Able Trust’s Disability Employment Awareness Month Highlights Pathways to Technology-Related Careers

FLATE’s STEM-based outreach initiatives encompasses reaching out to a wide cross section of educators and students. Over the
years FLATE has reached out to students in rural communities, minority students, women and girls who remain underrepresented in manufacturing and STEM related fields. One such special partnership is the one FLATE has enjoyed for years with the Able Trust’s Florida High School High Tech initiative. This strategic partnership has culminated in providing students with disabilities an opportunity to explore careers and educational pathways in manufacturing and/or STEM related fields.

Most recently as part of the Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), which is traditionally celebrated every October, FLATE was invited by the Able Trust to the official, public launch of DEAM. With approximately 150 participants, the event celebrated 10 years of DEAM activities. The brunch event included comments from Joseph Murray, the 2016 “Face of DEAM,” Neil Romano, former Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, business supporters, and the Able Trust leadership. The event also served as a platform for many businesses and local stakeholders to learn about a potentially untapped talent pipeline, and highlighted the importance of having a diverse and inclusive workforce.

This year FLATE staff once again used this opportunity to network and highlight FLATE’s STEM based resources and encourage
Able Trust stakeholders to explore jobs, or postsecondary education pathways leading to technology-related careers. To promote and mark the kick-off the MFG Month, FLATE staff distributed MFG Day T shirts to key Able Trust people and participants. A delicious proposition was also presented to the FLATE management team whereby a senior management team from Monin, a manufacturer based in Pinellas County, proposed submitting a “FLATE Flavor” to their design team.

FLATE’s close partnership with the Able Trust has enabled several HSHT students to participate in Manufacturing Day events and
industry tours. In 2014, over 120 students in Orlando participated in industry tours to learn about high-tech, high-skilled STEM careers in manufacturing. Last year, as part of the HSHT Annual Conference, FLATE organized an industry tour for HSHT program coordinators to Seminole State College’s Academic Innovation School of Engineering, Design and Construction. HSHT Able Trust students also participated in the 2015 Manufacturing Day industry tours where they were part of 197 students who toured ASO & OCTEX in Sarasota County.

For more information about the Able Trust and the HSHT initiative visit www.abletrust.org. For information on FLATE’s outreach program for students and educators and the “Made in Florida” industry tours visit www.madeinflorida.org, or contact Dr. Marilyn Barger, Executive Director of FLATE at barger@fl-ate.org