Stepping Into the Workforce: Industry-Based Work Experience Programs

This summer proved to be another successful season of employU’s Industry-Based Work Experience Programs. These on-the-job training programs give students the opportunity to gain experience, skills, and industry knowledge while getting paid. Different than the typical summer job, these industry-based programs allow students to explore and discover new career paths while preparing them to enter a field of their choice. Students are also able earn industry certifications through the programs that can add to their value as a candidate for hire in the future. 

employU’s industry-based programs span a variety of industries including the medical field with Project SEARCH, Manufacturing through the Brevard Manufacturing Program, and Construction through programs B.R.I.C.K, V.O.I.C.E, H.O.P.E, Jacksonville Construction, and the newest addition that launched this summer, the Treasure Coast BRICK program.  

Modeled after the successful B.R.I.C.K. program in Brevard, the Treasure Coast program offers several different opportunities for students to gain skills in the construction and skilled trades industry. At Aapex Electric, students are able to learn time management skills, attention to detail, how to communicate in the workplace, and how to maintain the worksite by assisting and shadowing electricians on the job. Also partnered with employU through this program, Habitat for Humanity provides the opportunity for students to learn a variety of trades skills while building homes within the county. Other businesses partnered through this program where students can learn and strengthen their workforce skills are Ric’s Garden World, The Porch Factory, Builder’s First, and 707 Nursery.  

During the pilot year for Treasure Coast BRICK, highschool student and employU customer, Franklin had his first industry-based work experience at 707 Nursery. He has a passion for being outdoors and gardening, so gaining experience at a nursery was the perfect fit for him. During his on-the-job training at 707 Nursery, he learned to weed potted plants, transfer plants from small to large pots, and, his favorite task, cut the plants for regrowth. Franklin caught on quickly and became comfortable with his job duties after just a few weeks of work.  Not only did Franklin learn these valuable skills that may come in handy as he enters the workforce, he also gained confidence, a sense of responsibility, and awareness of some of his strengths as a potential candidate for hire. 

Volusia County students also had the opportunity to participate in a variety of work-based learning experiences through the V.O.I.C.E. and H.O.P.E. programs. Business partners including Kale Café, Holiday Inn and Suites, Budd Servino Advanced Home Exteriors, and Comfort Inn and Suites, hosted employU students this summer, giving them hands-on workplace experience in both the construction and hospitality industries.  

Long-time employU business partner of the Jacksonville Construction program, American Electrical had a big project that included moving inventory this summer. The largest growing electrical company in the greater Jacksonville area, American Electrical moved into a location that is ten times bigger than their previous one. For this large task, they depended on employU customers to not only help make the big move to the new location, but also decorate and set up for their grand opening. The students really came together to work as a team and get these large tasks done effectively and efficiently.  

One thing these summer programs all have in common is that they do so much more than teach students industry skills, they also foster valuable life-long skills that contribute to a strong work ethic, improved interpersonal skills, and an overall better sense of self. Students may participate in multiple work-experiences with the same or different business partners. More than just a summer job, these on-the-job trainings give students the opportunity to discover a career path that is right for them while also giving them a head start on their journey towards future successes in the workforce. To learn more about employU’s industry-based work experience programs visit