Creating Florida's Advanced Manufacturing Workforce

Florida’s manufacturing employment has grown steadily over the last 78 months after a rapid decline in the 4 years prior.[1] In June 2017, employment numbers returned to the 2009 level with a total 365,900 jobs throughout the state.  This current total employment represents an increase of 10,900 jobs since January 2016.[2]  These jobs are spread across 20,584 manufacturing establishments, also increasing steadily over the past several years.[3] This bodes well for the State’s manufacturing economy in that Florida has largely outpaced the rest of the nation in manufacturing job creation.  However, one key challenge is the fact that in Florida, 80% of all manufacturing firms employ less than 20 people and over 99% are classified as small businesses.  Coupled with this challenge is the reality of the 21st century: 
  • Baby boomers are leaving the technical workforce taking their valuable experience and skills with them.
  • Technology is changing pace exponentially and at no other time has technical innovation moved so quickly into the manufacturing sector.
  • High skilled related manufacturing is moving back to the U.S. creating an even bigger demand on the manufacturer workforce needs.[4]

Two national supported and 100% Florida focused organizations, FLATE by the National Science Foundation and FloridaMakes by the Department of Commerce, are collectively addressing this challenge.

FLATE is now using NSF awarded transition funds to shift its core mission functions into other Florida organizations, such as FloridaMakes.  It is anticipated that: the expertise resident within FLATE can continue to play a critical role at the Florida College System and within Florida’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) community; and that FLATE in its new FloridaMakes supported environment will continue to promote and support specific NSF grant project proposals identified through and with FloridaMakes and its Florida College System partners.  Those project topics focus on manufacturing workforce development and include:

            (i)  A.S. Degree technicians Education
                        Industry Recognized Credentials
                        Recognized Apprenticeship Programs           

            (ii)  Manufacturing Academy Program Promotion
            (iii)  A.S. Degree and CTE Faculty and Program Support
            (iv)  Faculty Subject Matter Expert Network available to industry
                    for focused manufacturing training

[1] Florida Manufacturing Employment, Seasonally Adjusted, Fl Department of Economic Opportunity, June 2017

[2] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Program, July 21, 2017

[3] Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, Quarterly Census of Wages and Employment Program. The most recent data available are for 2016 Q3.

[4] Using Competency Models to Drive Competitiveness and Combat the Manufacturing Skills Gap, Society of Manufacturing Engineers/Tooling U, Cleveland, OH

The goals for both FloridaMakes and FLATE center on creating a world class manufacturing environment in Florida with a collective effort to accelerate manufacturers’ access to talent development infrastructure and dramatically increase the use of On-Line Skills Training.  Specific objectives of this joint effort will be explored in future FLATE Focus editions.

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