Florida Keys Community College Seeks National “Center of Excellence” Designation;

Applauds Monroe County Resolution in Support of National Maritime and Energy Career Training Initiative

KEY WEST, FL, July 16, 2015— Florida Keys Community College (FKCC) received a resolution from the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners on July 15 in support of federal legislation entitled the “Maritime and Energy Workforce Technical Training Enhancement Act,” H.R. 2923.

This newly introduced legislation would create grant programs through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help train workers in the maritime and energy sectors, and would create a first-ever community and technical college Centers of Excellence program.  FKCC, one of a handful of community and technical colleges in the United States that provide maritime and energy workforce training, has been identified as a potential Center of Excellence in light of the growing capabilities of its career training programs.

Maritime and Energy Workforce Technical Training Enhancement Act:

The Maritime and Energy Workforce Technical Training Enhancement Act (H.R. 2923) would establish a maritime and energy technical training grant program that provides financial support for workforce training at community colleges. H.R. 2923 would also allow for the establishment up to 10 Centers of Excellence around the country that would focus on expanding workforce training opportunities and assist with job placement.

H.R. 2923 was introduced in Congress by U.S. Representative Gene Green (D-TX), along with a bipartisan group of original co-sponsors, including Representatives Pete Olson (R-TX), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Brian Babin (R-TX), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Reid Ribble (R-WI).

“We have a surplus of maritime and energy jobs, and not enough people with the skills and training to fill them,” Representative Green stated following the bill’s introduction. “Industry is continuing to invest and grow,” he stated, “and we want to make sure that our constituents have the opportunity to take these high skilled jobs. This bipartisan legislation will help bridge the gap.”  Representative Green called the legislative proposal “good for businesses” and “good for the American economy.”

“For 50 years, FKCC has provided education and training to support the marine and maritime workforce.  Our programs prepare workers for careers in a variety of sectors including diving, transportation, tourism, vessel repair and maintenance, and seaport management,” said Dr. Jonathan Gueverra, FKCC President. “Students and our community are reaping the benefits of having our new Marine Technology facility, but the evolving economic and regulatory environments surrounding sustainability, conservation and preservation require that we stay on the leading edge. Receiving the designation as a Center of Excellence validates our core mission and ultimately provides an avenue to additional resources; FKCC could further expand our training programs and thus our contributions to the workforce and economy in the state of Florida and beyond.”

Support in the Florida Keys for the maritime and energy workforce training legislation:

The Maritime and Energy Workforce Technical Training Enhancement Act has drawn support from government and industry across the country.  In the Florida Keys, in addition to the Monroe County Commissioners, the following organizations have endorsed the initiative and have sent letters of support to Congress:

  • City of Key West
  • City of Marathon
  • Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce
  • Hydrokinetic Energy Corp.
  • Islamorada Chamber of Commerce
  • Key Largo Chamber of Commerce
  • Key West Yacht Club
  • Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce
  • Lower Keys Medical Center
  • Marathon Boat Yard Marine Center
  • Military Affairs Committee of Key West
  • Naval Air Station Key West
  • Port of Key West
  • U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West
  • Village of Islamorada

Background on Florida Keys Community College’s maritime and energy training programs: 

Florida Keys Community College (FKCC) is an open-access educational institution dedicated to serving the intellectual, diverse, cultural, and occupational needs of the Florida Keys as well as the global community.  The College is committed to student-centric academic programs and services, workforce development, continuing education, diverse partnerships, electronically delivered instruction, and sustainable practices that prepare students for personal success and responsible citizenship.

In the Florida Keys, the marine industry is a year-round enterprise that is linked to tourism, diving, fishing, research conservation, and transportation.  Skilled marine mechanics and qualified boat captains are constantly needed to fill positions in the local workforce.  Students at FKCC are able to obtain essential marine career skills, enabling them to enter the local workforce immediately.  FKCC is meeting the challenge in career training in order to prepare the next generation of marine workforce.

FKCC’s Marine Engineering, Management and Seamanship Department offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS), as well as a vocational certificate which can stand alone or articulate into the AAS degree. The AAS degree is designed to prepare a student to enter the professional mariner industry. During the program, students learn about vessels from the keel to the wheel. Students learn about vessel manufacturing, propulsion, power distribution systems, auxiliary systems, and general navigation. The final phase of the training prepares students for vessel operations as both captain and crew.  All phases of marine servicing instruction follow manufacturer and industry standards.

The College also offers a technical certificate which prepares students to immediately enter the workforce.  It is designed for students who pursue training in marine gasoline and diesel engines, fiber glass technology, or welding without immediately pursuing a two-year degree. The certificate attests to the completion of the following courses: Marine Engine Installation and Repowering Procedures; Applied Marine Electricity; Gas & Electric Welding; Marine Corrosion and Corrosion Prevention; Marine Gearcase, Outdrives and Transmission System.

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