Volusia and Flagler counties are embarking this month on one of the nation’s most respected and innovative programs for educating and advancing skilled workers into the local manufacturing industry.
FAME (Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education) operates through an ‘earn while you learn’ model. Ten participating companies are sponsoring students who will divide their week between working for one of the manufacturers and attending classes at Daytona State College. Upon graduation, they will have an associate degree, be virtually debt-free and have gainful employment as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT).
The program is a combined effort of local manufacturers, the Volusia Manufacturers Association (VMA), Daytona State College (DSC) and CareerSource Flagler Volusia. VMA leaders have been working for the past year to organize the local “FL FAME Sunshine Chapter,” and it begins Aug. 13 with a ‘commitment signing’ ceremony for the students, followed by the start of DSC’s fall semester on August 23.
VMA was introduced to FAME by Frank Mercer, director of DSC’s Center for Business and Industry. “The local manufacturers have been experiencing a skilled labor shortage for years,” comments Jayne Fifer, VMA’s President / CEO. “It appealed to our manufacturers because it was manufacturer-led which meant they could adapt the program to produce workers skilled in the areas most needed, particularly Advanced Manufacturing Technicians,” Fifer adds.
FAME USA was founded in Kentucky in 2010 through an innovative partnership between the Toyota Corporation and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College. The goal is to help solve a local skills trade shortage while providing a pathway for people to earn a technical degree debt-free. And now the program has expanded to 14 states with 36 chapters and more than 300 engaged employers – including such well-known names as Toyota, GE, Hershey, Caterpillar, Tyson, Trane, Kohler, Xerox and 3M.