UPDATE: After this story was published, a public relations official affiliated with AmSkills said that the group currently offers mobile bootcamps to local communities in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties.
PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — David Yocum has a favorite saying when it comes to teaching about career and technical material — Through an education, you’re not always guaranteed experience. But yet through experience, you’re guaranteed an education.
What You Need To Know
- The “Build Back Better” bill passed by the U.S. House last week includes $600 million for grants through 2027 for Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing more than $500 million to support workforce education programs in his proposed FY 2022 budget
- David Yocum says he’s bringing some of his experience into the classroom to create the first advanced manufacturing program available to students at Anclote High in Holiday
After years of working in the manufacturing industry building military and commercial flight simulators, Yocum brought his talents in 2020 to Anclote High School in Holiday, where he teaches an advanced manufacturing class to freshmen and sophomores.
“It’s great,” he says. “Going from aviation training pilots and military personnel to high school students is an exciting thing to say the least.”
Students operate virtual reality equipment in his class to simulate welding, soldering and other manufacturing skills. He says that some of the systems in place are similar to the video games which many of his students engage in.
“They’re already geared to play the games and they’re interested in it. So it’s almost like second nature," he says.
Yocum finds the work rewarding.
“When you see that ‘a-ha’ moment, or you take a pile of computer parts that a kid never saw in his life and was able to put it together piece by piece understanding the components. And then it works? He feels value. That’s really kind of why I’m here.”
A Pennsylvania native, Yocum started his career as a mechanic at a flight school. He then began working with a company that built military hardware for deployment, where he helped fabricate Humvee and helicopter simulators. He later worked at Aeronautical Systems Engineering, where he visited Afghanistan on four separate occasions building military and commercial simulators for the U.S. military to provide training.
Yocum says it dawned on him a few years ago that he wanted to take the training he learned throughout his career and teach at the high school level "to provide that experience and education through the experience that I had to show them some really neat things."
Included inside the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better bill passed on Friday by the House of Representatives includes $600 million for grants through FY 2027 for CTE programs.
He’s now at AmSkills, a nonprofit which provides workforce training and apprenticeships for the manufacturing industry in the Tampa Bay area. The nonprofit is now building a 15,000 foot training/innovation center in Holiday, which when completed will offer a two-week bootcamp session that will include skills to build a resume and interview in front of manufacturers in the Tampa Bay area.