EFSC Playing Critical Role in First-Of-Its-Kind Apprenticeship Program
Eastern Florida State College’s key role in a unique high-tech apprenticeship program was in the spotlight Monday during a kick-off ceremony for the program with Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program – an industry-driven effort led by several advanced manufacturing companies in Brevard County – is spearheading the effort.
It welcomed its first nine students into the program during an event at OneWeb Satellites at Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park attended by government and business leaders, including DeSantis and EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey.
Under the two-year program, student apprentices will attend EFSC classes two days a week on the Cocoa Campus and work three days a week on the manufacturing floors of participating companies OneWeb Satellites, RUAG Space, Rocket Crafters and Knights Armament.
By mixing classroom learning with on-the-job training, students will graduate with apprenticeship certifications and an Associate Degree in Engineering Technology from the college.
The program, which the Consortium plans to expand, will accomplish two important goals:
- Strengthen the Space Coast’s workforce and help make it a center for high-tech and aerospace manufacturing.
- Give participating companies a solid pipeline of highly skilled workers.
DeSantis said the program was part of a strategy to meet his goal of making Florida first in the nation in skilled workforce development by 2030.
He also said it shows the importance of providing educational options to students outside traditional four-year universities that are not the right fit for everyone.
“My administration is dedicated to expanding valuable workforce education programs and hands-on learning opportunities across our state. These students have a tremendous opportunity to develop new skills and compete for high paying jobs in today’s modern industries,” he said.
Richey said the Consortium represents the “future of Florida” because it will help spur the growth of space companies and other high-tech business, and propel the state’s economy forward.
“All of us at Eastern Florida State College are committed to this effort, using our resources to tailor programs such as these for workforce development.
“Please know the college will tirelessly advance this and other initiatives in the years ahead to create a Florida workforce that is second to none,” he said.
The program will develop mechatronics technicians in its first year. Later, it will train fiber composite technicians and advanced manufacturing machinists.
The consortium approach is the first of its kind in Florida and comes only weeks after DeSantis signed a broad workforce education bill that includes provisions enhancing apprenticeship programs in Florida.
During that event, DeSantis praised EFSC for another apprenticeship program with Lockheed Martin that is training students to work on NASA’s Orion spacecraft for the human exploration of deep space.
The consortium was formed in 2017 by Kai Schmidt, Human Resources Director of OneWeb Satellites and Bryan Kamm, Founder and Principal of Kamm Consulting, to address a shortage of highly skilled advanced manufacturing workforce on the Space Coast.
Having relocated to Florida from Germany, Schmidt knew how similar programs are critical to Germany’s manufacturing prowess.
Kamm also had experience with the German model and saw how it could help his mission to staff RUAG’s new Titusville factory and benefit the entire region as well.