Indian River State College (IRSC) hosted a roundtable discussion featuring executives from manufacturing companies on the Treasure Coast, local economic development professionals, and workforce education leaders from the College on Friday, November 4, at the Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at IRSC’s Massey Campus in Fort Pierce.
The 2022 Manufacturing CEO Roundtable discussion was moderated by IRSC Pruitt Campus President Andy Treadwell, IRSC Vice President of Research and Institutional Effectiveness Dr. Angela Browning, and Pete Tesch, President of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County.
“Manufacturing has a skills gap—we know that,” Treadwell told the executives. “We want to recommit to you today that moving forward we want to work as partners to address the issues that you all are facing in your businesses.”
IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore then provided some opening remarks. “This College exists for one reason and that is to produce a skilled workforce to help promote manufacturing and to improve the academic livelihood of all our citizens,” Dr. Moore said. “We’re here to support your goals. I want to put the best-in-class facilities here that you can exploit, I want to put students in here that you can excite, and I want to build that bridge between where education ends and employment begins.”
Dr. Browning presented an overview of opportunities offered by IRSC to partner with local companies, including Associate and Bachelor’s Degree programs, certificate programs, workforce training and apprenticeships. “We have been given the charge of thinking about new ways to partner,” she said. “We have a history of partnering with industry and making sure that we are identifying the gaps that exist between curriculum and the skills that are needed in the workplace.”
The College can provide skills in the areas of advanced welding, automotive technology, aviation, marine, and manufacturing, Dr. Browning said, but the purpose of the roundtable discussion is to hear about other skills needed by the companies in attendance.
Bill Solomon, IRSC’s Dean of Workforce Education and Advanced Technology, provided an overview of the College’s $26 million, 60,000-square-foot Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex, now under construction on the Massey Campus. Roundtable participants were given a tour of the Complex after the discussion. The Complex is slated to open to students in the Fall 2023 semester.
If Florida was an independent nation, it would have the 15th largest economy in the world, Solomon said. The goal is to be 10th largest by 2030, he said. Although the population of Florida grows by a net 1,000 people per day, more than 18% of Floridians under age 18 fall below the poverty level, Solomon said. “We hope that some of what we are doing will change that,” he said.
Participating in the roundtable discussion were leaders from businesses across IRSC’s four-county service district. The organizations varied in products from medical devices to roofing tiles, boats, aircraft turbines and more. The College will host additional events with industry leaders, including a follow-up session aligned with the opening of the Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex in 2023.