2018 H1-B USDOL Ready to Work Innovation Award

James Schindler, Business Services Manager with CareerSource North Central Florida, accepted an Innovation Award on behalf of CareerSource North Central Florida that was presented by the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.

Schindler was invited to attend the Labor Department’s March 2018 H-1B Ready to Work Grantee Convening and was recognized for his collaboration with CareerSource NCFL and their introduction of the “Reverse Job Fair,” a concept where job seekers set up tables to showcase themselves to businesses seeking to hire.

“I learned about the reverse job fair from a site visit by CareerSource North Central Florida leadership to RTI Surgical regarding STEM Ready. Instead of an employer engaging in discussion at a typical job fair,” said Dante Buckely, a manufacturing engineer at RTI Surgical, “STEM Ready applicants showcased their skillsets in various ways and how they are getting ready to take the next step in their careers.”

“Based on listening to each applicant’s elevator pitch, I provided honest feedback from a perspective as an engineer as well as a resident of the Greater Gainesville community for the past 17 years.“

The Reverse Job Fair concept was featured by the Labor Department to 23 other grantees from across the country. The award recognized Schindler and the CareerSource NCFL team for developing and deploying a new and promising practice. CareerSource NCFL piloted the concept with CareerSource North Central Florida under the workforce board’s $10 million H-1B Ready to Work grant locally branded as “STEM Ready.”

The “Reverse Job Fair” concept was recognized as an innovative approach to help participants who completed entrepreneurship and STEM-focused skills training programs that fall under CareerSource NCFL’s STEM Ready umbrella. “Reverse Job Fairs” allow participants to practice their entrepreneurial skills, including selling themselves to potential employers, developing relationships more quickly with businesses and, ultimately, obtaining employment aligned with their new skills.

In 2009, CareerSource North Central Florida (then known as FloridaWorks) was recognized as a Region of Excellence by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workforce.