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EFSC Training Apprentices in New Advanced Machinist Program

April 19, 2021 - The first group of Advanced Machinist specialists in an expanding local apprenticeship program will begin training at Eastern Florida State College in May while also working at participating companies that include rocket manufacturer Blue Origin.

The program is the latest effort of the Space Coast Consortium eApprenticeship Program (SCCAP), an industry-driven apprenticeship program sponsored by SpaceTEC Partners, Inc. in partnership with EFSC.

Participating companies include Blue Origin, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and is building rockets at Kennedy Space Center to launch astronauts from the spaceport.

Knight’s Armament, Diamondback America and Precision Shapes are also involved.

“Education and training beyond high school is a must to be competitive in today’s workplace. Apprenticeship programs such as this are an excellent way for individuals to avoid college debt and receive high-quality training. Employers earn the loyalty of their employees by investing in their futures as well as their own,” says Frank Margiotta, EFSC’s Associate Provost of Advanced Manufacturing.

Under the program, 10 Advanced Machinist apprentices will begin the two-and-one-half year State of Florida registered program during the summer term starting May 17. They will receive academic coursework and hands-on lab training at EFSC’s Cocoa Campus two nights a week and also work full-time on the manufacturing floors of participating companies.

By mixing classroom learning with “on-the-job-training,” apprentices learn real, immediately marketable skills and earn stackable credentials, including National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA) and National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) credentials, a State of Florida apprenticeship certificate and credits that apply toward a two-year EFSC Associate Degree  in Engineering Technology.

The Advanced Machinist occupation is the second of three apprenticeship occupations supported by SpaceTEC, SCCAP and EFSC.

SCCAP officially launched the first group of Mechatronics Technician apprentices in August 2019 following a formal signing ceremony attended by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey; Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello and Director of the Florida Department of Education Office of Apprenticeship Richard (Ted) Norman.

Participating companies in this initial program included OneWeb Satellites, RUAG Space, Knight’s Armament and Rocket Crafters, now Vaya Space. The seven apprentices are now in their second year of the program and are expected to finish in January 2022.

SCCAP is currently in the recruitment phase to launch its second group of Mechatronics Technicians in August 2021 with an expected group size of seven apprentices.

A third SCCAP registered occupation, Fiber Composite Technician, is scheduled to launch during August 2021, also with an expected size of seven apprentices.

By EFSC's fall term in August 2021, if recruitment for all programs is successful, SCCAP will attain a total of at least 30 active apprentices in the three occupations.

“The Space Coast is an area where apprenticeships and other work-based learning programs are critically essential for the future health of our economy,” said Bryan Kamm, Founder and Lead Consultant.

“With the onset of COVID last year, our Space Coast industries have recognized the need more now than ever to re-shore manufacturing and to develop a stronger and more reliable national supply chain of essential products to support our local industries. Our goal at SCCAP is to maintain the highest level of advanced manufacturing Industry 4.0 competitiveness in our workforce to offset any future economic, health or national security threats wherever possible.”

“The manufacturing sector has a well-documented skills gap,” says Art Hoelke, SCCAP Chair and VP and General Manager of Knight’s Armament. “As a growing number of Americans retire, they take decades of experience and knowledge with them. I am very thankful that our country and its leaders understand the importance of training apprentices in the trade sector.

“Our country has a phenomenal bi-partisan support system that makes this a success. From our local industry, to our wonderful educational partners at Eastern Florida and Brevard Public Schools, our Economic Development Commission, and CareerSource, who all whole-heartedly support these efforts and truly understand how important it is to help our community.”

“Due in part to the shortage of skilled labor locally to support world-class manufacturing and the cost of importing these workers, it is imperative that companies have a means of producing talent locally. SpaceTEC is proud to support the SCCAP and EFSC in this endeavour,” says Steve Kane, Executive Director of SpaceTEC Partners, Inc.

The Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program looks forward to an exciting future and encourages any local companies looking to develop an advanced manufacturing workforce pipeline to join them in their mission.

Interested companies or potential apprentice candidates are welcome to contact Bryan Kamm at bryank@bkammconsulting.com or Steve Kane at stevekane@spacetec.us for more information.