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NWFSC & FDC Transforming Lives: Inmates Gain Job-Ready Skills for a Brighter Future

NWFSC and FDC are making a difference by offering inmates a pathway to success! Through specialized training, certifications, and job placement assistance, they're breaking down barriers and paving the way for a brighter future.

In a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering rehabilitation and reducing recidivism rates, Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) has announced the expansion of its workforce training programs for inmates in collaboration with the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC). The program will equip inmates with sought-after skills in the Trades, Heavy Equipment Machinery, Welding, and Construction sectors, offering them a passport to prosperity upon reintegration into society.

Inmates selected for the program at Okaloosa Correctional Institution and Santa Rosa Prison will undergo training based on criteria such as time served, behavior, and career interest, as determined by the FDC. Upon successful completion of the training and acquisition of necessary certifications, NWFSC will play a pivotal role in coordinating job placement for these individuals as they complete their sentences.

Dr. Devin Stephenson, President of Northwest Florida State College, emphasized the significance of broadening the talent pipeline to meet workforce demands in alignment with Governor DeSantis’ vision of leading in workforce education by 2030. “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,” stated Dr. Stephenson.

In 2023, NWFSC, in partnership with the FDC, successfully facilitated the transition of 68 offenders through a six-month program, providing them with nationally recognized industry credentials, including OSHA 10 and NCCER certifications. Thanks to an $800,000 grant from the FDC, this initiative will now expand, offering increased workforce training opportunities to nearly 120 individuals annually.

Ricky Dixon, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, highlighted the immediate and long-term benefits of workforce education for inmates. “It leads to positive outcomes while incarcerated, results in positive outcomes for them and their families after release, and meets the needs of employers seeking qualified individuals for in-demand positions,” Dixon said.

Research indicates that educational programs within correctional facilities significantly improve post-release outcomes, with participants being nearly 50% less likely to return to prison. Dr. Henry Mack, Vice President of Academic Affairs at NWFSC, emphasized the importance of providing adult offenders with the opportunity for rehabilitation and dignified work, stating, “That our College can provide in-demand certifications to help change lives is not only an economic benefit but also why this College exists.”

The certification pathways offered through this collaboration align with NWFSC’s traditional career and technical education programs, providing inmates with an accelerated pathway to further educational opportunities upon release.

 

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