improve inmates’ post-release outcomes. Statistics indicate that those inmates who participate in meaningful, career-driven educational programs are nearly 50% less likely to return to prison.

“Adult offenders are no less deserving of the dignity work it may afford them upon rehabilitation and release. That our College can provide in-demand certifications to help change lives is not only an economic benefit, but also why this College exists,” said Dr. Henry Mack, Vice President of Academic Affairs at NWFSC. “These certification pathways also align with our traditional career and technical education programs. So, if inmates want to return for an additional certificate or degree, they will have an accelerated pathway to opportunity.”

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