Suncoast Technical College graduates 21 more precision machinists

Program started in 2013 with funding assistance from the County Commission and the School Board; graduates earning $30,000 to $42,000

Ed Doherty (right) works with an unidentified student in the Precision Machining Program. Image courtesy Sarasota County
Instructor Ed Doherty (right) works with an unidentified student in the Precision Machining Program. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The third class to complete the Suncoast Technical College (STC) precision machining and computerized numerical control automation program graduated on June 23, the Sarasota County School District has announced.

Their accomplishment brings the total number of graduates to 57 since the year-long program started in 2013, a district news release points out. A fourth class of 18 students is set to begin in August, the release notes.

Students graduate with certification from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the release explains. Instructor Ed Doherty says in the release that STC students have earned more NIMS certifications than those at any other school in Florida during the past two years.

All 21 of the latest graduates are starting jobs or continuing their education, the release adds. Wages for graduates average $30,000 to $42,000, the release points out.

The precision machining program was created through a joint effort of the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County, CareerSource Suncoast, Sarasota County Government, the Sarasota County School Board, STC, the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and CareerEdge, a privately funded workforce-development group, the release explains.

In 2013, a skills-gap study conducted by CareerEdge showed that despite high unemployment in the Sarasota County area, manufacturers still had trouble finding skilled workers necessary to expand their businesses.

STC Director Todd Bowden said in the release, “Part of the impetus behind the CareerEdge study was to provide the school district with the data needed to support the manufacturing training. The study was definitive that the jobs were here in this community.”

In June 2013, the Sarasota County Commission approved $343,500 to buy the machining equipment for the program. The Sarasota County School Board provided $655,000 in support for five years.

Doherty said in the release that many of his best students were people who had no previous experience to predict that they would be successful machinists, “but they all had the courage and commitment to give their best effort to finding a new career path.”