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A Skilled Workforce is the Solution for Miami’s Struggling Households

By Symeria Hudson  – President and CEO of United Way Miami

The foundation of any thriving community is quality education, health and financial stability, and there is no surer road to a community’s success than a skilled workforce with ample access to jobs with opportunities for growth.

For nearly 100 years, United Way Miami has maintained a steadfast commitment to uplifting Miami-Dade County’s most vulnerable families with an extensive reserve of educational resources, financial training, health services, emergency assistance and many more essentials.

However, recently released ALICE data laid bare the monumental number of Miami-Dade households struggling to make ends meet.

ALICE refers to Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – the hardworking members of the community who are employed yet can’t keep up with the rising cost of living. To put things in perspective, nearly half a million Miami-Dade families are defined as ALICE; they are either in or one emergency away from poverty.

The data also showed the Household Survival Budget is $76,284, which reflects the estimated minimum cost for a family of four to live and work in Miami-Dade County. Currently, the median income for a household in Miami-Dade is far less at $59,044. Racial disparities continue to persist in the rates of financial hardship; 61 percent of Black and 52 percent of Hispanic households were below the ALICE threshold, compared to 38 percent of White households.

These matters are further compounded by an inflated economy, a lack of skilled workers and widening wage gaps. Solutions are clearly needed, with United Way Miami pivoting to be an answer.

These economic factors led United Way Miami to create an impactful innovation in workforce training, UpSkill Miami. This transformative new fund allows Miami-Dade County residents to expand their skills and land jobs in industry-leading fields, creating a path to a more prosperous future for generations to come.

The goal of the fund is to reskill and upskill the Miami-Dade County workforce through strategic partnerships that provide access to training, support and employment opportunities in key industries of high need. The fund launched in July, with seed funding coming from a historic investment from MacKenzie Scott’s foundation.

Phase one partners Baptist Health, Jackson Health System, Miami Dade College, The CDL School and United HomeCare are helping train a strong local workforce, starting with the healthcare and transportation/CDL industries.

There are opportunities to study or learn high demand career tracks such as phlebotomy and radiology, as well as gain positions with growth potential, like certified nursing assistants and home health aides.These roles have the power to turn local residents into skilled workers who can contribute to their families. In the first phase, 500 students are expected to join the ranks of those United Way Miami has helped to grow and succeed. ALICE families are a prime example of who UpSkill Miami will be helping.

Those eligible for the program must live or work in Miami-Dade County, earn below $35,000, or are currently unemployed. UpSkill Miami’s target population is people of color, female heads of household, veterans and youth ages 18-24 or those aging out of foster care.

With an under-skilled workforce struggling with the rising cost of living, United Way Miami saw an opportunity – and an obligation – to help. Hundreds of jobs are going unfilled due to a lack of trained people, but UpSkill Miami’s unique approach makes it a vital resource for so many families, providing access to life-changing job opportunities. The good news is the potential impact on Miami-Dade County is truly limitless.

To read the original South Florida Hospital News and Healthcare Report article, click here.

September 21, 2023