Creating Opportunity Through Partnership
The second St. Petersburg College advanced manufacturing training class is underway at LumaStream Headquarters!
Over a year ago, in March 2013, a partnership between LumaStream and SPC was proposed. This proposition allows students the ability to train in advanced manufacturing, procuring skills, which are in high demand, while learning from working professionals in their desired profession.
“I knew I was working towards something while attending classes. Felt like I had a good enough chance as everyone to be offered a position. If everyone was taken on a level playing field then I had same chance as anyone.” ~ Brian Calhoun
By June 2013, the partnership agreement between LumaStream, SPC and the Florida TRADE consortium was signed and preparations for the first class began. LumaStream’s decision to relocate manufacturing operations from Canada to Midtown St. Petersburg marked the perfect oportunity to secure this collaboration. The partnership supports potential growth for LumaStream, while also providing a real-world learning environment for students.
“It’s a testimony to SPC’s adjusting and responsiveness to the idea,” said George Gordon, LumaStream Advisor and LumaStream’s lead for the SPC partnership.
In January 2014, just a month after LumaStream moved to the Midtown location, the first SPC class began. 12 students were admitted into the 18-week computer numerical controlled (CNC) training. In April, nine students graduated, three of which have been hired to work for LumaStream.
“I knew I was working towards something while attending classes. Felt like I had a good enough chance as everyone to be offered a position. If everyone was taken on a level playing field then I had same chance as anyone,” said Brian Calhoun. Brian had worked for 25 years as a dental technician before enrolling with SPC looking for job security.
Brian Calhoun and Brandon Craver, a former bike mechanic and SPC graduate, are now Machinist Assistants at LumaStream. Frank Arent is now an assembly technician for LumaStream.
LumaStream partnered with SPC through the Florida TRADE consortium, a grant program that provides short-term, hands-on training for high-wage, high-demand technology-driven manufacturing market. This partnership revolutionizes traditional schooling, giving students the ability to learn in the environment they will be working in while giving employers high-tech, skilled employees.
With high-tech manufacturing returning to the United States, more jobs are being created. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employs 12 million people, having added 105,000 jobs over the past year. The problem is that many would-be employers cannot find qualified workers to take these positions, creating what is called a “skills gap”. The LumaStream and SPC partnership combats this problem, providing students training and the ability to work hands-on with a potential employer.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity,” said Eric Higgs, CEO of LumaStream. “They not only learn their specific job but how their job impacts the organization. The college has moved at an astounding pace to make this happen.”
After just one year of partnership, nine students have graduated with nationally recognized manufacturing certifications such as MMS (Manufacturing skills standard) and NIMS (National Institute for metal working skills), three students have been hired at LumaStream, and the second class of 12 has begun.