National Awareness of FLATE Expertise Continues to Increase

The National Academies of Engineering, Science, and Health recently hosted their first Education and 
Training Opportunity workshop in support of the Gulf Research Program. The Gulf Research Program (GRP) is supported primarily from BP gulf recovery funds. Among the workshop’s goals was the establishment of the current state of education and training pathways for the Gulf region’s middle skilled workforce in some target occupational areas related to the gulf oil industry.  This also includes the identification of perceived and real gaps between the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that successful middle-skilled workers typically now have what they need. In addition, it is important to determine the programs, activities, and frameworks needed to build capacity in the Gulf region's middle skilled workforce in these areas. To accomplish these workshop objectives, the academies have assembled 40 workforce and technology experts from the Gulf region. For Florida technical education expertise, the Academies looked to FLATE. Dr. Marilyn Barger participated on a panel focused on building capacity in the Gulf region’s middle skilled workforce while Dr. Richard Gilbert participated in the workshop activities as an invited technology subject matter expert. These FLATE team members were two of the three experts invited from Florida to participate in this National Academies workshop.

The all day event focused on what are the middle skill jobs, a common theme for our ATE projects and centers as well as all community colleges. It was interesting to see the scientists and policy professionals from the National Academies and other agencies struggle a bit with what middle skill workers actually do as well as the specific skills they need. The answers were very defined competencies that could be packaged in a community college, two-year degree, or certificate, or even a non-credit program. Training and education that is closely aligned to industry needs was identified as a high proiority and an area that needs improvement.

The GRP effort will continue throughout the summer with more workshops in other gulf locations. The data
and information collecting goals of the workshops will help the project better understand the local and regional needs with respect to three identified disciplines related to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion: hydrocarbon technologies; environmental restoration and monitoring, and community and public health. The compiled workshop outcomes will help define the programs and activities that will be funded by the GRP to address the skills gap identified in the Gulf region.

It was great to participate in this workshop and share the good work and emerging best practices found in community and technical colleges across the country with a new audience. We look forward to the summary report of the workshops later this fall. Results should help define the skills and competencies that are needed to “close” the skills gaps in the industries selected to focus on. Once these are defined, the Gulf Research Project will be funding related educational and training projects as well as related research to these initiatives in all five of the gulf states.

For more information you can connect with Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org and 813.259.6578, or visit www.fl-ate.org.