Bradenton’s Andy Ryan was working in the retail service industry when the pandemic began in March 2020.
He was put on leave, but he still needed a way to support his family.
“It seemed like a good time to go back to school because there’s kind of a ceiling on what I could make selling jewelry at Zales,” Ryan said.
Ryan heard positive feedback about Manatee Technical College and was considering getting industry certifications through the technical college when he found out about MTC’s Rapid Accreditation Project.
The Rapid Accreditation Project offers MTC a way to help people whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic re-enter the workforce.
Ryan decided to apply for the Cyber Security Program under the Rapid Accreditation Project. Through his research, he saw that cybersecurity was a growing industry and he always had an interest in information technology.
Before Ryan completed the Applied Cyber Security program at MTC in 2021, he accepted a job offer with the Manatee County School District.
“I was nervous at first when I started because this is my first job in a new industry and I only took this course,” Ryan said. “After being there for a few weeks, if any, this class overqualified me for this position.”
The Rapid Accreditation Project has helped 116 students earn 159 industry certifications in programs including advanced manufacturing and production technology, phlebotomy, nurse assistant and more.
“It was great because it was a nice, short program for a high-demand career,” said Linda Chamberlain, the MTC’s phlebotomy program instructor. “It’s such a great opportunity for someone to shift gears in life, change the direction of their career path, and be able to complete this in such a short time.”
After seeing the success of the 2020-2021 Rapid Accreditation Project, Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Education awarded MTC a $550,000 grant this month to continue the project. The grant is provided through the Education Emergency Relief Fund under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
In Spring 2022, students can apply for the Rapid Accreditation Project in programs such as Phlebotomy, Advanced Manufacturing, Entry-Level Driving and Marketing, Management and Entrepreneurial Principles as well as Global Logistics and Supply Chain Distribution.
The project helps students transition into potential new careers faster than attending a regular program at MTC or pursuing other post-secondary education.
“I tried to do your traditional graduate school before, and it wasn’t for me because there were a lot of extra courses to take that were unrelated to what you were interested in,” Ryan said. “It was good to have this class that I’m taking and I can focus on that.”
Chamberlain said the Rapid Accreditation Project helps graduates embark on new careers and can be used as a stepping stone to progress.
Ryan, Chamberlain and Gil Burlew, MTC’s Advanced Manufacturing Program Instructor, all said students graduating from Rapid Accreditation Project programs help meet the demand for people in these industries.
“It takes a lot of the pressure off knowing that I was able to go straight to work,” Ryan said. “It gives me a lot of optimism for my career and the future. It made me feel a bit validated that I was smart enough to transition from a job in retail to an intellectually challenging IT job.
Burlew said “some of the biggest companies” in Florida and the country hire his advanced manufacturing students. The program offers 100% placement for students, he said.
“Advanced manufacturing is a game changer, changing the lives of so many of my students,” Burlew said. “There is a waiting list for companies that want to hire my people. There is such a demand right now in the manufacturing sector for skilled workers. »
For phlebotomy, Chamberlain said graduates are not limited to working only in hospital settings. There are other opportunities within doctors’ offices, outpatient labs, and various hospital departments.
“Manatee Technical College has a very good reputation for the quality of its students, so we are able to meet that community need and through the reputation they know they are getting good graduates,” said Chamberlain. “Being able to do this in such a short time to meet such a large need is hugely important.”
Working in the Manatee County School District as the computer lab supervisor at Martha B. King Middle School gave Ryan the flexibility to drop off and pick up his children from school every day and be on break at the same time as her children. The job also provides him with learning materials that allow him to advance his knowledge and career in cybersecurity.
“Now that I’ve started, I find (cybersecurity) incredibly interesting,” Ryan said. “It matches a lot of my natural inclinations, and it will suit me in the future.”