FORT PIERCE – Governor Rick Scott announced on Oct. 30, 2018, that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has awarded a $1.53 million grant to Indian River State College through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. This award will allow IRSC to expand its nationally recognized model of workforce training and industry partnerships into a new IRSC Aviation and Marine Training Program to meet the growing workforce needs of two key industries.
The marine and aerospace industries are significant employers and agents of economic development for Florida’s Treasure Coast. Combined they currently have more than 300 high-wage job openings. Growth in these industries is limited by the need for a specially trained workforce across all levels of employment, which will be addressed by the IRSC Aviation and Marine Training Program.
“Indian River State College has a proven track record of directly responding to workforce needs, particularly in rapidly evolving industries such as aviation and marine manufacturing,” said Dr. Edwin Massey, IRSC President. “We greatly appreciate this support from Governor Scott and the Department of Economic Opportunity as it will help grow local industry and most importantly, expand a talent pipeline of skilled workers, helping hundreds of students qualify for high-wage employment.”
Responsive to community needs for high-tech industrial training and technical certificate programs, the new IRSC Aviation and Marine Training Program will enable IRSC to train up to 140 workers each year. These needs were recognized in the 2017 Treasure Coast Skills Gap Study completed by the St. Lucie County Economic Development Council.
“Manufacturing is so vitally important to the Treasure Coast and Florida as a rich source of high-skill, high-wage jobs. Our region boasts a well-defined cluster of aviation and marine-related companies which are growing and expanding,” said Peter Tesch, President, Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County. “Workforce readiness is now the currency of economic development and the Governor’s award of the Job Growth Grant Fund to IRSC will pay dividends to both employers and the skilled professionals they hire.”
The Aviation and Marine Training Program will prepare workers for careers with average starting salaries of $44,000 a year—$11,000 over the current average regional salary. This is a $2.8 million direct increase and a $14 million indirect increase to the local economy. The personal and community impact provides sustainable, strong middle class salaries to strengthen our economy and community for years to come.
“Maverick Boat Group is committed to the Treasure Coast and will be hiring a significant number of people in the next few years. Because of the grant we’ll be able to pull from a pool of trained applicants and that will help us be competitive with builders from other states who take robust advantage of similar programs. This will help us grow our business,” added Scott Deal, President of Maverick Boat Group.
New offerings in the IRSC Aviation and Marine Training Program will launch quick response clock-hour and degree tracks in both sectors to address all levels of skills needed. The program will be patterned after IRSC trade programs in other fields, which boast 90% graduation and placement rates. This sustainable approach is strengthened by quick response and small class sizes leading to high success rates.
Reinforcing the grant proposal is the strong collaboration between IRSC, industry and community partners. Many of these partners provided letters of support for the Aviation and Marine Training Grant. Key partnerships include: The St. Lucie Economic Development Council; the Martin County Business Development Board; Indian River County Economic Development; CareerSource Research Coast; the Small Business Development Center at IRSC; the Treasure Coast Manufacturing Association; St. Lucie County; Maverick Boat Group; Pursuit Boats; Paradigm Precision; Triumph Aerostructures -Vought Aircraft Division; Piper Aircraft; Seatorque; Advanced Manufacturing and Tooling; Phoenix Metals; and Jet Craft Aerostructures.
IRSC has been a workforce training leader in high-tech industrial training on the Treasure Coast for decades. In conjunction with programs such as the new Aviation and Marine Training Program, the planned construction of the Treasure Coast Advanced Manufacturing Center will additionally increase instructional space, technology and lab space to expand the workforce and create a continuous flow of skilled workers in the region. The $23.3 million facility has a remaining funding need of $14.8 million to expand capacity and produce more graduates in industrial fields.
IRSC Aviation and Marine Training fast-track programs are planned to launch in 2019 with degree programs planned to start in the next academic year.
This article was distributed through Treasure Coast Business, a news service for the readers and advertisers of Indian River Magazine.