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Workforce Development Month Puts EFSC In Spotlight

Mechatronics student working in lab.
In the Mechatronics Lab on EFSC's Cocoa campus, students learn how to maintain and repair industrial automation equipment.

September 12, 2022

Eastern Florida State College’s success in programs that lead students to in-demand jobs with local industry has put EFSC in the spotlight as a state leader in helping spur economic growth.

The attention is noteworthy as Florida marks September as Workforce Development Month to recognize the collaboration between Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, state agencies and higher education to meet the governor’s goal of Florida leading the nation in workforce education by 2030.

“During this administration, our collective $5 billion investment in workforce education and job training means Floridians have access to numerous pathways to career success, including new rapid credentialing programs that can be completed in 20 weeks or less, leading to an in-demand, high-wage occupation,” said Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr.

In the past decade, EFSC has launched 86 new programs tied directly to the workforce needs of local and regional companies, including 27 Bachelor Degree tracks in business, healthcare, science teacher education and computer technology.

That’s the most in the college’s history and shows its commitment to educating a new generation of highly skilled workers in a range of fields.

“All of our new programs are the result of listening to companies and working closely with them to tailor the coursework and classes to meet their needs,” said EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey.

“We’re constantly looking for new ways to get even better. That’s why we place a high priority on internships and apprenticeships to give students a hands-on experience and a real edge for employment upon graduation.”

In recent days, two events have highlighted EFSC’s importance in the arena of workforce development.

First, Florida Department of Education Chancellor Dr. Kevin O’Farrell toured facilities on the Cocoa Campus, visiting labs and speaking with students in Aerospace Technology, Mechatronics, Computerized Machining, Welding and HVAC.

O’Farrell, who is the Chancellor for Career, Technical and Adult Education, praised EFSC for doing “an outstanding job” in providing students with high-tech training.

A few days later, EFSC and a team of industry partners welcomed 11 new students into the growing Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeships program that is supplying area companies with high-tech workers.

To date, 26 students have launched their careers through the program since it began in 2019. Some 13 companies now participate, including Blue Origin, OneWeb Satellites, Vaya Space and Knights Armament.

Another apprenticeship program has Aerospace Technology students doing hands-on work with ASRC/Lockheed Martin at Kennedy Space Center on the Orion crew spacecraft.

“With all of these apprenticeships, students have jobs waiting for them when they earn their diplomas. It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Richey.

Workforce conference
State and regional leaders in government, higher education and industry gathered June 10, 2022 at EFSC's Melbourne campus to discuss the need to expand the high-tech workforce along the Space Coast.
More recognition of EFSC’s role in workforce development came in June when the state held a conference on the Melbourne Campus with government, high-tech, economic development and education leaders.

The goal was to discuss ways to increase workforce training along the Space Coast, with EFSC and other state colleges in Central Florida on the front lines in recruiting more students into key programs.

For instance, EFSC is undertaking a major initiative to meet with high school students to get them interested in workforce careers years before they graduate. Aerospace, Engineering, Aviation and Robotics are just some of programs discussed.

The Florida Legislature and Gov. DeSantis are also supporting EFSC’s work with critical new facilities.

This year, they awarded the college nearly $21 million for a pair of new high-tech centers: The Center for Innovation Technology Education on the Melbourne Campus (CITE), and Aerospace Center of Excellence (ACE) to be built on the Titusville Campus.

CITE is designed to meet the urgent need for more technical support staff for rapidly growing and changing industries. The facility will feature labs that can be easily configured to provide students with the access to software used by high-tech employers.

The approach will bring together cutting-edge equipment, course work and students working in teams to simulate working environments and the best practices used by industry.

ACE will provide a location to expand the college’s Aerospace Technology program to the Titusville Campus, which is ideally situated adjacent to Kennedy Space Center.

With a bevy of new commercial space companies locating near Titusville, ACE will provide a much-needed training ground for North Brevard students and allow the Aerospace Technology two-year degree program to double in size.

“In funding these new facilities, the state is making a wise investment in the most important resource we have, which is people,” said Richey.

“It will allow us to expand the pipeline of skilled professionals we are educating and give companies the talent they need.”

Added Richey:

“When people think of workforce development, we want them to think of EFSC. That’s why we’re sharply focused on the issue, and why it will remain at the forefront of our efforts.” 

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