Teachers On The Assembly Line



Manufacturing plants in Southwest Florida may soon become classrooms—for teachers. The Sarasota and Manatee Manufacturers Association right now is recruiting manufacturers in the area to open facilities so school teachers may enroll in internships, all in hopes of creating a better skilled workforce. “There is a need in all of manufacturing for better baseline skills,” said Peter Straw, SAMA executive director.

By partnering with the Sarasota County School District and other business organizations, SAMA hopes to embed more Manufacturing Skills Standards Council certifications being issued to students coming out of high school. “If that can be taught while taking credits in high-school in an engineering focused program, we all benefit,” Straw said.

The goal isn’t to dissuade individuals from a college education, Straw said, but to make sure the science and engineering programs on the rise in public schools are offering high-quality training in skills valuable in the job market. The MSSC program is a national set of standards, so students who complete it can take certifications from state to state, and those who want to go to college instead of the workforce can start off with 15 college credits toward an engineering-type degree that will be accepted at most of Florida’s two-year community colleges. “This raises the bar for everyone employed, from entry-level skills up, in trades like precision engineering or computer assisted drafting,” Straw said. “There is a need for all of that in manufacturing, and the value of MSSC certification is it sets a higher baseline.”

Manufacturers in this area interested in helping can allow school teachers to sign up for internships, where the teachers will spend much of the summer working in plants alongside workers and learn the true demands of modern manufacturing jobs. Interested employers may contact Straw at 941-376-4272.

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