EDC offers a life-changing opportunity
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Ten weeks can change a life. Just ask Matt Cromwell. Like many young people, Cromwell did not have a clear career path after graduating from high school.
For a while he tried to move to another house with his father, but the recession canceled that opportunity. Later he checked out working in a call center and hated it.
“I was back at Square One,” said the Palm Bay resident. “I didn’t have much of a future.
His wise pastor, Reverend Paul Fournier of Lifepoint Church in Palm Bay, suggested that Matt investigate the 10-week Certified Production Technician program that the nonprofit business community coalition known as the Florida Space Coast Economic Development Commission name sponsors in East Florida. State University.
It was exactly what Cromwell needed.
Two weeks after graduating from the program, the cost of which was covered by a scholarship, Cromwell had secured a job as an assistant warehouse manager at United Space Coast Cables in Melbourne and worked his way up – in fact, do this sprint – since.
He is currently the warehouse supervisor, but a very busy Cromwell is also a materials manager, works with accounts payable, and communicates with suppliers and the community at large. His company loves him, and he loves his company.
“Every day is a new adventure,” he said. “It’s never boring. It’s a long day, but I love it.
Despite the pandemic, manufacturing jobs like Cromwell’s are still thriving, especially in booming Brevard County.
“Manufacturing offers a very viable career,” said Lynda Weatherman, President and CEO of EDC.
Not that long ago, Brevard lagged behind many parts of the country in job growth.
Weatherman is on a mission to change that fact, meeting with industry leaders such as Elon Musk and Lockheed Martin to familiarize them with the benefits of the Space Coast.
Its efforts to attract manufacturing to Brevard have paid off largely in employment opportunities. Before the pandemic, Brevard’s annual job growth was more than double the national average.
The region currently has more than twice the concentration of manufacturing jobs as much larger metropolitan areas such as Miami, Orlando and Tampa and leads the state in manufacturing employment growth, and Florida does is no slouch in this area as it has developed these types of jobs to three times the national average.
“We are now up there with the fastest growing regions of the country,” said Brian Baluta, director of communications and partner relations at EDC.
“We manufacture everything from medical devices to building materials. We have led the state in employment growth in the manufacturing sector for the past four years and we are above our weight at the national level.
Game-changing projects include
■ Aerion Supersonic, a multi-year investment of $ 300 million that is expected to generate at least 675 new jobs in Melbourne.
■ The move of Lockheed Martin’s ballistic missile headquarters to Titusville brought 350 new jobs to California.
■ Embraer’s manufacturing operations in North America grew locally to nearly 1,000 jobs.
■ Blue Origin’s one million square foot facility just south of the Kennedy Space Center employs 490 people.
■ Northrop Grumman’s presence on Space Coast now has more than 3,000 jobs.
There is only one problem with this otherwise very bright image.
“Manufacturers are looking for experienced workers, and it’s hard to gain experience unless you have a job,” said Mike Ennis, certified CPT instructor for EDC.
To fill this void, the Economic Development Commission has developed a program to promote manufacturing careers and stimulate the development of manufacturing skills in the county.
“EDC stepped in to create the workforce of the future,” Weatherman said.
As aging skilled workers retire, a new army is needed, both to replace them and to meet growing demand. The manufacturing industry is the best kept secret, but EDC is working overtime to raise awareness that the industry offers a lot of job security, challenging work and good wages.
“It’s a rewarding career for anyone, with great salaries and great benefits,” Weatherman said.
Obtaining a CPT rating offers a significant advantage in terms of employability and salary, not to mention college credits. This certification program originally targeted workers who had experience in the manufacturing sector but had no vocational training. It has since evolved to include newcomers to the industry.
The industry-recognized certificate verifies that the student has mastered essential training in safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing process, and production and maintenance awareness. Obtaining certification demonstrates to employers that the employee is serious about their career in the field.
The online format of the course allows students to participate in lectures from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday evenings from their home computers.
Students can interact with their instructor in real time during these lessons, but if they cannot participate in the live lessons, they can always view the lesson later through the link provided and email their questions to the instructor.
Practice quizzes and vocabulary sheets help students prepare for exams, and study labs before each exam allow for additional preparation.
In conjunction with the course, EDC offers mentoring to increase job search success by helping students develop their resume and interview skills and through career fairs that feature students in contact with employers.
“They have a personal interest in you,” Cromwell said.
The program is a haven for families who don’t have the financial resources to pay for their students’ college education and for people who want good jobs without incurring a mountain of college debt.
According to a study by American News and World Report, the average graduate student with debt over $ 30,000. Compare this figure with the cost of the CPT program, a marginal cost since, through the program, EDC reduces program costs per person from $ 1,550 to $ 675, which includes books, fees and supplies.
Additional scholarships are available to cover this cost, however, applicants are responsible for the nominal program fee of $ 125.
Who can become a certified production technician? Anyone Can. The program attracts a wide range of ages and backgrounds, from recent high school graduates to military veterans and adults looking to change careers. No manufacturing experience is required and students can be up to 16 years old to be considered.
The CPT also serves as the first stepping stone towards an Associate of Science degree in Engineering Technology, as completion of the course results in 15 credit hours which can be accumulated towards the 60 credit requirement for the degree.
“The CPT will open the door for you when other credentials are needed,” said Ennis, former supervisor of technicians at Harris Corporation. “It’s a great way to find a job,” Ennis said.
EDC plans to launch the Manufacturing Boot Camp later this year, an intensive learning experience that CPT graduates can enroll in.
“The Boot Camp gives them an additional 12 credit hours, so by the time they complete it, they have a total of 27 credit hours for a 60 credit hour degree,” Ennis said.
Beyond the associate’s degree, students can opt for a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology, offered online by institutions such as Daytona State College.
CPT is a win-win solution for employers and employees. The former are assured of a workforce trained and committed to a long-term career, while the latter can use this training tool to enter a profession that offers job satisfaction, a good standard of living and a great future.
“The CPT is changing lives, one job at a time,” Weatherman said.
For more information on EDC’s Certified Production Technician program, visit SpaceCoastEDC.org or ManufacturingInBrevard.org/CPT