Manatee Technical Institute, one of the crown jewels in the school district, could be entering a new era soon as officials unveiled a proposal to modify the institution's name. "Manatee Technical College" carries more heft by creating a stronger image in the job marketplace.
This would follow a state and national trend that other technical centers are employing for a "competitive advantage" when students graduate, MTI Director Doug Wagner noted last week.
While Wagner is quietly rolling out a petition to collect community and stakeholder support, we cannot imagine any opposition. This idea is not on a fast track as Wagner intends to secure widespread advocacy before formally approaching the school board.
He's got our support.
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This is a terrific way to bring clarity and dissolve stereotypes about MTI and its mission.
The school offers 49 career and technical programs across four campuses, serving 4,800 students.
The workforce training includes various construction and manufacturing trades, culinary and hospitality skills, auto and marine technology, nursing and allied health, and even digital arts. Firefighter, paramedic, law enforcement and other career training is also available.
MTI programs cover careers in most of the fastest growing industries in Manatee County, a boon to employers and job-seekers.
While the average age of students in adult career preparation classes is around 27, the school offers dual enrollment to high school juniors and seniors -- tuition free. Almost 200 younger students take advantage of this.
The post-secondary specialized institute awards applied technology diplomas and technical certificates. Preparation programs last as little as two months but can stretch to two years.
Most impressive, though, is the placement rate -- a shade above 90 percent. Graduates secure jobs, often with assistance from MTI staff.
Over the past year, MTI has enjoyed several major milestones -- the opening of the $44 million state-of-the-art facility in East Manatee in 2013 and the graduation of its 50th class in June.
Established in 1963 as the Manatee Vocational and Technical Center, the school board added "Area" to the name two years ago.
Then the school evolved into MTI in 1997, expanding from one to four campuses. Before rebranding to MTI, the school consulted with local business and industry groups and is following that same path today.
In Herald education reporter Meghin Delaney's Friday article on the potential name change, Wagner pointed out Pinellas County switched from the Pinellas Technical Education Center to Pinellas Technical College just two months ago, with high hopes of enrollment increases. Since MTI is perpetually recruiting students, the school would be able to market itself as a college -- likely with more student appeal.
Manatee Technical College has a promising ring, and graduates would continue to boast industry certifications and state credentials and licenses but from a college. (MTI has an agreement with State College of Florida to accept its graduates for the pursuit of degrees.)
MTI is a nationally renowned institution, and this name change would be most welcome.