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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — There are millions of jobs available across the country, because people don’t have the skills to fill those positions. Now, there is a program available in the Tampa Bay Area to bridge that divide.

The Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter invites students to become part of its apprentice program to help them prepare for and nab those high-paying jobs.

“There are so many jobs out there that employers are willing to take a chance on [students] and get them training for free,” said Steve Kona III, the CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors. “So all of our apprentices in our program go to school for free, the contractor pays for them to go to school, during a four year training program. They’re getting paid so they are earning while they are learning.”

Then the association takes it a step further by connecting students with companies that need good hires.

Felix Arroio is a Tampa Bay Tech graduate and entered the apprenticeship program with Tampa’s Cox Electric. “The end result is to become an electrical contractor, own my business, and run it,” he said.

Arroio explained he was surprised to learn how much money he could make all while getting the experience he needs to grow what is a profitable field.

His Alma Mater, Tampa Bay Tech, works closely with Associated Builders and Contractors to help students make the transition, not only into the job force, but to further their education with a post secondary degree.

“When they get here in the 9th grade, they don’t realize how big it is. When they leave us, they are employable right out of high school,” said Tampa Bay Tech Principal Michael Ippolito.

Most of the companies that work with ABC will pay for a student’s post secondary education while they are on the job.

Right now ABC estimates there are 2 million jobs that need to be filled in the commercial construction industry alone.

The association works with schools across Tampa Bay and hold major job fairs to recruit students to participate in his apprenticeship programs.

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