Valencia Wins $2.5 Million Federal Grant to Expand Training in High-Tech Manufacturing

Valencia College will be training even more students for high-paying jobs thanks to a $2,499,902 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education. Valencia is one of 270 community colleges in the nation—and one of five in Florida—to share in a total of $450 million in grants under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative (TAACCCT). The funds will help community colleges enhance and expand training and education for in-demand jobs.

Valencia will use the money to focus on recruiting the unemployed, veterans and women for skilled jobs in Florida’s manufacturing industry. Valencia’s “M-Path” initiative will lay out a path for students to obtain industry certifications, college-level technical certificates and degrees in key areas of need in the state’s manufacturing sector.

There are currently more than 5,000 job openings for skilled workers, according to the Manufacturers Association of Florida. But because there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the positions, the state’s 17,000 manufacturers – who make everything from electronics to medical devices – often spend months looking for qualified candidates to fill open positions.

“These are jobs that require technical expertise and specific credentials in order for workers to qualify,” said Joe Battista, chief operating officer of Valencia’s Continuing Education department. “Valencia is designing programs that won’t take workers a long time to get there. Plus, they can seek advanced education with credits that transfer to an Associate in Science degree.”

Using money from the grant, Valencia will create the curriculum, hire faculty, purchase equipment and design a manufacturing technology lab for hands-on skills training. Valencia, CareerSource Central Florida and community organizations will provide students with educational advising and support services and help connect graduates with local employers.

As mandated by the grant, Valencia will work with employers to ensure that students obtain the skills needed to find jobs as well as opportunities for career advancement. Business partners will include Lockheed Martin, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Amazon Hose & Rubber Co., Nautique Boat Co., Collins Manufacturing, Inc., Hernon Manufacturing, Central Florida Box Corp, Inc., .decimal, Metal Essence and Martin Brower, LLC.

In 2012, Valencia along with a consortium of Florida community colleges received a $683,000 Florida TRADE grant under the TAACCCT initiative to develop a six-month training program to fill the shortage of skilled workers needed by the state’s manufacturing industry. The first 20 students graduated from the program in May and most found jobs immediately. The $2.5 million grant will greatly expand on that, with new certifications and college-level technical certificates, and training in areas including mechatronics, MSSC Certified Production Technician, MSSC Certified Logistics Certification, assembly, advanced welding technology, and quality and inspection specialist.

For more information on the grant, please contact Joe Battista at or 407-582-6688.