Sarasota Manatee Area Manufacturers Association Aims To Change Industry

The manufacturing industry has evolved to the point where people can make a career out of what were once dead-end jobs and continue to earn a degree while working.

An advanced training program started with Peter Straw, executive director at Sarasota Manatee Area Manufacturers Association, when he was approached by Dr. Eric Roe a few years ago.

According to Straw, Roe saw an opportunity to gain some funding by forming a coalition of five Tampa Bay counties, five community colleges and regional manufacturing associations.

This coalition started the banner centers of manufacturing education using funding from Employ Florida.

The idea, Straw says, was to see what manufacturing companies needed and try to find solutions.

A study done by the National Association of Manufacturers showed that 40 percent of applicants did not have the appropriate skills for manufacturing jobs.

Roe had a vision to create national certification in manufacturing. There was already a group called Manufacturing Skills Standards Council in Washington that was all about upgrading entry level skills for manufacturing employees.

So with grant money, Row and Straw held focus groups in five areas around Florida. They brought together manufacturing employers, educators, and workforce and economic development people. According to Straw, they looked to the future to figure out what was needed.

Three years later they have programs that allow people to get certifications from Manufacturing Skills Standards Council that are nationally recognized.

Manufacturing companies are looking to hire people through the Tampa Bay region and have experienced a 14 percent increase in jobs from a year ago.

A certification earned through the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council can help applicants prepare for these openings.

With certification, people also gain 15 credit hours toward an engineering degree with participating colleges.

"It's no longer go to work in manufacturing as a dead end job," Straw said.

Writer: Mandy Erfourth
Source: Peter Straw, Sarasota Manatee Area Manufacturers Association

Signup for Email Alerts