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Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Eight St. Petersburg College students were among 22 who took part in the inaugural Tampa Bay Technology Forum Exploratory Labs, an innovative training solution held March 23-27 that addressed the needs of companies in the Tampa Bay area.

The training took place at local companies Tech Data and Valpak and was designed as a business integration experience that compliments traditional classroom curriculum. The goal: to close the skills gap and increase interest in the technology industry among non-technology degree seeking students.

Training program developers included Pat Gehant, Director of Workforce Initiative at TBTF; Angie Beltz, Vice President for Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data; Dr. William Law, President of St. Petersburg College; the TBTF Workforce committee, then chaired by Chris Cate, CIO fro Valpak; and a team of educators from SPC and USF St. Petersburg. They worked together for 18 months to create a training solution that:

  • Engages business in the design and delivery of the curriculum
  • Integrates into the academic setting
  • Does not increase the cost or time to complete a degree
  • Provides a new way for companies to source entry level talent

The training consisted of 70 hours in the classroom and more than 40 hours of out-of-class team activities. The curriculum covered topics such as business planning, integrated marketing, emotional intelligence software licensing, Web, e-commerce, data centers, Agile project management methodologies, among others.

“Having an opportunity to solve a current technological challenge with the possibility of having our solution or parts of it utilized in the ‘real world’ is the best learning experience one could imagine,” said Christl Strachen, a student taking classes at SPC through the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program.

The students spent one day at Valpak learning how Agile methodologies are embraced and effectively deployed throughout a company – not just in Information Technology fields. The students are “chomping at the bit to get started,” said Robert Vigre, an SPC bachelor’s degree student in health administration.

The students graduated during a ceremony at Tech Data on April 14.

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SPC graduate Bryan Calhoun works at LumaStream, an LED manufacturing company in St. Petersburg.

SPC graduate Bryan Calhoun works at LumaStream, an LED manufacturing company in St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg College joins the Florida Department of Education in celebrating Florida Career and Technical Education Month. In honor of the observance, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a proclamation that highlights career and technical education opportunities throughout the state.

SPC’s workforce associate degrees and certificate programs prepare workers for jobs that are among the fastest growing in a number of industries. It is one of 12 state and community colleges in the state that are part of the Florida TRADE Consortium, delivering accelerated training that leads to internships and jobs in manufacturing.

According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Employment Projections Data, by the year 2022 Pinellas County employment in the following careers is expected to grow by the following estimated percentage:

The college also offers training programs for nearly half of the jobs listed in The 100 Best Jobs of 2015 report by US News & World Report.

According to the Florida Department of Education, more than 500,000 Florida students are enrolled in secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs and job preparation programs.

“It’s critical that we provide Florida students a high-quality education that will prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century,” Scott said. “Career and technical education programs across the state are helping our students gain the skills and training they need to be successful now and in the future. Increased funding will help our schools better respond to the workforce needs in their communities.”

In January, Scott announced the 2015-16 “Keep Florida Working” budget proposal, which includes a $30 million for a new STEM-focused occupation workforce training initiative and $5 million to incentivize $10,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees at state colleges.

It has been a focus of SPC to make higher education more affordable and results-oriented. In November 2012, the college became the first state college to accept the “Governor’s $10,000 Degree Challenge” and created a $10,000 tech management degree program.

The governor’s proposed budget also includes a $41 million tax cut for college textbooks and an expansion to the Bright Futures Scholarship program. The January 2015 Florida College System newsletter says the price of college textbooks has continued to increase over the years, often exceeding $100 per book, and estimates that a student taking five courses per term will save, at minimum, $60 per year.

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IMG_2885 (8 of 10)-X3Skills gaps in two of the primary industries in the Tampa Bay region are presenting opportunities for area students.

Since 2012, two separate studies have identified a dearth of skilled employees in the manufacturing and information technology fields. Meanwhile, the need is growing as the Tampa Bay area continues to add post-recession jobs in these two fields.

In 2013, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties housed more than 2,000 manufacturers with a total income contribution of nearly $9 million. With each new manufacturing job comes the creation of an additional 2.65 jobs, causing a ripple-effect on job creation.

Pinellas has the second largest base of manufacturing employment in Florida. The region, home to corporate headquarters or major plants for manufacturing giants such as Gerdau Ameristeel and Honeywell International, continues to grow. Meanwhile, Florida ranks among the top ten states for manufacturing, providing the opportunity for mobility for skilled manufacturers.

Tampa Bay has also become a hotbed of IT companies, including Jabil Circuit, Microsoft and Tech Data. It’s projected that IT job growth will outpace total occupation job growth in the area through 2019. In the Tampa Bay area, IT generates $16 billion in Gross Domestic Product each year.

Like the manufacturing industry, the trend in the Tampa Bay area mimics statewide growth. Florida currently ranks third in the nation for high-tech companies, offering myriad options for professional growth.

Meeting manufacturing, tech employer needs

St. Petersburg College is helping to meet the needs of local employers and the underemployed by preparing students for jobs in these two primary industries. More than half of the college’s fall 2014 graduates came from workforce programs designed to give them the skills and certifications needed to be highly employable in high-wage fields.

“It’s critical for our students and our community as a whole that our efforts at St. Petersburg College are aligned with the needs of local industry,” said Jason Krupp, SPC’s Director of Workforce Services. “Through a renewed focus on workforce programs, certifications and internships, we are preparing our students to enter the workforce more quickly and better prepared than ever before.”

Increasing numbers of students are graduating with industry-recognized IT certifications such as CISCO CCNA, JAVA, A+, Net+, Solid Works and SQL Server.

Debbie Frisch, a database professional and SPC graduate of the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training (HITT) Program in SQL Server said the training she received at St. Petersburg College helped her land a new job as a Marketing Data Specialist at Bright House Networks.

“I am very excited about the job, it seems to be a perfect fit for me,” Frisch said. “The HITT program is a wonderful opportunity and I was so lucky to be able to be involved in it.”

Frisch’s supervisor, Karen Nissen, said that having an employee with SQL knowledge “will add value to our team as our organization is moving toward being more data driven.”

“Being able to query on our data warehouse to get answers to complex questions is what we were looking for in a new employee, and Debbie’s drive to acquire additional SQL skills will ensure she is successful in these tasks,” said Nissen, Marketing Intelligence Manager for Bright House Networks.

Exploratory Lab Boot Camp

The college continues to respond to the needs of local industry. This spring, the college – along with partners Tech Data, Tampa Bay Technology Forum (TBTF), Valpak and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg – launched the Exploratory Lab Boot Camp, a program to give students real-time, real-life exposure to technology skills sought by local companies. The program will help students from any area of academic study pursue the training they need to find high-wage, highly sought jobs.

“The Exploratory Lab is a great example of business and university leadership partnering together to create a unique learning experience that exposes students to the vast tech opportunities in the Tampa Bay area,” said Chris Cate, Vice Chair TBTF, and CIO of Cox Target Media/Valpak.

At the end of the week-long boot camp students will go straight into interviews for jobs and internships with Tech Data, a wholesale distributor of technology products headquartered in Pinellas County.

“Tech Data is excited about the opportunity to be part of a collaborative effort with leaders in the Tampa Bay area and to create best-in-class curriculum and collateral for the Exploratory Lab Boot Camp,” said Angie Beltz, Vice President of Product Marketing for the Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data. “We find this initiative very important because we are exposing non-Technology degree (students) to the opportunities in the technology industry, as well as reinforcing the skills necessary to be qualified for jobs at a company like Tech Data.”

Advanced manufacturing training

St. Petersburg College also provides short-term training programs in advanced manufacturing to prepare students for high-demand jobs in today’s technology-driven manufacturing market.

Through the Florida TRADE Consortium, more than 80 SPC students earned certifications in the fall of 2014 in areas including production technician (MSSC-CPT), CNC operator (NIMS), mechatronics worker (PMMI), computer aided design professional (Solidworks Professional) and safety (OSHA 30).

“These short-term certification programs are game changers,” Krupp said. “We’re putting students on a fast track to employment and providing local employers with skilled staff, now, when they need it. It’s a true win-win.”

(Sources: Enterprise Florida, www.enterpriseflorida.com; Pinellas County Economic Development, www.pced.org; Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, floridajobs.org; Tampa Bay Business Journal, www.bizjournals.com/tampabay; St. Petersburg College, www.spcollege.edu)

 

 

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network_ciscoApplications are being accepted for the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program. Award recipients can complete courses at St. Petersburg College beginning in February 2015.

HITT was created by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2012 to train IT professionals who have been long-term unemployed and help upgrade their technical skills. The program, which was awarded a $3.8 million grant to fund training through April 1, 2016, provides tuition, books and fees for industry certification exams in the information technology field.

Award recipients can complete classes at SPC in the following areas:

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate
  • CompTIA A+ Helpdesk Program
  • SharePoint Administrator
  • Java Web Programming
  • CompTIA Network+ Program
  • CompTIA Security+ Program
  • CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician Program
  • CompTIA A+ Helpdesk Program

For more information about SPC’s academic and non-credit certification programs, contact Mary Schock, Grant Administrative Specialist in Corporate Training at 727-341-4440.

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Tampa Bay Times coverage

Bay News 9’s coverage

To help strengthen the skills of Tampa Bay’s future workforce, St. Petersburg College will award $520,000 in scholarships through a National Science Foundation grant to academically talented and financially disadvantaged students who pursue degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

The initiative will support students as they earn a degree and find employment in STEM fields. The grant will target women and minorities, who have been historically underrepresented in those areas. The program, called Tampa Bay SEEDS (Scholarships for Education & Employment Development in STEM) will also help fill a crucial gap in skilled workers in the Tampa Bay area, Florida and the United States.

“This grant demonstrates SPC’s deep commitment to accessible, learner-centered instruction and STEM education,” said President Bill Law. “The program will ensure a diverse applicant pool for potential STEM scholars at our college. It is very exciting for me personally because the project harmonizes with a student success initiative called The College Experience.”

Through the grant, students will engage in The College Experience by using integrated academic and career advising, tutoring centers, a project-specific orientation and career mentoring. Over the five-year grant, 80 students will be selected to take an employment-centered curriculum that includes job shadowing and internships. Students will work with newly created Campus Faculty Champions, who will give each student a “road map to graduation.” Using this road map, students will identify academic goals, determine which academic support services they need and investigate STEM careers.

“St. Petersburg College is to be commended on its efforts to help students achieve success through a higher education in STEM,” wrote Abdul Lateef, chief executive officer for local manufacturing firm Plasma-Therm, in a letter of support for the project. “This one project could have a lasting impact on the Tampa Bay region and help prepare future workers for high-demand careers in STEM.”

At the state level, Florida will need 120,000 new STEM workers by 2018, according to the Florida Department for Economic Opportunity. In addition, Enterprise Florida estimates that 15 out of the 20 fastest growing job fields in the state will require a STEM education.

Locally, a study commissioned in 2011 by the Tampa Bay Partnership projects that job growth in the high technology electronics and instruments industry and marine and environmental industries will grow by 10% by 2020, resulting in 22,000 new jobs. This report also notes there are 19 billion-dollar corporate headquarters in the Tampa Bay area, with four being Fortune 500 companies. Recently, several national technology companies have located facilities in the area and need an educated workforce with STEM skills.

“We are keenly aware of the worrisome shortage of new graduates entering the workforce in the STEM fields,” said Ed Peachey, president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas. “We are pleased that as students in the Tampa Bay region look to transition to an institution of higher learning, they will find an abundance of STEM training and degree opportunities at St. Petersburg College. For years, SPC has demonstrated its commitment to STEM and to helping attract a diverse group of students.”

SPC will bring its prior experience with STEM scholarship programs to bear, since it has ten years’ experience with similar National Science Foundation grants and initiatives. For example, from 2007 to 2011, Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) were awarded to 152 students, exceeding the project’s goal of 100.

The $6,500 individual scholarships will be available beginning Spring 2015.

STEM-enrollment

STEM-grant-recipients

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Since launching in Fall 2012, the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training (HITT) program at St. Petersburg College has helped 68 previously unemployed IT professionals find jobs.

The training program, funded by a $3.8 million federal grant, offers paid tuition, books and fees for certification training in information technology and telecommunications to the long-term, under- and unemployed in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

A total of 187 residents have enrolled in the program, and 125 have completed training. Programs are offered in computer support, programming and database administration through Corporate Training and the College of Computer and Information Technology. Applicants apply through CareerSource Pinellas.

“We’re extremely excited about helping students in their job search,” said James Connolly, director of Corporate Training at SPC.

Though the objective of the HITT Grant Program is to help the unemployed get back to work quickly, the program also “helps students get the skills they need to move up in the IT field,” said, Marie Couch, coordinator of the HITT grant program at SPC.

“The Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program provides technology training to eligible individuals interested in an IT career for the skill upgrades needed to obtain the industry certifications employers require,” said Michelle Schultz, CareerSource Program Director. “The program delivers fast-track courses, certification assistance and job placement services to support students in reaching the next level of their career.”

Phil Kuligowski earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of South Florida before pursuing his Cisco Certified Network Associate certificate at SPC through HITT.

“SPC has been extremely supportive of my advancement in the IT field,” said Phil Kuligowski, who is now working at Cisco Systems as an Associate Systems Engineer. “I was able to get support through the HITT program to work towards my CCNA Certification. Having student loans, little money, and no prior work experience made it extremely difficult to accomplish much of anything. With their help, a passion for networking, and excellent career advisement, I was able to complete my certifications and get superior support as I applied for various jobs.”

Part of that support came from a newly hired Career Outreach Specialist, who helps students with interview skills, resume writing and job referrals. Once students complete their training, often in as little as eight weeks, they receive a certificate and a voucher to take industry certification exams. Students begin the program with agile development training, which is used in project management and team building, and ranks as the most needed job skill based on a recent IT Skills Gap Analysis.

Potential applicants can apply for CompTIA A+ Helpdesk, CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician programs through Aug. 26.

Training for a Growing Career

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the information technology industry are expected to increase 16% percent by the year 2021. The fastest growing occupations will be computer support specialists (14%), systems analysts (20%), computer engineers (32%) and database administrators (20%). Comparatively, IT occupations across Florida and the Tampa Bay Region will grow at a much higher pace over the next 10 years (22% and 20%, respectively). The median hourly wage for the industry in this region was $29.55 in 2011.

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About 25 prospective and current students attended the college’s Public Policy and Administration information session, held earlier this month.

Public policy pic

A crowd takes part in St. Petersburg College’s Public Policy and Administration information session held July 8.

St. Petersburg College is hosting a series of information sessions in July targeting several programs. Upcoming sessions are:

The Public Policy and Administration information session, held July 8, offered those interested a chance to learn about the program, which provides a foundation in policy formulation, implementation and analysis.

Another session, this time focused on the Elite Educator program, was held July 10. This program is a partnership between SPC and Pinellas County Schools and provides graduates with a paid internship and job with PCS when they successfully complete it.

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