St. Petersburg College (SPC) joins Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ) and Broward College in receiving a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will increase apprenticeships and help close the workforce skills gaps in the information technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and construction and trades industries in Florida.
FSCJ is leading the Florida Apprenticeship consortium, the only group in Florida to be awarded the federal grant, and one of only five in the South region, which spans from Texas to North Carolina.
Under the American Apprenticeship Grant program, the Department of Labor chose 46 public/private partnerships to receive $175 million to train and hire more than 34,000 new apprentices in high-growth and high-tech industries. The partnerships will combine the efforts of employers, colleges, industry organizations, state and regional Registered Apprenticeship systems, state and regional workforce investment systems, school districts, community nonprofits and state agencies to expand high-quality apprenticeships.
“We are honored to partner with Florida State College at Jacksonville and Broward College to expand apprenticeships that will prepare our students for sustainable employment in high demand fields,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “This collaborative, grassroots initiative also will benefit employers and the economy, by ensuring a deeper pool of highly skilled workers in growing industries.”
A total of 1,000 apprentices will be served in the targeted fields in Florida. SPC will receive $1.15 million and train 333 apprentices through the grant.
Pratt, Brown & Associates, LLC is one of SPC’s corporate partners in the new program. Pratt CEO Cindy Brown said apprenticeships are vital as companies find themselves having open positions without skilled candidates to fill them.
“This new approach gives employers the ability to provide on-the-job training for candidates using their own in-house methodologies, while addressing their company’s specific technology needs. As part of the program, the candidates learn industry best practices utilizing tools that measure their progress throughout the program,” Brown said. “This will be one of the first integrated academic programs in the US that incorporates the needs and guidelines of both the private and academic sectors in the IT industry.”
According to a needs analysis, the biggest skills gaps identified by employers were technical skills, followed by a lack of soft skills, such as work ethic, communication and leadership. Five distinct audience groups will be targeted for the apprenticeships, including current students, incumbent workers, unemployed workers, veterans and pre-apprentices.
“We commend these partners on this initiative,” said Mike Meidel, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development. “We can attest that they truly have developed an inclusive program that will help workers attain the critical on-the-job training needed to bolster the American workforce in the growing global economy.”
SPC has long been a leader in workforce-centered programs, as they are a key strategic priority for the college. Currently the college is part of six federal Department of Labor grant programs geared at helping students and community members succeed in acquiring the skills, degrees and credentials needed for high-wage, high-skill employment, many targeting the same industries as this grant.
The project will also explore articulating apprenticeships as a bridge from associate to bachelor’s degrees into related degrees. Some of SPC’s partners in the grant include:
- Northrop Grumman Corporation
- Pratt Brown & Associates, LLC
- SMC Software
- Bovie Medical Corp.
- Accuform Signs
- Southern Manufacturing Technologies
- Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
- Tampa Bay Technology Forum
- Tampa Bay Technology Leadership Association
- Bay Area Manufacturers Association
- AMSkills (American Manufacturing Skills Initiative)
- CareerSource Pinellas
- Pinellas County Economic Development
- Pinellas Technical College