DAB Community Services and Public Works Academy Bring Much-Needed Surveying Training Program to St. Pete

by | Nov 30, 2018 | Community, Education, Social Justice | 0 comments

Faye Watson, executive director of Developing and Building Community Services (DAB Community Services), is working to bring DAB Community Services’ workforce development initiative to St. Petersburg. The Social Justice Fund shared-services program is helping her spread the word to raise awareness and financing for a new Land Surveying Technician program she developed in partnership with Rohland Bryant’s Public Works Academy.

On a crisp fall morning, students are learning the applications of drone technology for land surveying from industry professionals at the new program, currently housed at Pinellas Technical College in St. Petersburg.

Faye wants to bring the program more support and resources from the industry professionals who encouraged her to begin the journey. She turned to the Social Justice Fund to help tell the program’s story and help DAB Community Services market and share its expertise in bringing an industry-driven approach to workforce development training (IDA-WDT).

Faye shared how returning to St. Petersburg after over a decade working as a corporate auditor in the northeast led her to a career in community development.

“Back in 2014, workforce development became of interest to me after watching families and seeing a relationship between unemployment — or the lack of a living wage — and poor health, education, and mental conditions. I began to understand that nothing really happened without a job.

“At the community service organization level, there’s a lot of engagement with individuals in the community and organizations in the community who want to serve.”

After working with various community organizations, Faye realized that unemployment and an inability to sustain a living wage to provide basic needs was often the ‘common thread’ that brought families and organizations together. “So, I wanted to do something to actually produce jobs,” said Faye.

She decided to seek out an industry facing an impending jobs crisis to see if DAB Community Services could help address the issue in St. Petersburg. After her brother, a former military employee who worked in the surveying industry, told her that sector was facing a severe lack of skilled employees, she decided to start there.

Research and discussion with survey industry employers and academic institutions confirmed that there was indeed a shortage and a lack of training to address it. One of the organizations she contacted was Tallahassee’s Florida Surveying and Mapping Society (FSMS). Excited about her idea, FSMS encouraged her to find an academic partner.

Faye approached Pinellas Technical College about developing and implementing a survey technician program. They directed her to Rohland Bryant of the Public Works Academy, which offers community training programs at the college.

After presenting Rohland with statistical data on the industry, he agreed that it was a viable training area, and the two moved forward on developing the program together. The first step was holding a meet-and-greet with more than 20 industry employers — including corporate providers and city and county representatives — to discuss the scope of the training necessary.

Industry professionals developed the curriculum over several weeks. Nine months after Faye first came up with the idea for the program, a pilot class would launch in November 2018.

Faye acknowledged the support of equipment manufacturer GPServe, responsible for donating the first set of instruments, and Superior Surveying Services of Tampa, which donated another set of equipment for classes.

The pilot program selected five students to receive instruction from subject matter experts from the industry.

Aidan Anderson was happy with the program so far. “I actually really enjoy it; I love being hands-on, and I know it’s a great industry. Before, I was in welding, so I’m already familiar with measurements, but it’s my first time doing anything with measuring properties.”

Tyrone Johnson Jr. said he was searching online when he saw an article featuring Rohland and the program in the news. “I wanted to give it a try because I used to do audits on the computer, but I got tired of sitting in an office. I really like being outdoors. I’m liking it; it’s keeping me focused because I’m interested in it.”

Mitchell Schauerman was also intrigued while reading about the program in the paper and says he loves the program so far. “I was in insurance since high school, so I was on the computer for about four or five years. I’m still working in that job, but the change in environment, being outdoors, really interested me; so, that’s what drew me in.”

All three students already have paid internships lined up through the program.

For more information on the Survey Technician Program and to find out what else DAB Community Services is planning for 2019, contact Faye Watson at 727-692-9570.

Social Justice Fund Supports Workforce Development

The Social Justice Fund at Pinellas Community Foundation has been a valuable resource for our community. Contact the Social Justice Fund for more information or to apply for support.