Polk State College’s Eric Roe was among the presenters at Thursday’s Florida STEM Forum, an event aimed at helping to create a more highly trained workforce.
The Florida STEM Forum, which took place in Orlando, brings together large and small manufacturers, leaders from various colleges and career academies, and representatives from the Manufacturing Association of Florida, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Council of 100, a group of business leaders who advise the governor.
During the event, attendees share and identify best practices for preparing students for manufacturing and STEM-related jobs, thereby addressing the workforce needs of employers.
Roe, director of Applied Technology at the College, participated in a panel discussion on sharing best practices in education that was facilitated by Florida Chamber Foundation Executive Vice President Tony Carvajal.
Roe highlighted the Polk State Corporate College’s award-winning Mosaic Apprenticeship Program. Through the program, Mosaic employees complete classroom studies and on-the-job training to become millwrights/mechanics and electrical, instrumentation and automation (EIA) technicians. Students receive nationally recognized certifications and articulated credit toward the College’s Associate in Science degree in Engineering Technology.
The program began in 2008 after the company approached the Polk State Corporate College with a dilemma: It didn’t have enough highly skilled workers in line to fill available positions, and the problem only stood to worsen as employees reached retirement age.
Mosaic and Polk State worked together to develop the program, along with the Advanced Manufacturing Talent Development Institute, a statewide resource housed at the College, and Rockwell Automation, a leader in industrial automation.
“The result is a program that prepares the needed skilled-craft workforce while providing academic credit and a pathway to a college degree,” Roe said.
The Polk State Corporate College each year trains nearly 12,000 members of the Polk County workforce, equipping them with certifications and updated skills in fields as diverse as childcare and advanced manufacturing.