New Skilled-Manufacturing Class Promises Good Job Upon Graduation

MANATEE-SARASOTA COUNTIES, FL (July 11, 2013) – It’s a potential return on investment that is hard to ignore:  The new precision-machining program that begins August 18 at Sarasota County Technical Institute holds the promise of a skilled job with competitive pay upon completion of the one-year course.  That’s because local manufacturers helped design the curriculum to meet real needs in their workforce, and many have committed to hiring successful graduates to fill those vacancies.

“We know there’s a need for the skills being taught in this class, because the employers helped build it,” said Nathalie deWolf, executive director of CareerEdge.  “Local manufacturers will be participating by providing internships and post-graduation jobs for students.”

Among area employers with precision-machining operations are Adams Group, Atlantic Mold and Machining, Cavanaugh Companies, Florida Knife Co., Octex LLC, Southern Springs and Stamping, Sun Hydraulics, and Weber Manufacturing and Supplies.

“There really is no limit to where a precision machinist can take their career,” notes Jennifer Behrens-Schmidt, owner of Atlantic Mold and president of the Sarasota Manatee Manufacturers Association.  “Most precision machinists continue to build their skill set with on-the-job training and go on to become specialists in their fields, earning wages upward of $75,000.  Then there are those, like myself, who have gone on to use their skills to build their own successful manufacturing businesses.”

Organizers envision the 10-month postsecondary course as an opportunity for recent graduates as well as workers who have been laid off and seek to upgrade their skills.  “It’s a fast-track course,” says deWolf.  “Graduates can land a skilled machining job earning $25,000 to $30,000 after only one year of school.”  Pell grants and other financial assistance are available to help offset tuition.

What’s more, notes deWolf, is that the skilled jobs waiting offer career prospects, busting the myth of manufacturing as dirty, low-paying, dead-end work.  “Within a couple of years, these machinists can earn $40,000, and salaries continue to grow from there,” said deWolf.  “It’s a path to sustainable income with significant career-growth potential.”

Prospective students can learn more about the precision-machining class and how to register by calling SCTI at 941.924.1365, extension 62283.

A skills-gap study of the region’s manufacturing sector commissioned by CareerEdge found that more than half of manufacturers see skilled production workers as the sector’s top need, and over 40 percent of jobs have gone unfilled for lack of skilled workers.  Equipped with that data, CareerEdge engaged manufacturers and educators last year in developing a communitywide plan to close skills gaps in the sector and to fill vacancies that are hampering growth.  The SCTI precision-machining course is a direct result of that collaboration.