EFSC receives $6.6M grant for high-tech training, CareerSource Brevard gets $3M

Eastern Florida State College has been awarded $6.6 million in state grants to increase the scope of its programs that are training students for the Space Coast's high-tech workforce.

In addition, CareerSource Brevard will receive $3 million that will be used for workforce training and outreach programs, as part of a multifaced allocation announced by Gov. Ron DeSantis during a news conference in Daytona Beach.

And Brevard Public Schools will get funding to help support a certified logistics associate course.

Struggle to fill openings: Brevard employers continue to face hurdles of tight labor market in filling vacancies

Now hiring: Booz Allen plans to add 100 to 150 employees to its high-tech Melbourne staff

In all, the governor's announcement encompassed $29.9 million for programs to support workforce development along the Space Coast and nearby counties.

EFSC training grants

The EFSC grants are multifaceted. Here is a look at EFSC's grants and how they will be used:

  • $4 million Job Growth Grant to expand the college's aviation maintenance program and aerospace technology program, along with upgrading fiber composites, electronics and mechanical labs.

  • $1.6 million Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant for more scholarships, instructors and lab improvements to support the Space Coast Machining Apprenticeship Program and the Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program in areas such as mechatronics, computerized machining and fiber composites.

  • $1 million Cyber/Information Technology Pathways Grant program to expand existing cybersecurity programs, purchase IT equipment and increase the number of students studying in the field.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presents Eastern Florida State College President Jim Richey, at right, with a ceremonial $6.6 million check, signifying funding for workforce development training at the college.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presents Eastern Florida State College President Jim Richey, at right, with a ceremonial $6.6 million check, signifying funding for workforce development training at the college.

EFSC President Jim Richey called the grants "a real game changer" because of the impact they will make on students and industry, and in helping fuel stronger economic growth.

What DeSantis says

"We're basically doing what we can to power through and to provide Floridians with an opportunity to succeed," DeSantis said during his news conference at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. "We're really pleased to be able to announce a nearly $30 million investment in workforce education and job-training opportunities. Starting really in Jacksonville, going all the way down to St. Lucie County, for industries including aerospace, space, aviation, defense, cybersecurity and information technology."

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach to announce new state job-training initiatives. Those behind him include Florida Rep. Thad Altman of Indialantic, just to the governor's left, and to the governor's right, Florida House Speaker-designate Paul Renner of Palm Coast and Florida Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield of Indialantic.
Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach to announce new state job-training initiatives. Those behind him include Florida Rep. Thad Altman of Indialantic, just to the governor's left, and to the governor's right, Florida House Speaker-designate Paul Renner of Palm Coast and Florida Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield of Indialantic.

"The space industry has really flourished in our state like never before," including with commercial space entities, the governor noted.

DeSantis said the program will not only help train future space industry workers for good-paying jobs, but also "to be part of something that's really historic" — the exploration of the moon and Mars.

"These investments will provide Floridians with opportunities to obtain high-paying jobs in top industries that are growing and that are expected to grow," DeSantis said.

Space Florida President and Chief Executive Officer Frank DiBello said: “This investment in workforce education for aerospace-related jobs is a great next step, as Florida continues to establish itself as the leader in commercial space."

CareerSource Brevard funding

CareerSource Brevard President Marci Murphy
CareerSource Brevard President Marci Murphy

CareerSource officials say $3 million in funding for the CareerSource Brevard program — and $6 million in funding for its counterparts covering Flagler, Volusia, Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie counties — come from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which are federal funds provided to Florida for employment and training services for job-seekers meeting eligibility requirements.

"This is an exciting opportunity for regional collaboration to expand the workforce talent in aerospace, aviation, manufacturing and cybersecurity,” CareerSource Brevard President Marci Murphy said. “The CareerSource Brevard board of directors is grateful for the governor’s vision of a synergistic approach to talent pipeline growth that includes the public school system, state colleges and local workforce development boards on Florida’s Atlantic coastline, giving businesses the workforce they need to be successful.”

CareerSource Brevard is the Space Coast's workforce development agency.

CareerSource Brevard Chairman Lloyd Gregg, who is vice president and general manager of space support services at ASRC Federal, said. “We are honored to support the governor’s vision for building the next generation of highly skilled workers."

Brevard Schools, other recipients

Additionally, Brevard Public Schools will receive funding from the Florida Department of Education's Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program.

The grant will help the school district offer a certified logistics associate course, which provides students with the knowledge needed to understand supply chain, material handling, quality control, workplace communication and problem-solving.

Other grant recipients include Indian River State College ($8 million), Daytona State College ($3.9 million), Florida Makes ($1.16 million), and the school districts in Indian River and St. Lucie counties. Florida Makes is a statewide, industry-led, public-private partnership operated by an alliance of Florida's regional manufacturers associations.

Florida Department of Education Senior Chancellor Henry Mack described the collaboration as "a comprehensive strategy to address, short term and long term, the needs of the Space Coast."

Mack called it "an unprecedented investment in workforce education for the region."

Lt. Gov. Nunez 'thrilled' by economy

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez
Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez — who also chairs the Space Florida board of directors — said she is "thrilled to see how Florida continues to ascend to new heights, in particular as it relates to space travel and exploration. Space truly touches all corners of our state — from Key West to Pensacola — and it is indeed a main driver of our economy."

"We know that Florida is the launch capital of the world," Nunez said. "But we've also set out to diversify our space portfolio, and that includes advanced manufacturing, operational readiness, defense, science and technology, making sure that we partner with all of the stakeholders. These are high-skilled, high-tech jobs."

Nunez added that Florida also is "focused on those jobs, through the career and technical education, that will create future welders, as well as engineers, software developers and so much more."

Nunez said the state's "strategic plan will continue to foster, beyond just rockets and launches — although those are exciting — and we look forward to future launches, but also to make sure that our commercial partners recognize that we understand the importance of their industry from the state's economy, making sure that we're providing the level playing field that they need to continue to grow here in our state."

She said the program "will position Florida as a leader in the aerospace industry."

Components of programs

Here is how the overall funding breaks down:

  • Governor’s Job Growth Grant Fund ($11.5 million): To expand and support machining, welding, manufacturing and avionics training programs at Eastern Florida State College, Daytona State College and Indian River State College. The fund promotes public infrastructure and workforce training across the state.

  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act  ($9.0 million): To create the Florida Atlantic Workforce Alliance, a collaborative effort between workforce boards, educational institutions and school systems, and aerospace, aviation, cybersecurity and manufacturing employers from Flagler to Martin counties. The act creates a comprehensive workforce development system that aids job-seekers and employers.

  • Florida Department of Education’s Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant program ($6.4 million): To develop and expand machining and welding, aerospace, cybersecurity  and electrical apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs at the three colleges.

  • Florida Department of Education’s Cyber/Information Technology Pathways Grant program ($3 million): To develop, expand and support cybersecurity programs at the three colleges. The  program is a joint endeavor of the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity  to inspire and prepare more students to pursue careers in cybersecurity/information technology, while helping address a national skills shortage in these areas.

In addition to the three colleges, this initiative involves collaboration among the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the Florida Department of Education, CareerSource Florida, Space Florida, Enterprise Florida and 25 local partners.

Dave Berman is business editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at dberman@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman.

Support local journalism. Unlock unlimited digital access to floridatoday.com. Click here and subscribe today.

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Eastern Florida State College, CareerSource Brevard gets $6.6M grant