Regional Partnership for Advanced Manufacturing Training

Program Contact: Howard Drake, Director, Polk State Corporate College

Polk State College

General Description

Manufacturing plays a vital role in the economy of Central Florida. The skills gap in the labor supply provided an opportunity for Polk State to launch the College Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing. CAAM is a partnership among area manufacturers and local state colleges that provides training to the manufacturing workforce.

​Program Summary

Manufacturing plays a vital role in the economy of Central Florida by providing products, goods, and services that form the foundation for economic development and employment growth. Initially, business leaders began talks with representatives from Polk State College’s Corporate College about the number of unfilled jobs that required workers to have technical expertise but did not require a bachelor’s degree.  These vacancies were the result of ongoing retirements from the existing workforce. 

Addressing the Issue

The skills gap in the local labor supply provided an opportunity for Polk State College to launch the College Alliance for Advanced Manufacturing (CAAM). CAAM is a partnership among area manufacturers and local state/community colleges. The purpose of CAAM is to address the manufacturing talent pipeline through targeted training programs that are customized to the needs of businesses. Specifically, CAAM focuses on conducting a needs assessment with each industry partner and then implementing a customized training program for new recruits and incumbent workers that addresses the gaps that are identified.  A large component of CAAM is offering career pathways and industry certifications to workers so that skills are continually upgraded and that the goals of the company are met. Another key feature of CAAM is that regional state/community colleges work together across geographic boundaries to ensure that manufacturers have access to a wide range of training and workforce development programs. CAAM has broken down barriers between local colleges by instituting a revenue sharing model that benefits all parties.

Implementing CAAM

By forging successful partnerships between business organizations and educational institutions, CAAM has had a successful five‐year history. Initially, a Program Coordinator was hired to meet with regional colleges as well as key manufacturing organizations and economic development agencies to determine the program’s direction. An agreement was drafted that outlines the cost and profit‐sharing model as well as the logistics involved in offering on‐site training. Post‐ training assessment measures include surveys, focus groups, one‐on‐one meetings and debriefing sessions.

The budget for CAAM includes a quality training program to manufacturers as well as a profit for educational institutions to invest back into program design and improvement.

Results and Impact

CAAM has partnered with 7 state/community colleges in Florida to implement this program. Manufacturing partners include Pepsico, Coca‐Cola, Tropicana, Mosaic, as well as public utilities companies in the Tampa Bay region. Through the numerous partnerships, Polk State College has brought together the necessary organizations to begin to bridge the talent pipeline gap.  Lessons Learned One significant lesson learned is that technical experts who teach CAAM courses would benefit from an introduction to the principles of adult learning theory. Adult learners are motivated by the expected value and usefulness of the program of study and react positively when engaged in the learning process. To address this, Polk State is exploring ways to expose CAAM instructors to adult learning principles through orientation sessions, professional development classes, and online modules. Additionally, developing meaningful partnerships with key stakeholders and industry experts is critical in order to replicate the program.