USFSM wins CareerSource Suncoast workforce innovation Education Partner of the Year award

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USFSM wins CareerSource Suncoast workforce innovation Education Partner of the Year award
SARASOTA, Fla. (May 02, 2019) – The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee today was named CareerSource Suncoast Education Partner of the Year during the 2019 State of Talent Conference Innovation in Workforce luncheon at Art Ovation Hotel.


USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, accepted the workforce excellence award, which recognizes USFSM’s outstanding commitment to building a stronger community and workforce through a multitude of academic programs and hands-on learning experiences.


“It’s a great honor to be recognized by our community partners, and we value their participation in everything we do to help prepare our students for success when they enter the workforce,” she said. “We want all of our students to stay here in Sarasota-Manatee and contribute to the future of this great region.”


USFSM actively partners with businesses and organizations to identify their employment needs and tailors programs and services to train students to meet those needs on an ongoing basis. Many of these partnerships result from the work of the USFSM Career Services team, led by Coordinator of Career Services Toni Ripo.


“These programs are transformational,” Ripo said. “Students who take part in them are often stepping out of their comfort zone. They develop relationships with workforce partners that impact their lives. Participation in these programs develops the skills employers seek in applicants and distinguishes students in the job market. As a result, our workforce partners begin to build pipelines of talent and can make better hiring decisions through meaningful assessments of our students’ abilities.”


Here are a few examples of USFSM’s unique efforts:

  • USFSM partnered with FCCI Insurance Group in developing the Risk Management and Insurance program, with 22 students having already graduated and 78 students currently enrolled. The program creates a pipeline designed to help address the shortfall of knowledgeable workers in the risk management and insurance industries by 2025.
  • USFSM partnered with David Kotok, co-founder of Cumberland Advisors, to convert a classroom into a Bloomberg Lab with 12 terminals. This access enables students to conduct in-depth research in economics, finance and markets with real-time data, reducing onboarding time for applicants in the financial sector. Since the terminals were installed, 151 students have earned Bloomberg Market Concepts Certification.
  • USFSM partners with The Resort at Longboat Key Club as an official “teaching hotel” where College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership students rotate through operations and administrative divisions. More than 300 students have become better prepared for careers in the tourism and hospitality industry through this partnership.
  • The Career Services Office hosted a unique event, “Turn the Tables,” that flipped the traditional career fair format by giving students the opportunity to set up displays promoting their skills and experience while recruiters circulated through the room to meet potential candidates. Turn the Tables was an unqualified success, with 17 of the 22 student attendees who responded to a post-event survey receiving an offer, and 14 of them accepting either an internship or a full-time job.
  • USFSM offers several programs (Career Shadowing with Manatee and Sarasota county chambers of commerce, Career Connection Days with Manatee and Sarasota county governments and a recently-completed Pilot Mentoring Program) pairing students with local high-level business leaders to gain experience and knowledge while developing skills in the authentic context of the workplace. Many students have landed jobs and internships through these programs.
  • USFSM annually hosts the Northwestern Mutual Leadership Series, a series of workshops conducted by Northwestern Mutual designed to help students improve in areas such as planning, goal-setting, time management and leadership skills on and off the job.
  • Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking is a unique, university-wide program to help students excel in an area that is consistently identified by employers as one of the most desirable traits in employees: critical thinking skills.

USFSM was among three organizations and one individual honored during Thursday’s luncheon by CareerSource Suncoast. Here is the full list of winners:

  • Education Partner of the Year: University of South Florida
  • Business Partner of the Year: SouthTech
  • Community Collaborator of the Year: Gulf Coast Builders Exchange
  • Leader in Action Award: Susie Bowie with Manatee Community Foundation


About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee and Sarasota counties, Venice and online. USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of more than 40 academic programs. Website:
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