Career counselors and teachers go on VMA tour to learn about manufacturing career opportunities in the two counties.
Sometimes adults get to go on field trips. On Friday, Oct. 23, the Volusia Manufacturing Association (VMA) chartered buses to educate the educators in Volusia and Flagler counties about the thriving manufacturing industries that seem to be a well-kept secret.
“I have lived here most of my life and I didn’t know there was this much manufacturing in Flagler and Volusia counties,” Flagler Technical Institute Director Kevin McCarthy said. “We are very excited to be on this tour because it is my goal as director of FTI to expand our course offerings to meet the local demand.”
Valdrena Yisrael, a computer applications and science teacher at Ormond Beach Middle School said what she learned, during the first half of the day-long tour, would be a benefit to her eighth-grade advance class that would be going into the high school academies.
“I did not know that there were so many manufacturing businesses here in the area, and so close to our school; where our kids live,” she said.
There were no school team colors on this trip, everyone wore VMA blue and yellow T-shirts; even the drinks served at lunch were blue and yellow lemonade.
“This is the first time ever, the only one in the state for sure, and I think the country, where we have taken school counselors and career counselors to connect them to the local industry,” VMA President and CEO Jane Fifer said.
“I have lived here most of my life and I didn’t know there was this much manufacturing in Flagler and Volusia counties,” Flagler Technical Institute Director Kevin McCarthy.
The first half of the day was spent visiting manufacturing sites to learn about the businesses and the programs they have in place for their employees. In the afternoon the groups stayed on their busses to tour the industrial parks in Ormond Beach and Daytona Beach.
“Eye-opener” was the expression Lynette Shott, director of student and community engagement used after learning the number of jobs, the salaries and career opportunities that are available in her own backyard.
“It’s been a really good opportunity to get a solid feel and to be able to learn the path that leads those employees into their careers,” she said. “That will help us as we are helping our kids chart these paths for themselves.”
Seabreeze guidance counselor, Mike Austin said having information about the different opportunities available would allow him to help students in job searches they may not realize exist.
“They just see tourism as the main industry and there’s a lot more good things going on in town,” Austin said. “A lot of students are not ready to go to college right now. Further down the road this can help them go to college.”
The benefits the companies offered their employees also impressed Shott.
“Teledyne and Hudson spoke about how they internally build and support their employees with tuition reimbursement, certification opportunities and training,” Shott said. “These are the types of companies that once they bring somebody into their pool, they are nurturing them to remain a long-term employee, which makes them long-term residents, and long-term contributors to our economic development.”
Fifer said that the VMA tour was a success and benefit for all; the local companies in need of new employees and students graduating from high school and college searching for jobs.
“The point was to introduce them to manufacturing in the area they didn’t know existed,” Fifer said. “We can solve the problem of labor in this area.”