OPWD INSIDER

Goodbye 2020!

This post is written by: Courtney Hancock

| Published: December 16, 2020

As the last OPWD Insider post of 2020, we thought it fitting to recap all the initiative and progress we managed to accomplish despite the numerous unforeseen barriers that showered the world this year.

While many of our plans were derailed by COVID-19, we were still able to move forward and adapt in new and challenging ways. For the Office of Professional and Workforce Development (OPWD) specifically, our staff was faced with the hurdle of transporting our work environment to the constraints of our homes while many of our face-to-face revenue streams were threatened. Much like the rest of the world, we were able to adjust, convert and overcome – which I believe has put us on a new, more accessible track for our future customers and clients. In many ways, the pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate and re-align our overall values as a collective working toward a greater goal.

The reality of the pandemic has transformed OPWD quickly, but ultimately for the better – and in many avenues, the best is yet to come!

Throughout quarantine and working from home we were able to accomplish many building improvements that had been put off for some time: New signage inside and out, hallway floors repainted, conference room renovation, new flag poles in front of building, pond clean-up and new fountains, new lobby furniture, exterior pressure washing and HVAC improvements. See Facility Updates: Part 1 and Facility Updates: Part 2 to read more about our OPWD building improvements.

CAREER & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION

https://cwde.aa.ufl.edu

While this program was on track to launch this year, plans had to be adjusted due to the impacts of COVID-19 throughout Florida. Through perseverance and an unwavering pursuit of our goals, we managed to remain on track and the program will go live next Spring. Through constant and transparent communication during the ambiguity of the school year, we are keeping our communities informed and up to date.

Accomplishments:

11 Counties/Districts have Articulation Agreements with Career & Workforce Development Education (CWDE) and Florida Gateway College!

CONFERENCES

https://conferences.aa.ufl.edu

Many planned conferences were canceled due to COVID-19, and our event managers quickly adapted to the challenge of learning how to get around the traditional face-to-face draw of conferences while keeping attendees engaged in a new virtual format.

Accomplishments:

All event managers are certified in Virtual Event and Meeting Management

Hosted 4 Virtual Conferences in the Fall

Enhanced website interface for virtual events

Ongoing learning and demo of virtual platform options for clients

CUSTOM SOLUTIONS

https://custom.aa.ufl.edu

Overall, the custom solutions sector of our organization has been substantially winding down – even before the pandemic. While restrictions on travel and enhanced safety regulations within organizations and industries have grossly impacted our ability to work from the inside out, we still have some returning clients who value our training. In 2021 we hope to see an uptick in our custom training endeavors, but for now, we appreciate and value our loyal customers!

Accomplishments:

1 returning client and a new client in the Fall

2 returning clients projected in January

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

https://engage.aa.ufl.edu

Many of our community working groups were able to meet consistently via zoom throughout the pandemic. As a result of our workforce initiatives, we were able to identify a commercial kitchen in the Gainesville area to further the reach of the Culinary Arts program launching in March 2021. We also successfully held four hybrid leadership workshops in 2020!

Accomplishments:

Creation of Workforce Development online readiness programs

Four Open Enrollment Workshops

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT HUB

https://hub.aa.ufl.edu

Even though a majority of these courses are online and available to take at any time, the Professional Development Hub still felt a dent in enrollments due to the pandemic. Despite a dip in enrollments, the Hub was able to accomplish some exciting items that are projected to positively impact 2021.

Accomplishments:

101 enrollments in Human Trafficking Prevention since it’s release in February 2020 – exceeding our expectations immensely!

Hosted first COBie live webinar with the Airforce

Became an approved COBie training provider through buildingSMART

Website updates that have positively impacted user experience through easy navigation and searchable content

Workforce Development Working group across UF was created!

Standard badges were developed

Total number of active courses on the Hub: 134!

TREEO

https://treeo.ufl.edu

Like many schools and facilities across Florida, the Nation and the World, TREEO was closed from March – July 2020. Our facility did not reopen for classes until August.

TREEO was forced to pivot many of its courses to digital learning. Four new video cameras were purchased for virtual learning, nine new online courses were developed and we offered 15 virtual or hybrid courses to our students.

With a total of 496 courses taught, TREEO had 3,697 students in attendance from 6 countries and 26 states!

Accomplishments:

UF TREEO Director, Carol Hinton, received a Special Recognition Award for her work with FlaWARN.

Together with FDEP and the EPA, 8,035 masks were distributed to water and wastewater operators around the state.

9,000 masks were given to local schools and community centers!

Asbestos:

Since reopening on August 1st, the asbestos program has held 39 courses. In these courses, we trained 354 students in 13 cities around the state. 11 of these courses were held here at TREEO Center.

Backflow Prevention:

Total Number of Classes Aug-Dec 2020: 91

Total Number of Contract Courses Aug-Dec 2020: 4 (JEA, PB County Water, Sprinkler Fitters, City of Coral Springs)

Launched Backflow Tester & Intro to Backflow Online

Total Number of Online Registration for Backflow Tester: 27

Total Number of Online Registration for Intro to Backflow: 37

Water/Wastewater:

22 classes held since August 2020; 4 in-person, 7 virtual, 6 hybrid and 5 contracts.

Solid and Hazardous Waste Management:

Hosted HAZWOPER courses at TREEO for the first time in two years.

Refresher and FDEP courses will now have virtual option

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that if we put our minds together, we can achieve great, and often unexpected, things.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!


Keep up with all things OPWD by reading our bi-monthly office updates.

The Office of Professional and Workforce Development (OPWD) supports the Office of Teaching and Technology and the University of Florida in offering non-credit education for adult learners across multiple modalities, e.g. online, face-to-face, and conferences.

Is there a topic under our umbrella that you would like to learn or see more about? Email Courtney Hancock at cehancock@mail.ufl.edu with your ideas.