Copied from Herald Tribune article published Monday August 11, 2014
Most of us have heard the stories about a serious and seemingly intractable social problem: People need a job or a better job, while employers can’t find people with the skills they need to hire.
It took a collaboration of local educational, business and government agencies to pull it off, but the Sarasota County Technical Institute has graduated 16 adult students from its first Precision Machining Education Program class.
And every graduate has a job or a job offer, officials say.
Shawn Rauch was a mechanic when he signed up for the class.
“After this short year, I’m going to be confidently walking into my new workplace, making an entry-level wage that is close to what I was making as an ASE certified master automotive technician at my old shop,” he said.
Pam Groom, the only woman in the class, worked as the third-shift manager at a gas station and convenience store while taking the class.
She came to class every morning following her night’s work to put in another six hours mastering computer numerical control machining, the state-of-the-art in modern machining taught at SCTI.
She was one of the top five students in the class and has a job offer from JLM Manufacturing, a Bradenton company that produces aerospace and medical equipment, instructor Ed Doherty said.
The program was created by the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County, CareerSource Suncoast, Sarasota County government, the Sarasota County School Board, SCTI, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge, a privately funded workforce-development group.
It started in 2013 when a study by CareerEdge documented the gap between worker skills and employer needs. CareerEdge provided $25,000 to the program. CareerEdge also launched the skill gap study and manufacturing community-wide plan that led to this program. They will also going to provide grants to employers so they can pay an intern for 100 hours.
Todd Bowden, the Sarasota County Schools executive director of career, technical and adult education, made space in the new SCTI facility to house a machining lab and worked up a curriculum with an advisory board of area manufacturers.
In June 2013, the Sarasota County Commission approved $343,500 to buy the machining equipment for the program. The school board approved $655,000 to support the program over five years. When the program opened that August for registration, the first class was filled and had a waiting list.
Instructor Doherty said many of the students have the ability not only to get high-paying jobs as machinists, but to go on to careers in engineering.
“Manufacturing in the USA is on the climb again,” he said, “and we are in the right position to take advantage of this opportunity.”
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