Editorial: Thoughts on career boost, bad laws, transparency

March 23, 2013 

Suncoast Community Capital coordinates an inspirational training program that offers people of all ages a quick way to jump-start a new career. For anyone frustrated by the job market, the Bridges to Careers program provides exactly what its name states: a bridge over those troubled waters.

As Herald education reporter Erica Earl pointed out in last week's coverage of the latest graduating class, the training advances careers though motivation and inspiration from academic coaches and volunteer mentors who offer guidance on personal finance and budgeting, math and reading, and resume writing and job interviews. Students also receive intensive training in computers, an essential skill in today's digital world.

Upon completing the five-week career readiness program, graduates receive a Florida Ready to Work certificate.

"Bridges equips students with real-world skills that are relevant and useful to employers these days," Suncoast CEO Mike Kennedy told Earl.

No doubt.

Bridges to Careers was launched in 2011 by CareerEdge, whose mission is "to provide an exceptional labor force to a region's growing industries by leveraging community assets and forming high-performing workforce partnerships." Bridges is but one example of CareerEdge success.

CareerEdge, Jane's Trust and Microsoft Unlimited Potential are funding the program.

"When I first started, I felt like I was looking up at a mountain," new graduate Reggie Johnson told Earl. "But these people inspired me." His fellow graduates echoed that statement, leading us to conclude this is an excellent program.

Want to give it a try? The next class is set for late April, and there's space for 19 students.

Contact Jessica Ruter at 941-744-2666, ext. 2. Mentors are being sought, too.

Fixing what's broken

Florida's Legislature is quick to adopt bad policies but is usually slow in reversing course. During this year's regular session, more than two dozen easily dispensable education laws have been targeted for repeal.

Some were terrible from day one. Like the 2006 law requiring high school students to declare a major to be eligible for a diploma, a laughable mandate that ignores reality.

Many college students drift from major to major as their interests and goals change and mature.

Then there's the 1997 requirement that high school freshmen and their parents write out a four-year academic and career plan.

There might be some 14-year-olds who are zeroed in on a particular path in life, and this exercise has some merit as an exercise in focusing on the future. But this is legislating something parents should be doing anyway as their children progress through school.

While these years-old laws get tossed into the garbage, legislators are also pulling the trigger on newer ones, too, quickly reforming elections, ethics and campaign finance. But the one law that generated the most angst was the 2012 mandate that all foreign tourists obtain an International Driver's Permit. Imagine the heartburn among all our Canadian friends.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed when many law enforcement agencies and state leaders agreed to ignore this terrible case of unintended consequences: lost business in the tourism industry.

The Legislature's motto could be that one phrase that describes a lot of their work: Ruling by the law of unintended consequences.

County earns big honor

As journalists who routinely advocate for government transparency and accountability -- including just last week during the annual Sunshine Week awareness campaign -- it's gratifying to see a local entity earn national accolades for a commitment to openness.

Manatee County government won a Sunny Award from the Sunshine Review for the deep content on its website.

Sunshine Review editors examined more than 1,000 qualifying government websites and issue grades based on openness about budgets, financial audits, contracts, taxes, meetings, public records and more -- 10 information areas in all. Award winners had to score an "A" as Manatee did.

In our experience, Manatee County government excels at transparency. This honor certifies that. Kudos to all the county employees who are duty-bound to this task.

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