Space Coast's first industry-driven apprenticeship program begins, takes in nine students

Nine Eastern Florida State College students are now officially apprentices under the first industry-driven apprenticeship program on the Space Coast.

The new Space Coast Consortium Apprenticeship Program is a two-year program that will develop mechatronics technicians, fiber composite technicians and advanced CNC/DNC machinists.

Apprentices will work part-time, paid positions at SCCAP member companies while attending Eastern Florida State College. The program is led in partnership with the college and is registered with the Florida Department of Education.

“I’ll be working with maintenance. I’ll be working with the automation gentlemen and the mechanical gentlemen,” said Christians Arias, a 23-year-old who will do his apprenticeship at Knights Armament, a weapons manufacturer.

“When you’re in the classroom environment you can play with equipment, tools and you’re reading books, studying theory. But nothing beats actual real-world experience.”

Four advanced manufacturing companies are SCCAP members, including OneWeb Satellites, RUAG Space, Rocket Crafters, and Knights Armament. Apprentices will work three days in the factory and two days in the classroom.

“Building from the ground up with solid, next generation advanced manufacturing skills has got to be a key part of what we do for our future,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello.

Governor Ron DeSantis applauded the new program. It comes just weeks after he signed a bill expanding student access to workforce training and apprenticeships.

“There are alternative pathways that when I was growing up were frowned upon and I don’t think that’s right to frown upon them. I think the people going through these apprenticeship programs will have the chance to be productive citizens, they’re going to have the chance to make good incomes.”

Apprentices will be offered a full-time job and earn world-class apprenticeship certifications upon successful completion of the program. Students will start their apprenticeships on Aug 12th.

SCCAP hopes to expand the program next year.