From the Executive Director’s Desk: A Focus on Employability Skills in Manufacturing

This year, FLATE partnered with the Center for Occupational Research and Development
(CORD) on a new curriculum development initiative. Necessary Skills Now: Teaching Employability Skills through Sector-specific Integrated Scenarios, the project is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program and is aimed at improving the employability skills of our nation’s technicians in the manufacturing and cyber security sectors.

Many of us still regularly hear from employers and researchers that there is an ongoing, serious lack of employability skills in today’s technical workforce. The Necessary Skills Now project is working with teams of faculty and employer subject matter experts (SMEs) to develop curriculum that integrates technical content and employability concepts within existing courses in advanced manufacturing and cyber security. The outputs of the project will provide opportunities for faculty to teach employability skills prioritized by industry within existing technical courses by using authentic workplace scenarios as the context for instruction.

The project will create self-contained instructional projects aligned to critical junctures within associate degree programs of study and will address six major categories of employability skills repeatedly mentioned in workforce surveys and research reports:

1) Teamwork

2) Problem Solving

3) Verbal Communication

4) Written Communication

5) Dependability/Work Ethic

6) Planning & Organizing.

Two weeks ago, 12 subject matter experts (six educators and six industry professionals) met with the CORD leadership team at Moraine Valley Community College (IL) to begin designing the proposed projects for advanced manufacturing. I was proud to have many Florida educators and their industry partners participating.

  • Meer Almeer (Eastern Florida SC) with Mike Ennis (Harris Corporation)
  • Lara Sharp (St. Petersburg College) with Mike Brewster (Monin)
  • Roxana Melendez (Palm Beach SC) with Terry Iverson (Iverson & Co)
  • Margi Lee (Florida Gateway College) with Richard Schwien (MVCC)
  • Dan Horine from Virginia Western CC, a close partner of our Florida team also participated with his industry partner, Josh Bittinger (Dynax)
  • Sam Knotts (Wayne CC, NC) with Chris Knotts 

The six advanced manufacturing teams left the workshop energized and ready to work. Having developed their topic areas for their authentic, integrated project at the workshop, the teams are scheduled to complete their modules by the end of 2016. After the expert curriculum development team at CORD reviews, formats and edits the six modules they will be available for pilot testing in the summer and fall of 2017, before broad dissemination.

Earlier in June, FLATE was invited to join the MSSC Advisory Council and to present at the
MSSC Executive Briefing in Atlanta, GA. Over 230 attendees participated in the 1.5 day event to hear and share best practices of implementing MSSC in high schools, community and technical colleges, adult education, workforce and military programs. I presented with Kathie Schmidt, formally from St. Lucie Schools on their early adoption of MSSC in Treasure Coast High School’s advanced manufacturing academy. Tallahassee Community College workforce team also presented to the group on how to work (or not work) with a local prison system to provide MSSC training. The FLATE team was really proud to be part of the large group from Florida engineering Technology Forum community who also attended the event to raise the awareness of credential-based education and enjoyed good and focused networking opportunities.

I now invite you to read the rest of the stories in the July edition of the FLATE Focus. Do write back with your thoughts and comments about our stories, or tweet us @MadeIn_Florida using the Hashtag of the Month #STEMTasticSummer.