Northwest Florida Manufacturing Council (NWFMC) hosted its annual Education Advisory Committee


 
 
On Friday August 4, the Northwest Florida Manufacturing Council (NWFMC) hosted its annual Education Advisory Committee for manufacturing programs in middle school, high school and college programs in the 10 counties of  Florida’s great Northwest region. With a mission to develop their own talent pipeline, the membership of NWFMC initiated and continues to support eight middle school and 10 high school manufacturing related programs and academies in 10 counties. The NWFMC also supports the four Engineering Technology Associate of Science (A.S.) degree programs in the region: Chipola College, Gulf Coast State College, Northwest Florida State College and Pensacola State College.  High school students in the manufacturing programs can articulate with credit to any Engineering Technology degree program at these colleges. The University of West Florida (UWF) located in Pensacola, is also an important partner, supporting all the educational initiatives of the Council including training for the current manufacturing workforce. 
 
To put money where its mouth is, the Manufacturing Council has acquired funding to support the development of the new programs, purchase needed equipment, recruit students, provide educator professional development and training, offer scholarships, and support MFG DAY tours for students in these program every October.  For example, educators from across the panhandle attended training at Northwest Florida State College supported by NWFMC earlier in the week before the August 4th meeting.  To help market the programs to the community, students, parents, and industry,  NWFMC developed individual county-focused career pathway handouts available to download from their website (www.nwfmc.org). The documents promote the manufacturing educational pathways as well as the great high-wage, high-tech manufacturing careers available in their regions.
 
 
 
The advisory committee meeting helps educators learn what the manufacturing industries in their area need with respect to workforce, what the council and regional workforce agencies report on hiring in the industry, and also get to share what they need.  These regional Council Advisory meetings can also fill the requirement of the school programs to have an Industry Advisory Committee meeting each semester.  Al Jenkins, new Engineering Technology faculty at Gulf Coast State College said that these regional meetings were extremely valuable.  He not only learns how the education system in Florida “works,” but hears directly from industry what their needs are.  “Its important to hear directly from those companies who hire our students about the skills they need as well as new technologies they are implementing” Jenkins said. He also mentioned that educators worked together to better understand what the pathway options are for their students, and how they might share equipment, expertise and experiences.  Steve Harrell, CTE director in Pensacola schools, commented that it was important for him and his manufacturing teachers to participate in these meetings, network with their colleagues, and listen to industry partners.
 
Dr. Barger, Executive Director of FLATE (Florida Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence) shared a number of resources with the attendees including DVDs of the “Made in Florida” and “Women in Manufacturing” videos and their accompanying teacher guides, classroom posters for MFG DAY and folders with more information about FLATE resources and the statewide manufacturing education pathways.  Dr. Barger also provided a brief overview of  FLATE and its work supporting manufacturing education in our state.

NWFMC student recruiting video
http://nwfmc.org/