Polk State Responds to Industry Needs with the Industrial Maintenance Technician Program

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

According to Don Gray, Senior Manager of Manufacturing Maintenance for Publix Super Markets, Inc., “Growth in automation has significantly transformed the landscape of industrial operations. ” This is why Polk State is committed to responding to the needs of local industry. The Polk State Corporate College is excited to announce the newly created Industrial Maintenance Technician Program, an innovative training program meant to develop professionals with multiple skill sets for high-skill, high-wage careers.

The Industrial Maintenance Technician Program is an advanced offering that provides participants with the opportunity to earn skills in a variety of industrial areas, allowing for fluency, adaptability, and versatility in the field. With advancing technology, the need for multi-craft technicians is even more necessary for area employers. “This profession offers career longevity and the exciting challenge of working with leading-edge technology,” said Gray.

“Technicians with experience are great, but more important are technicians that have been trained in the proper methods to resolve issues,” said Paul Brooker, Manager of Maintenance and Engineering at Pepperidge Farms. “Understanding the importance of precision maintenance and preventative maintenance is invaluable. We require that technicians understand all aspects of what drives a machine: pneumatics, electricity, electrical controls, hydraulics, and drivetrain components, as well as how the machine interacts with the rest of the manufacturing process. Having technicians trained in the basics in a formal education setting ensures fluency with skills the minute they walk in the door.”

Today, technicians are expected to master multiple skill sets (e.g., mechanics, electronics, automation, and instrumentation) in order to better maintain the modern, highly technical production processes. Maintenance technicians are integral in any industry that utilizes machinery to provide a service or create a product. A technician’s salary can range from $35,000 – $75,000 (or more) annually. The estimated average wage for an industrial maintenance technician in the state of Florida is $22.00 per hour.

“As automation continues to be a priority for companies in manufacturing, and technology continues to evolve, a highly skilled workforce is an evolving necessity for companies to thrive and be successful,” said James Spalding, Maintenance Manager for Owens Corning. “The days in which an employee only had one skill are over. Today’s employees must be trained in several areas of manufacturing. The Industrial Maintenance Technician Program provides overarching training that helps fill this need.”

“There is great demand for multi-craft industrial maintenance mechanics and electrical and instrumentation (E/I) technicians across the country. Future projections indicate the demand will further increase,” said Malcolm Osenton with Mosaic. “There are two drivers of this demand: retiring baby boomers and fewer young people are seeking this type of work. Also recent news stories have projected increased process automation resulting in manufacturing job losses, but this is not true for maintenance mechanics and E/I technicians–these skilled individuals will continue to be needed to install, maintain, and repair process automation equipment.”

Polk State College fills the gap for employers in need of these multi-craft technicians by teaching the skills necessary for work in broad array of industries such as distribution warehouses, automobile assembly plants, food and beverage packaging facilities, and petroleum refineries.

“The program aligns to eleven different workforce credentials that correspond to occupations listed in the Regional Demand Occupation List for Polk County,” said Program Coordinator Wyatt Dube.

Program benefits include industry-standard credentialing and the opportunity to earn college credit towards the Polk State Associate in Science in Engineering Technology degree. Specific credentials include:

  • MSSC Certified Production Technician Certification (15 Credits)
  • NIMS: Mechanical Systems
  • NIMS: Maintenance Operations
  • NIMS: Hydraulics Systems
  • NIMS: Pneumatic Systems
  • NIMS: Electrical Systems
  • NIMS: Electrical Control Systems
  • NIMS: Maintenance Piping
  • NIMS: Process Control Systems
  • PMMI: Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)
  • WMI/RETA: Ammonia Refrigeration

The program is hands-on and requires students to perform tasks on state-of-the-art, industry-standard equipment to ensure overall competency. Students receive information from industry experts and employers who participate in on-site presentations throughout the program to encourage students and gauge talent. Through a partnership with the Polk Manufacturing Association, students who complete the program can have their résumé shared with members of the organization and other partnering employers. Graduates also receive gift cards from the association for initial tool purchases as they embark on their new careers.

Polk State’s innovative training programs have received the attention of local and state consortiums, as well as manufacturing and production companies.

“The Polk County Manufacturing and Supply Chain Alliance (a group of Polk County manufacturers) meets bi-monthly to discuss the issues shared by our members,” said Director Joy Clancey. “We work to identify young people with the aptitude for today’s manufacturing careers and to assist schools in developing the skills needed in the workforce. We are excited to work with Polk State College, which has been an excellent partner in developing training programs that can lead to valuable careers in manufacturing, right here in Polk County. Polk State leads the entire state of Florida in winning more grant funding than any other school.”

The next cohort of the program runs from October 10, 2017 through June 8, 2018. Classes are held Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Though there is a fee for the program, grants are available through Career Source Polk,  and loans through the Sallie Mae Vocational Training Website.

In addition to the Industrial Maintenance Technician Program, the Polk State Corporate College also offers courses in Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and Manual Machining. The 320-hour CNC Operators course is delivered over eight weeks, Monday through Friday from 8:00am – 5:00pm. The 320-hour CNC Programming course is offered in the same format. Information regarding these programs can be obtained through Program Coordinator Wyatt Dube at (863) 297-1000 Ext. 4670, or wdube@polk.edu. For more information about this and other workforce programs, please visit polk.edu/corporatecollege.

The Polk State Corporate College provides customized workforce training through eight institutes, including the Advanced Manufacturing Institute, Child Care Training Institute, Contractor Safety Training Institute, Insurance Institute, IT/Computer Institute, Professional Development Institute, Real Estate Institute, and Supply Chain Management Institute.