Department of Labor announces grant money for SPC's Emerging Technologies Center

Skills for manufacturing jobs will benefit most

CLEARWATER, Fla. - There is a wide array of buildings and a variety of educational choices at the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg College.

But in one little building, "there's an awful lot of big things going on in here," remarked Associate Dean of Engineering Technology Brad Jenkins.

At the recently opened Collaborative Center for Emerging Technologies, real life skills and opportunities are available to students of all ages.

Jenkins knows the SPC program, and the students that will benefit from it, is just what the workforce is looking for.  

"Companies go out, they're looking for skilled workers. They've got the technology, they've got the equipment, they're looking for skilled workers.  We can provide those training and advanced education here at St. Petersburg College," explained Jenkins.

And the U.S Department of Labor agrees.  They recently announced a half-billion dollar grant impacting nearly 300 community colleges nationwide.

SPC heads a Florida group that was awarded $15 million of that, with $6 million going directly to SPC's Emerging Technologies Center.

With a demand for manufacturing and technology skills, the six million dollar grant awarded to SPC will help enhance the program and train nearly three thousand newly skilled workers.

Students like Elizabeth Hoang, who already has a job at a machine shop, but wants more.  "A whole other job, a whole other aspect of the company. Where I can actually design the products instead of just making them," said Hoang.

Businesses, like ConMed/Linvatec in Largo, utilize the SPC program to help find employees.

"The grant is extremely important to us.  It not only helps us with the quality, some of the hands on manufacturing capabilities,  but it really bridges the operators and the potential students into potential jobs for us," said Bill Mazurek, of ConMed/Linvatec.

From a small building on a college campus, a future workforce is being formed.

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