Executive Director Examines how Recommendations from President’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology Affects Florida

Manufacturing Day and Month are now over for 2014, but we at FLATE plan to continue our work to change the perception students and parents have about careers in manufacturing as well as work on getting today’s current advanced manufacturing topics into the actual secondary and post-secondary technical programs. To support our own efforts in Florida and to provide ongoing momentum for manufacturing in our country, last week the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology provided to the Executive Office of the President (EOP) a roadmap for action. The executive summary of the report outlines recommendations in three categories (pillars): (1) Enabling Innovation (with 5 recommendations); (2) Securing the Talent Pipeline (with 4 recommendations), and (3) Improving the Business Climate (with 2 recommendations).  A final ”implementation” recommendation is that the National Economic Council (EC) and Office of the Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) provide guidance as to the role of the EOP in coordinating the government’s role and the roles of various federal agencies for the implementation of the recommendations.

Looking at some of the details, the recommendations for “Enabling Innovation” outlines suggestions to provide infrastructure (including communication) and resources to support all phases of innovation for new products, technologies, and manufacturing processes. Recommendations to support an improved manufacturing business climate focus on optimizing stakeholder interactions and communications about markets, supply chains, technologies etc., and increasing access to capital investments. Closer to home and our work at FLATE, are the recommendations of the Talent Pipeline pillar.

The four recommendations under this pillar are to: 1) launch a national campaign to change the image of manufacturing and support National Manufacturing Day’s efforts; 2) Incentivize private investment in the implementation of a system of stackable skill certifications; 3) make online training and accreditation programs eligible for federal support; and 4) Curate the documents, toolkits and play books developed by AMP 2.0.  (The Manufacturing Institute will be the curator of the publications). 

Over the past few years, there have been a number of national and regional efforts to change the
community perception of manufacturing in the U.S. In addition to FLATE’s own “Made in Florida” outreach initiatives and activities, there are a number of national efforts. These include: the national Dream It, Do It campaign; ChampionNow!; The Edge Factor video and curriculum series; American Made Movie and its educational resources; increasing number of student robotics competitions, commercial and college level design and innovation competitions; and the growing grassroots efforts of the “Maker Movement”. Some of these are partnering around the co-sponsored national Manufacturing Day. Hopefully, this alignment will continue so efforts do not compete, but grow more cooperative. Most have a special niche in the social puzzle of changing perception and changing culture. Partnering is the key to maximizing the efforts.

The second and forth recommendations of the talent pipeline pillar provide support to the Manufacturing Institute’s (MI) ongoing efforts to integrate industry credentials into technical education for manufacturing. Incentivizing the use of industry credentials (#2) is certainly a national policy push, and the resource development and dissemination (#4) will provide support resources for local efforts. The new “toolkits” are already available on the MI website. Each of the toolkits was developed to help a particular stakeholder group: educators, industry, and the community. They include some “how to” ideas and best practices as well as templates for approaching and presenting to various partners. 

In Florida, industry credentials have been a strong and robust component of the technical education landscape for nearly a decade, especially in our secondary schools. As part of the Florida gold standard for career academies, Florida CTE students have been earning industry credentials along with their diplomas and using them to articulate credit to associate level technical programs since 2007. Although industry credentials are now part of the way we do business in Florida’s public education system, we still need to engage more employers and add industry credentials to preferred hiring criteria along with educational credentials. We invite everyone to review pathways, articulations, and alignments of our associate degree in Engineering Technology that supports manufacturing statewide and now is offered at 15 Florida colleges (http://fl-ate.org/projects/Stackable-Credentials-Aligned-Certificates.html).

Changing gears, I invite you to catch up with more news stories in this November edition of the FLATE Focus. Give a shout out to our FLATE Awardees. While perusing through the articles take a stab at this month’s new sTEm puzzle, and get up-to-speed with the hottest trend in manufacturing as we explore 3D printing as a new technological frontier to engage students in STEM and manufacturing. We have also tabulated all the surveys and post event data from National Manufacturing Day in Florida and you can track some remarkable strides FLATE and its partners have taken to make national manufacturing day in Florida a statewide success. It truly was a cohesive effort and the kudos goes not to one organization alone but to everyone who contributed to making this a successful endeavor. We also have a guest writer this month from Florida TRADE @HCC who brings you a story outlining their strategic efforts in getting veterans credentialed and ready to work in a high-tech industry. 

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