December 14, 2021
ORLANDO, Fla. — Cory Orr was working 70 hours a week in three jobs, often pulling double shifts at the chain restaurant where he was assistant kitchen manager. A divorced dad, he was raising three kids and a younger sister but worked so many weekends that he seldom saw them. At 38, he could count on one hand the number of vacations he’d taken.
Then came Covid-19, which cost Orlando more than 30 percent of its hospitality jobs — including his. But Orr was finally nearing a promotion at the restaurant and closing in on the salary he wanted. If he could just keep going, he thought, “in a couple of years, I can slow down.”
Orr recounts this with surprising good humor, early in the morning in a brightly lighted classroom at the Valencia College Center for Accelerated Training. Rather than slowing down, he’s speeding up — racing through the 616 hours of study and lab time he needs to get the certification that he hopes will open a new chapter in his life as an industrial maintenance technician. That’s much faster than the two years it often takes.
People who work in this field keep high-tech factories and warehouses running, maintain robots and work in the aerospace and defense industries. Such jobs pay much more than toiling away in a kitchen and are in such high demand around Orlando that employers are as impatient for workers as workers are for jobs.
Orr and his classmates are among the millions of Americans fed up with their careers and seeking new ones. But this group has something many other prospective job-switchers can’t find: hyperfast training to help them do it quickly.