Manufacturing is a highly valued sector in our region, with more than 400 manufacturers providing 8,000 jobs in Manatee County.
With this demand comes a need for highly skilled workers, and our local colleges play an integral role in developing a workforce that meets the stringent requirements of our manufacturing employers.
I was proud to be a part of Governor Rick Scott’s recent announcement that Manatee Technical College has been awarded $201,500 in funding from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. The workforce training Manatee Technical College offers is critical in our region to provide manufacturers with skilled, productive and competitive talent and to provide all individuals, including those with disabilities, with increased opportunities for self-sufficiency and high-skill, high-wage careers.
This funding will allow Manatee Technical College to support the purchase of high-tech equipment needed to expand its Advanced Manufacturing and Production Technology program, and will provide the opportunity for students to gain more skills and graduate in a position where they can start a career with one of our region’s local manufacturers.
Manatee County Schools Superintendent Diana Greene explained the impact on the students best: “We know that our students have the opportunity to be successful. They have an opportunity to be your employees. They have an opportunity to be an entrepreneur and to be an employer. Through this grant we are going to ensure that students have the opportunity to realize the American dream.”
The purchase of high-tech equipment supports the CareerSource Suncoast goal to enhance alignment and market responsiveness of workforce, education and economic development systems. The ability of our region to attract and retain competitive businesses such as advanced manufacturers depends on this alignment and the ability of our regional technical colleges to provide the training for in-demand industries.
It doesn’t stop here, though. I hope to see similar investments made in healthcare, construction, IT, hospitality and life sciences. We can’t develop a workforce that meets employers’ needs just by teaching students through textbooks. It is vital to the health of our future workforce that the schools, EDCs, employers and workforce board continue to come together to support students, listen to industry needs, and invest and adjust curriculum to ensure people have the right skills and get quality and self-sustaining jobs.
“People want to work, they want to be independent and get a job,” Governor Rick Scott said during the press conference announcing the grant. “Students want to know that they will get a return and get a job after school. We’ve got to continue to do everything we can to help people get the best jobs possible.”
This is a huge step in making that vision come true. I am excited to see what Manatee Technical College can achieve with this funding, and look forward to seeing the positive impact it will bring to the individuals and families in our community.
Ted Ehrlichman, president and CEO of CareerSource Suncoast, writes about workforce issues across the region.