Signing On

Dan Freer, manufacturing engineering manager of Boston Whaler in Edgewater, watches as Justin Murray signs up to work for the company during the Volusia Manufacturing Association's FAME Signing Day at Advanced Technology College in Daytona Beach on Friday, Aug. 13.

On August 13, Students signing up with their matched companies at the Volusia Manufacturing Association’s Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education signing day were just as excited as if they were signing a college athletics commitment.

It could be because students will earn while they learn Advanced Manufacturing Technology, professional skills and lean manufacturing as they work at a cutting-edge local manufacturer three days a week, applying what they learn in the two days a week they are in the classroom at Daytona State College’s Advanced Technology Center.

They will graduate with a job offer and great pay, and an associate of science degree with a built-in educational pathway, debt free.

Participating companies include ABB, B. Braun, Boston Whaler, Dougherty Manufacturing, Everglades Boats, Germfree Labs, Hudson Technologies, Pentair Water Solutions, SCCY Firearms and Sparton Electronics.

“This program model was developed by Toyota over 10 years ago, when they faced the skilled labor shortage,” a news release about the signing stated. “It has a track record of success. This is an important step in building the skilled labor force in Volusia County. It is employer-led and a tremendous collaboration of the area manufacturers, Daytona State College, Volusia County Schools and Volusia Manufacturers Association.”

Guest speakers at the signing ceremony at the ATC in Daytona Beach included VMA Director Jayne Fifer,; Dr. Tom LoBasso, DSC president; Artie Loeffleur, VMA/FAME director, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz and Dr. Scott Fritz, VCS superintendent.

“This is a big day for all of us,” Ms. Fifer said. “FAME is a national program purposed to solve the skilled labor shortage. This program has expanded to 14 states with 36 chapters with more than 300 engaged employers. We are a part of this federation now. In fact, we are the first chapter in Florida.”

DSC always has students who can be trained, Dr. LoBasso said. “On the other hand, we have manufacturing companies who need to fill jobs. They need exactly the type of students who are sitting in this room today.”

The matches include Justin Murray with Boston Whaler; Tyler Cheatham, Dougherty Manufacturing; James Brady, ABB; Tanner Thacker, Germfree; James Giesinger, Hudson; Kevin Metcalf, Pentair; and Jacob Havens, SCCY. B. Braun, Sparton and Everglades Boats also are slated to receive students.

The FAME program will fill a need for area manufacturers.

“I’m really pleased to partner with the FAME program,” said Mike Prins, Hudson president. It’s got a good long history of impact across the United States and it’s wonderful that this region of Florida is now able to capture that excellence and bring it here and propel our industry in this region.”

James Giesinger who graduated from Pine Ridge High School in May and lives in Deltona said, “It’s exciting. (I am looking to gain) experience, and education in the manufacturing workforce to help further our industry. I’ve (already) been working there (Hudson Technologies) for about two weeks. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

For FAME eligibility, trainees must be 18 years old or older with a high school diploma and have studied algebra. Students will be trained as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician in a two-year learn while you earn situation.

Manufacturers have experienced a skilled labor shortage for years and FAME will help.

VMA was introduced to the FAME program by Frank Mercer of the Center for Business and Industry at Daytona State College in 2019. Program classes are set to begin Aug. 24.

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