Valencia College has received a $100,000 grant from the Johnson Controls Community College Partnership Program to expand its associate degree and certificate programs in Energy Management and Controls Technology (EMCT).
Valencia College is one of only 10 colleges selected to join the Johnson Controls Community College Partnership Program this year. In addition to the initial investment, Valencia College is eligible for up to three years of renewed funding, allowing the program to expand and serve future students.
“We are so grateful to Johnson Controls for their support for this innovative program,” said Dr. Kathleen Plinske, president of Valencia College. “With industry partners like Johnson Controls, Valencia College designed this program in consultation with major regional employers to meet the growing demand for energy managers and controls technicians. But what excites us most is how this program can change a students lives, by offering them good wages and a career in a field that is expanding.”
Introduced in 2021, the Johnson Controls Community College Partnership Program fund $15 million over the span of five years to non-profit community colleges throughout North America in support of their HVAC, fire, security and digital academic programs. Funding for each community college differs based on its needs; in general, colleges will use the funding to recruit, support, retain and graduate underserved students who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to pursue higher education.
Valencia College plans to use the funding to purchase equipment for the EMCT program and provide scholarships to increase enrollment with a focus on under-represented groups such as African-American and Hispanic populations, females, and veterans.
Launched in fall 2018, Valencia’s Energy Management and Controls Technology degree program is the first in the state of Florida. Classes are held at Valencia’s West Campus, where the campus’s plant operations facility serves as a laboratory.
As part of the partnership with Valencia College, local Johnson Controls employees will serve as volunteer educators and mentors, providing students with counseling and real-world experiences. The mentoring is directly incorporated into various college programs and provides a pathway for student internships and entry-level opportunities at Johnson Controls.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly eight million skilled-labor jobs were lost from the labor force during the pandemic. About half have been filled, but an estimated four million vacancies remain in industries responsible for more transportation, construction and mechanical needs nationwide. Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that nearly one-fourth of the manufacturing workforce is 55 or older; as they age and retire, there are not enough young people entering the trades to fill their positions. Filling these vacancies to support a healthy industry will take commitment and expertise across generations.
“At Johnson Controls we strive to provide students with appropriate insights, mentorship and knowledge to empower them to move forward with a successful career in infrastructure. In doing so, we will change the trajectory of lives for these students” said Nate Manning, Vice President and President of Building Solutions in North America. “We will continue steering our efforts and initiatives towards preparing the next generation for a rewarding and sustainable career path that will have a lasting impact on the future of green buildings.