Why a major downtown employer is partnering with FSCJ on IT training program

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March 19, 2020

(Courtesy: Jacksonville Business Journal)

Citizens Property Insurance, which employs 800 people in downtown Jacksonville, has seen the writing on the wall when it comes to tech talent on the First Coast.

“It’s becoming more challenging for us to be able to fill some of the critical positions we have here, especially now that we have a strong economy and low unemployment rates here in Florida,” said Citizens Human Resources Director of Learning and Development Palicia Francis. “Whether you’re for-profit or not-for-profit like we are, we’re all competing for that same talent.”

It became clear to Citizens, a not-for-profit government entity created by the Florida legislature in 2002, that to have a talent pipeline in the future, it needed to build one.

Enter Florida State College at Jacksonville.

Citizens is partnering with FSCJ to prepare students for jobs in application development and in IT security and risk. Through a 98-hour program, students will earn industry standard credentials, and some may land paid internships or jobs at Citizens. The inaugural class begins March 17.

Citizens had reached out to a few universities about a partnership, but FSCJ’s proximity to Citizens’ downtown office and its variety of certification and degree programs won out. The company views the partnership as a pilot program.

“Let’s just see what we can pull together to offer where it’s a win-win for both of us,” Francis said. “They’re attracting students, and we’re also working with them to build an IT certification program that will help us build a talent pipeline into Citizens … We don’t know where this will grow from here, but we thought this will be a good starting point.”

Students that complete the program earn two certifications: Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals and CompTIA Security Certification.

“They get certifications as part of the program that will help them be eligible for a potential internship [at Citizens], and it gives them an entry point into the technology field,” said Arihant Jain, assistant director of IT Shared Services.

Citizens is not looking to expand its tech workforce, almost all of whom are based in Jacksonville, but rather be able to maintain its workforce long-term.

“We’re not looking to grow,” said Francis. “This is more to have that bench strength and that pipeline for when those critical positions become vacant.”

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