CareerSource Brevard offers new pre-apprenticeship program to help develop aerospace industry workforce

Innovative, employer-centric, flexible curriculum

Published in Brevard Business News, January 6, 2020

by Ken Datzman

Judy Blanchard and Clinton Hatcher of CareerSource Brevard discuss Aerospace Pre-Apprenticeship program with Brevard Business News
Judy Blanchard is vice president for industry relations at CareerSource Brevard. Clinton Hatcher is a business liaison at CareerSource Brevard. Their organization has introduced the ‘Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship’ program to help develop the aerospace industry workforce pipeline. The initiative targets both job-seekers and employers. The Aero-Flex partners include Tooling U-SME, Career Readiness Courseware and Credentials, and CareerSource Brevard. The six to 12–week program is offered online. They are at the CareerSource headquarters in Rockledge.

ROCKLEDGE — Perhaps the biggest challenge facing the advanced manufacturing industry today is finding and attracting a qualified workforce.

And advanced manufacturing is tied directly to the aerospace industry, as well as many other segments of the economy.

With the national unemployment rate at a 50-year low in America — and an abundance of opportunities across most sectors of the job market — many employers find themselves scrambling to recruit talent in order to continue to grow their enterprises.

“During the Great Recession, we had more than 100 people for every job opening,” said Judy Blanchard, vice president for industry relations at CareerSource Brevard, part of the CareerSource Florida statewide network.

“Today, we have job openings and there is little talent to fill them. So with the growth we have experienced comes workforce challenges. But we can’t just sit back and wait for skilled workers to show up at our doorstep.”

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, American businesses continue to add new jobs, extending consecutive monthly growth to a record 120 months, averaging 167,000 net-new jobs every month of 2019.

Blanchard said CareerSource Brevard “is a demand-driven system. Whatever our industry demands in terms of workforce development, we need to be responsive. That may change from time-to-time, but the foundational building blocks are to pay attention to what the industry needs are, and work closely with the workforce ecosystem — the key stakeholders — to develop a solution. Then it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Locally, there is demand for skilled technical talent in the aerospace industry. Advanced manufacturing skill-sets and competencies are needed to build hardware for that industry.

CareerSource Brevard is answering that challenge and is rolling out a new pre-apprenticeship program to develop the aerospace industry workforce.

As communities across the nation face a manufacturing talent shortage, CareerSource Brevard is putting its resources behind a hands-on training program for talent of all ages and backgrounds to ensure that companies have the workforce pipeline they need to thrive in our region.

“This is a career-launch initiative,” said Clinton Hatcher, a business liaison at CareerSource Brevard. “With this pre-apprenticeship program, we are helping to launch people into new careers, into new pathways. Who better to do this than CareerSource Brevard? We will help them define their career with this program.”

Pre-apprenticeship programs are building blocks for upskilling the workforce and meeting employers’ demands to establish and sustain a skilled workforce pipeline.

The name of the new CareerSource Brevard program, funded by grants, is “Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship.” The training is offered online, and targets unemployed workers, underemployed workers, people wanting to upgrade their skills, or incumbent workers.

“It’s a great program for training online. We learned about this program at the 2019 annual meeting of the National Association of Workforce Boards in Washington, D.C.,” said Blanchard, who attends the annual meeting, which typically attracts 1,500 workforce development professionals, business owners, and policy experts engaging in dialogue on the future of work.

CareerSource Brevard received a $125,000 grant from CareerSource Florida and another $125,000 grant through its relationship with FloridaMakes.

FloridaMakes is a statewide, industry-led partnership that was created to “strengthen and measurably advance” Florida’s manufacturing sector. “We are using the grant funds to develop the outreach and collateral for the employers involved in the program,” said Blanchard.

Florida ranks among the top three states for manufacturing establishments, according to FloridaMakes. There are more than 20,500 manufacturing businesses in the Sunshine State.

According to the Department of Economic Opportunity, Florida has more than 384,000 manufacturing employees. The state’s manufacturing industry has gained 12,600 jobs over the last year.

In Florida, the average wage in manufacturing is over $60,000, and the number and type of jobs available continues to increase.

In Brevard County, 25,641 people were employed in manufacturing in 2018, with “an average annual wage of $89,536,” said Dr. Jerry Parrish, the chief economist and director of research for the Florida Chamber of Commerce in Tallahassee.

Aerospace and related industries make up a sizable piece of manufacturing in Brevard.

“With the great work that the Economic Development Commission of Florida Space Coast’s is doing, along with Space Florida and Enterprise Florida as well as other organizations, the aerospace business is booming,” said Blanchard.

Companies interested in being a part of this CareerSource Brevard program or more information about enrollment into the Aero-Flex Pre-Apprenticeship can contact Blanchard at (321) 394-0567, or at [email protected]. Download the flyer here

Read the rest of the article in Brevard Business News online, page 19.

Connect with a CareerSource Brevard Business Liaison to learn more about how your business can get training funding to invest in your workforce.