The manufacturing program follows the spring launch of a program at the Broward community college directly tied to a local employer. The Citrix Academy teaches students how to use the software and operating systems designed by the Fort Lauderdale-based company. Broward College President David Armstrong began pushing for the program shortly after taking the top job at the community college in 2007. He said Citrix was threatening to leave Broward in part because it has so much trouble filling tech positions.
A trained workforce has always been a problem for the company, Armstrong said. Citrix stayed, and now Broward expects to graduate about 400 students a year certified to operate the companys systems, which are used in businesses around the world. Derron Stewart, 32, works in the schools IT department but hopes to land a job at Citrix someday. He sees Citrix as a leader in cloud computing, and the Broward course as his best shot at landing a job there.
Its one of the biggest companies in the IT industry, Stewart said. To be able to take a course at the college that actually has a connection to them is very appealing.
Along with tech, schools are looking to capitalize on other growth sectors. South Floridas healthcare industry expanded throughout the recession the medical industry in Miami-Dade saw its 144th month of job growth in July, according to statistics released Friday. Colleges are looking for new niches that could make their offerings more attractive for the already popular field of study.
Florida International University this month launched a masters program dedicated to managing medical paperwork. Called Health Informatics, it has attracted about 25 doctors, nurses and office managers trying to get a leg up in digital records.
This is very much a growing field, said Nancy Borkowski, director of healthcare management systems for the state school. Once you have all of this data, how do you manage it?
As the recession began in late 2007, Miami Dade College launched a bio-tech program within its biology department and has seen demand soar. What attracted about 45 students in the beginning now has nearly 200 students enrolled.
My friends from pre-med, they say, Oh why are you taking bio-tech? Its just tech and research, said Katherine Leon, a 26-year-old working on a DNA analyzer inside a lab at MDCs north campus. But pre-med is just theory.
A two-year degree, MDCs biotech program narrows the sort of biological training a student might receive in a broader healthcare track and focuses on skills needed for entry-level lab positions. My students are truly being prepared to be scientists, said Belmont, the dean. Were training them to be technicians. But we also give them the knowledge to move on.
Weve seen an improvement year after year with the students taking the biotech certificate, said Myra Diaz, a human resources executive at Noven Pharmaceuticals in Miami. Someone with a biotech certificate definitely has a big plus.
At Miami Dade College, most students work at least part-time while attending classes. That makes vocational skills important even for students planning to spend two years at the community college and then transfer to a full university or MDCs own bachelors program to complete their degrees.
As the largest community college in the country, Miami-Dade plays an outsized role in workforce training throughout the region. Florida Power & Light funds a program at MDC to train plant workers for its Turkey Point nuclear facility in Homestead. The Federal Aviation Administration runs an active internship program at MDC to replenish its ranks of air-traffic controllers at Miami International Airport, and both University of Miami and Baptist hospitals use MDC to accelerate nursing training to fill shortages.
One flight of stairs up from Leons lab, Gabriel Pacreau and his two white-coated colleagues each gingerly handled flaky white clumps of what looked like bleached ashes. They were actually the remains of corn cobs, pulverized and treated in an effort to create a cheaper water-filtration material than the current favorite, charcoal.
Pacreau, 22, said he planned to use his MDC courses as a way to transfer to a four-year university and then pursue his studies in the post-graduate level. But he was happy to have options from his training.
If you cant afford to get your phD, he said, you can get a job as a lab technician.