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Partnerships to Develop Your Team

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Partnerships to Develop Your Team
Launching Tech Careers Through Immersive Learning

Demand for advanced manufacturing workers is growing in Volusia County. That’s great news since many of the career opportunities, like Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT), are financially rewarding and very stable. But many of these opportunities require complex skills that take a lengthy commitment to learn and master. For those willing to make the commitment, there are now multiple paths to get you there, like FAME and the FloridaMakes IMT apprenticeship program.


Thanks to the vision and hard work of a regional coalition, including Daytona State College (DSC), CareerSource Flagler Volusia, Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA), local manufacturers, economic development organizations and more, a clear pathway to becoming an AMT has just been created. Local students and recent graduates can now pursue advanced manufacturing careers through Florida’s first chapter of the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (FAME).

FAME originated 10 years ago in Kentucky at the site of a major Toyota manufacturing complex. It was driven by the need for more workers with the advanced skillsets that Toyota and other manufacturers needed. The movement has gained a great deal of momentum among businesses of all sizes, from mom-and-pop job shops to major manufacturers such as General Electric, Tyson, Caterpillar, Xerox, Trane, 3M and others.

The collaborative effort to bring FAME to our community included several sponsoring manufacturers, a few business support organizations and the program’s education provider, Daytona State College and its Advanced Technology College. Frank Mercer, director of DSC’s Center for Business & Industry (CBI), introduced the concept to local leaders in 2018. Three years later, the Sunshine Chapter of the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education was launched in Volusia County. The initial sponsoring employers, each of which commits time and resources to a student, include Hudson Technologies, Everglades Boats, Germfree Laboratories, Boston Whaler, Dougherty Manufacturing, SCCY Industries, Pentair, ABB and B. Braun Medical.

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“The need for more highly skilled workers has been a common denominator across the national business landscape,” said Artie Loeffler, president of the Florida FAME Sunshine Chapter and Chief Financial Officer of Dynamic Engineering Innovations Inc. “This is the right time and the right program for building technical skills in our manufacturing community.”

FAME’s curriculum is designed to develop skilled technicians at local manufacturing companies and to provide rewarding career opportunities for students enrolled in the program. Students will gain technical knowledge they can apply immediately as employees of their hiring sponsors. Students are paid at a level that offsets the cost of tuition, books and lab fees, making it possible to graduate debt free. They attend classes two days a week and work on the job at the sponsoring company three days a week. Program graduates will have gained knowledge in disciplines such as pneumatics, hydraulics, mechanics, electricity and more. They will graduate as multi-skilled technicians with certification as Advanced Manufacturing Technicians, a designation that is a powerful entry on any resume. After graduation, they are likely to land a job with their sponsoring employer.

“If ever there were a win-win situation for our manufacturers, this is it,” said Loeffler.

Jayne Fifer, president and chair emeritus of VMA and an early and consistent advocate for the FAME concept, agrees.

“The level of support for the program among our manufacturers is a great barometer for predicting FAME’s future success,” said Fifer. “In addition to the rich experiences the program offers, students learn about the joys – and responsibilities – of holding a job. Punctuality. Proper attire. Communications. Responsibility. Professional skills.  All this and more contribute to student preparation to join the workforce and properly represent his or her employer.”

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The FAME program is not restricted to graduating high school students or students already enrolled in college. Yes, recent graduates are the program’s target audience, but workers who want to master technology on their current job or increase their ability to reach higher-level manufacturing positions are welcome to apply as well. Veterans and others who may have left the workforce and want to re-enter with skills in manufacturing technology are welcome to apply as well.  

“From an economic development perspective, the FAME program is certain to have great impact on local manufacturers,” said Helga van Eckert, director of Volusia County’s Economic Development Division. “A more technology-savvy workforce strengthens the case for business to continue operations in this community rather than moving elsewhere. It expands the workforce in dynamic ways and supports the expansion of manufacturers. The economic engine the FAME chapter will become will be substantial for retention of our manufacturers, expansion of their operations, and recruitment of companies eyeing the area for relocation or expansion.”

For more information about FAME, visit


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Another source for advanced manufacturing training is FloridaMakes, through its Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship program (IMT). FloridaMakes is the statewide, industry-led partnership that helps strengthen and advance Florida’s manufacturing economy. Its mission is to improve the productivity and technological performance of Florida’s manufacturing sector. The IMT program helps Florida’s manufacturers bridge skills gaps by creating a pipeline of skilled workers.

The IMT program supports employer needs by helping grow talent internally while motivating employees with a flexible program that builds a career in advanced manufacturing. Traditional apprentice programs, while highly regarded, often experience low participation because the required courses are offered only in the evening inside a physical classroom at a local college or vocational school. IMT offers a re-imagined apprenticeship model that meets the needs of the employer and its workforce.

This new program addresses entry-level skills gaps and provides foundational manufacturing knowledge regardless of the specific occupation, which will help give apprentices the tools they need to move on to more specific occupations. It also provides online, on-demand flexible access for students with lifestyle issues, work schedules and geographical barriers that often prohibit participation in traditional classroom offerings.

FloridaMakes IMT Program requirements and training consist of:

200 online curriculum hours

  • Safety Awareness
  • Quality Practices
  • Manufacturing Processes
  • Maintenance Awareness

12-month or 2,000-hour on-the-job training

  • Equipment Operation
  • Process Improvement
  • Business System
  • Materials & Supplies

Apprenticeships have proven to build employee loyalty, reduce the cost of training, attract more applicants and improve productivity within an organization. By providing on-the-job training, related online instruction and guaranteed wage structures, employers who sponsor apprentices provide incentives to attract and retain more highly qualified employees and improve productivity. Plus, certifications earned through registered apprenticeship programs are recognized nationwide and typically articulate to college credits.

For more information about FloridaMake’s IMT program, visit:

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