Association of Florida Colleges: Building the Future Through A Qualified Workforce

The Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) provides a forum where all Florida college employees have the
 opportunity to learn from one another through professional development workshops, general themed meetings, commission business meetings, and best practice presentations for all commissions. FLATE has been active in the Occupational and Workforce Education Commission since 2010, and has been awarded a Best Practice, Synergy in the Sunshine State, for its collaborative partnership in designing, promoting, and supporting the Engineering Technology (ET) A.S. degree program. The ET program has now been adopted by 14 of Florida’s 28 state and community colleges. AFC joint commission conferences such as the May 16-17, 2013 annual spring conference, hosted by State College of Florida, Sarasota (Lakewood Ranch) and the AFC Technology Commission offered as its theme the promise and challenge of Building for the Future. FLATE was pleased to present a workshop at this conference: Supplying Florida’s Ready-to-Workforce.

The Manufacturers Association of Florida (MAF) supports 2013 legislation providing incentives to Florida colleges that train students in certified programs that will help students meet the needs of the changing job market. These types of programs are seen by the state of Florida as an excellent resource toward economic recovery based on U.S. manufacturing using new and emerging technologies. The ET degree is one such program.

The FLATE workshop discussed strategies for injecting relevant career skills into college programs using
FLATE’s ET program as an exemplar. The ET A.S. degree program packages stackable industry certifications, prepares students to enter the workforce, and applies successful completion of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) toward 15 credits of the ET A.S. degree for students successfully achieving the CPT. This combination provides both knowledge and credentials, and supports the technology-focused and high growth potential of advanced manufacturing. This nationally recognized certification allows students to prove that they have the skills and knowledge required for a good job in the high-tech workforce. The certification covers four areas manufacturers say they are looking for in employees: quality, safety, production processes, and maintenance awareness.

In Florida high schools, the Automation and Production Technology (APT) framework integrates the MSSC CPT certification into career academies letting students earn college credit (15 credit hours toward the ET degree program) at any offering Florida college for earning MSSC CPT. As well, high schools offering the MSSC CPT integration earn bonus FTE funding as part of Florida’s CAPE legislation. The program is helping high school graduates to be “career ready” when they graduate high school: students needing to enter the workforce are better able to find a job and begin earning money, and have an option to take advantage of employer programs to complete their A.S. degree. The ET career pathway can take students from high school, to Associate in Science, to a Bachelors degree in engineering technology, with good jobs along the way due to the industry aligned curriculum and industry preferred certification.

At the AFC joint Commissions conference, attendees saw ways in which adult and continuing education programs at colleges may intersect with occupational and workforce training and traditional credit based coursework in the area of industry certifications. Collaboration helps build and support new revenue streams for colleges and in turn helps Florida's colleges continue to secure Florida's future by offering a world-class workforce that can compete in a global economy. The Florida Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to make Florida more competitive in the manufacturing industry and looks to double Florida-origin exports by 2015; programs such as the engineering technology degree serve as a cornerstone for building a workforce in support of our important manufacturing industry.   

For more information on the FLATE-created, statewide A.S. degree in engineering technology visit www.madeinflorida.org/engineering-technology-degree, or contact Associate Director, Dr. Marie Boyette  at boyette@fl-ate.org and Executive Director, Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.