FLATE Focus 

FLATE’s Regional Workforce Workshops

FLATE, the National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center of Excellence for Manufacturing Education in Florida, in partnership with FloridaMakes, the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), successfully convened twelve regional workshops through the Florida Regional Manufacturing Association (RMA) Network.  Between mid-April and mid-October, twelve events were hosted by RMAs involved 390 educators, manufacturers, and a few other stakeholders. The objective of the collective events was to craft the foundation of a statewide community of practice among two-year degree manufacturing programs, regional education partners and the regional manufacturers to support advanced manufacturing education in Florida.  A number of opportunities and challenges were extracted from these meetings and prioritized based on commonality for a state report and summary.  Some challenges were specific to individual regions and have been noted for follow up opportunities.  However, there were several common themes from the convenings related to workforce challenges that deal with talent development, skills gaps in exiting students, as well as the need for increased collaboration and communication between employers and educators.

The FLATE Regional Workshops were a first step in building a more sustainable talent supply that is relevant and reflects the skills and curriculum to support current and future regional manufacturing talent needs. The twelve events lasted 2-3 hours each and there were no formal presentations. Each event ended with the participants identifying a 90-day project that would begin or strengthen communication and collaboration between the employers, workforce partners who supply training funds and the educators to resolve a regional issue. The lively discussions were guided by FLATE facilitators who worked their way through topics on (1) past successful partnerships, (2) what manufacturers need from educators, and (3) what educators need from manufacturers, (4) assets on both sides, (5) barriers on both sides, and (6) ultimately defining a short-term project that would help to start better engagement between the educators and manufacturers. Each project is co-led by one manufacturer and one representative from the state college’s manufacturing program. Watch for details about some of the outcomes and successful projects in upcoming issues of the FLATE Focus.

FLATE would like to thank FloridaMakes for organizing the events with the RMA’s and also the following participating Regional Manufacturers’ Associations who hosted these events. For more information, contact Dr. Marilyn Barger (barger@fl-ate.org).