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Fifteen Miami Dade College Clean Energy Institute graduates have been hired by Florida Power & Light, bringing their skills to an industry that needs and values a well-trained workforce.
At a recent ceremony for the newly hired employees, FPL also recognized three workers from the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant who took MDC courses to enhance their knowledge and their careers.
“This is the lifeline of the future of nuclear power in South Florida,” said Kevin O’Hare, the plant’s maintenance planning manager. “Our nation is facing a critical shortage of energy and nuclear skilled workers. About a third of our workforce is set to retire in the very near future.”
The program, which has a waiting list of applicants, was developed by MDC and the electrical utility in partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for maintenance positions at the plant. MDC was one of the first schools to offer Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program certification, which verifies that students have completed the first two years of a three-year apprenticeship program and qualifies them to work at any nuclear plant in the country, said Dr. Richard White, director of MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology.
“It’s a specialized program,” he said of the two years of study that include power plant operations, technology and hands-on experience in a paid summer internship at Turkey Point that concludes with an Associate in Science degree. The new hires will work full time at Turkey Point or an FPL substation. In the MDC program, IBEW experts give students an in-depth look at how their jobs are done. FPL also provides equipment so students work with real-world instruments, White said.
Since the program began in 2006, 94 graduates – 70 MDC students and 24 FPL employees – have been hired or advanced by the utility.
The partnership “really gives us support for the development of our workforce,” O’Hare said. “They’re doing a great job for us here at the plant.”
FPL gets well-trained workers with strong ties to the community, and the students get great jobs, he said.
— Staff Report
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