Celebrating the Success of the Florida TRADE Grant

The Florida TRADE consortium started with a partnership of 12 Florida state and community
colleges, local workforce boards, business and manufacturing associations, economic development organizations, K-12 school districts and technical schools, non-profits and other community partners.  In September 2012, the group was awarded a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop and implement technical training programs and services for displaced and unemployed workers, incumbent workers, students, and returning veterans that will lead to employment in today’s high-tech manufacturing market.

Programs included outreach, enrollment, training, preparation for national credentials, and placement assistance into jobs and internships.  Training and national certification was made available for production technicians, CNC operators, mechatronics workers, welders, and persons using programmable logic controllers, quality assurance methods, computer aided design, and robotics.

The Consortium and individual colleges are working to tally performance numbers but the preliminary results include:
  • 2504 program completers including 1400 incumbent workers
  • 2259 students who earned at least one certification
  • 922 program completers placed in jobs in manufacturing
  • 773 students completing academic credit hours toward a degree
Even though the federal funding is going away, manufacturing training is here to stay! Many
of the Florida TRADE schools, including St. Petersburg College, and Hillsborough Community College, will continue to offer manufacturing and engineering training. Florida Department of Economic Opportunity statistics note that by 2023 there will be 5,100 job openings for industrial machinery mechanics, 18,000 openings for engineers, and more than 70,000 job openings for production workers across the state. 

In Pinellas County leather and wood manufacturing are listed in the fastest growing industries. Industrial machinery mechanics are in the top 100 fastest growing fields, and machinists are listed in the top 100 gaining the most new jobs for Pinellas. It is expected that by 2023, there will be over 4,600 production jobs in this area.

For more information on Manufacturing, professional development resources and curriculum visit the Made in Florida website and the FLATE Wiki. You can also contact Dr. Marilyn Barger at barger@fl-ate.org.