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Mayor announces workforce development initiative

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Alvin Brown announced Friday the launch of his Leaders in Training program, and introduced the inaugural class of 15 juniors and seniors from local colleges and universities.

The city of Jacksonville has joined with CSX, the JAX Chamber, WorkSource, Edward Waters College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville University, Nova Southeastern University, the University of North Florida, Keiser University and the University of Phoenix to create this new public-private partnership for workforce development.

The program will support local college students in reaching their full career potential through skill-building workshops, internship work experience and mentoring from local business executives, city officials said. They said the goal of the program is to grow and retain the regional talent pool of qualified professionals in every business sector over time with emphasis on targeted growth sectors.

Officials said by keeping local talent, Brown's initiative helps Jacksonville build its workforce to reach its potential.

"It's encouraging to see our colleges and universities partner with the business community to focus on grooming today's standouts into tomorrow's leaders," Brown said. "When we work together as a city, we can leverage our scarce resources to create a stronger foundation for our economic future."

The inaugural class of 15 students come from diverse backgrounds and areas of study. The group includes veterans and non-traditional students, and college degree paths in fine arts, health care, business and political science.

Students will attend workshops developed and delivered by volunteer partners from the Jacksonville business community and volunteer mentors from the JAX Chamber. Workshop topics include communications, critical thinking, professional presence and personal leadership.

Leaders in Training will continue next year with more students receiving experience, training and mentoring in the workforce, officials said.