Bootcamp on wheels takes training for manufacturing jobs to local talent

Searching for pandemic-era employment with real earning potential? Welcome to the Tampa Bay manufacturing sector. It’s so profitable that local companies are struggling to fill job vacancies, and Tampa Bay Works, AmSkills, and a select group of manufacturers are happy to help. Their mobile two-week boot camp promises participants an OSHA-10 Certificate upon graduation as well as a portfolio of newly learned manufacturing competencies. It also offers immediate job interviews upon graduation and is free to attend.

Lack of transportation is a significant factor preventing residents from low-income neighborhoods from learning about manufacturing career opportunities, so the AmSkills Mobile Workshop brings training to them. That training consists of multiple hands-on projects, blueprint and measurement reading, introduction to soldering and tours of local manufacturing sites. Job interview advice is also shared and graduates are guaranteed an interview on the last day.
Manufacturing stats for Tampa Bay
  • 3,019 manufacturing companies
  • 68,975 manufacturing jobs in Tampa Bay Area (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando)
  • Average annual earnings are $76,987; 27.5% higher than overall average in Tampa Bay
“This could be a life-changing opportunity for those people who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Tom Mudano, AmSkills executive director. “This program is dedicated to providing participants with the information, skills, and opportunity they need to launch a career.”

Bootcamps occur about once each month. Prior to the start, a one-day discovery workshop designed to answer the question: Is a job in the manufacturing sector right for me? is required attendance. Mudano describes the ideal candidate for the program as an adult aged 18 or older and points to an AmSkills goal to help women, underrepresented in the industry, pursue manufacturing careers. AmSkills also identifies manufacturers willing to hire those with criminal backgrounds. The result, he says, can be transformational, and the assistance is ongoing.

Candidates are assigned a coach during boot camp and beyond for up to 90 days. Program companies are provided with training regarding how to properly mentor candidates. Those who are not hired as a result of the training are offered resources as well. 

“This program also helps reduce transportation problems by identifying employers that are close to where participants live,” Mudano says.

COVID-19 has changed the boot-camp experience somewhat; the number of spots available for each session has decreased and social distancing protocols are followed. Past boot camps have traveled to Pinellas and Pasco counties; Hillsborough locations are being planned as well.  Those interested in attending an upcoming workshop should visit the AmSkills website or call 727-301-1282 ext 126 to register. Reservations are accepted until all spots are filled. 
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.