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College and Career Prep in Greater Daytona, FL

Grants fund future-ready college and career pathways.

By Karen Vernon on May 2, 2023

L. Gale Lemerand Student Center at Daytona State College
Nathan Lambrecht

Thanks to new state funding and creative educational partnerships, Greater Daytona is investing in innovative workforce development initiatives to meet the growing demand.

“We want every student to be both college and career ready,” says Gabriel Berrio, assistant superintendent for Volusia County Schools.

The district works with the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce to survey students’ aptitudes and interests, then matches that with data on skills needed to develop programs to meet those needs.

Expanding Opportunities

The Pathways to Career Opportunities grant is fueling partnerships between Volusia County Schools and Daytona State College.

“Daytona State College and Volusia County Schools have always enjoyed a robust collaboration on many projects that expose students to opportunities and open up the K-12 pathways to college,” says Dr. Sherryl Weems, associate vice president for Daytona State’s Mary Karl College of Workforce and Continuing Education. 

Weems says this grant will support Volusia County’s existing efforts to expand its electrical pre-apprenticeship program.

“Daytona State brings time-honored experience, with three registered apprenticeship programs,” she says. “We work together to make sure students are getting the appropriate curriculum at the high school level.”

The grant will provide additional funding for equipment, supplies and curriculum at Taylor Middle-High School in Pierson and Mainland in Daytona, Berrio says.

“For the electrical program and many of our career and technical programs, employers are already visiting our schools and recruiting our students.”

Gabriel Berrio, Volusia County Schools

Scaling Up

A Job Growth grant will enhance Daytona State’s machining and welding programs. “We’ve been looking at ways to scale our machining and welding program for a number of years,” Weems says. Previous grants allowed improvements in facilities and equipment and introduced new technologies, she continues. “We can now introduce an advanced training opportunity for students, including expanding on our Deltona campus and adding virtual reality technology.”

Shrie Ramey-Allen, Daytona State’s director of workforce and continuing education, says that incorporating virtual reality is helping with basic skill development like hand-motion control. Upgrades for the machining program include more portable tabletop equipment.

“It’s very helpful when we are educating people about our programs if they cannot just hear about it, but experience it,” Ramey-Allen says.

Cybersecurity program at Daytona State College
Nathan Lambrecht

Advances in Cybersecurity

The Cyber/IT Pathways grant is providing Daytona State the opportunity to develop a state-of-the-art Center for Cybersecurity at its Advanced Technology College.

“The main purpose is to simulate cyber-attacks with different levels of complexity,” says Dante Leon, associate vice president at Daytona State College. “We will show different scenarios and can train people at the associate and bachelor’s level, as well as incumbent workers.”

The center will include a cyber range that simulates on-screen attacks and lets students practice defense and mitigation techniques. “We will also provide services to companies that want to train their own cyber or IT staff, who can use this facility,” Leon says.

Students meet at the common area of the Advanced Technology College.
Nathan Lambrecht

Real World Results

Berrio says the courses Daytona State offers mean Volusia County high school students enjoy the benefits of dual enrollment.

“We’ve had more than 100 students graduate with an associate degree from Daytona State, finishing high school and getting that degree at the same time,” he says. “The students coming out of these programs are being offered jobs. Former students come back and tell us this is for real, and they work to recruit current students. Students have different pathways, and can graduate high school ready for work, or college, or both.”

Further, Leon explains, the training offered by Daytona State enables students to have a better life and a better income for their families.

“My consistent refrain is to make these industries user-friendly. When you think about higher education, people automatically default to the four-year pathway,” Weems says. “We know the Career and Technical Education pathways have equal value and are of equal quality in terms of the choices students have. It is most rewarding when students and parents come away with that ‘ah-ha.’ People don’t realize the opportunities that are embedded here.”

Available Jobs

Speaking of opportunity, the region is home to several good-paying industrial jobs.

According to Zippia.com, the average auto body technician salary in America in 2022 was $62,000, and the average CNC (computer numerical control) advanced machinist salary was $55,000. Meanwhile, experienced contract welders could earn more than $100,000 during the year.

Given that jobs like these are in high demand in the county, Daytona State College offers a School of Workforce Training that enables students to pursue such career pathways in a short amount of time. Students can often earn one-year certificates that give them a foundation of knowledge and skills for the job market in their desired industry. In addition, School of Workforce Training staffers can help successful students find ideal jobs in the region as well as apprenticeship and intern opportunities.

There are 12 programs offered to Workforce Training students at Daytona State. The programs are advanced manufacturing, automotive collision repair & refinishing, automotive service technology, building trades & construction design, CNC machining, electrical apprentice (nonunion), electrical apprentice (union), heating/ventilation/air conditioning mechanic, HVAC technology, plumbers & pipefitters (union), welding technology and advanced welding.

Kevin Litwin contributed to this article.

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