While many new high-school graduates were pondering the possibilities of their futures at the beginning of the summer earlier this year, four recent graduates from Eau Gallie High School’s (EGHS) Aviation Assembly and Fabrication Program knew exactly what they were going to do—start careers in advanced manufacturing working on state-of-the-art aircraft while earning great wages and benefits. Embraer, which manufactures several lines of executive jets in Melbourne, snatched up the candidates who are products of one of Brevard Public Schools’ career and technical education (CTE) choices.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, production jobs are still very much in-demand for the Space Coast’s best-in-state manufacturing sector, which offers wages 21% higher than the national average. For instance, since 2008, Embraer has expanded and added new products to its line at the Melbourne facility and added another location in Titusville. The company currently employs more than 800 in Brevard County and is hiring. The company recently announced the Phenom 300MED aircraft, which can be used for medivac operations, will be produced in Melbourne.

“With all the uncertainty in the world, to have a manufacturer the quality of Embraer find a rich talent pipeline in our local schools bodes well for the future of Brevard County’s economy,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast (EDC), which helped launch the EGHS aviation program and secured its first teaching aircraft. “During the last decade, we’ve strategically cultivated a state-leading core of manufacturing employers with high-wage jobs, like Embraer, who are helping us weather the COVID-19 downturn.”

“In 2008, Embraer selected the Space Coast as the U.S. home of Embraer Executive Jets for several reasons, including the highly-skilled local workforce. Since then, we have been able to expand our presence here, thanks to the support of local work- force development initiatives, such as the EGHS Aviation Assembly and Fabrication Program. We are delighted to have four recent graduates join the Embraer family to assemble the most disruptive and technologically advanced aircraft in the business aviation industry,” said Kirsten Patchett, vice president of human resources for Embraer North America.


Career and technical training, like that offered by EGHS, or the EDC’s Certified Production Technician (CPT) Program offered in partnership with Eastern Florida State College can help students hit the ground running with manufacturing careers.

“During my last summer in the EGHS Aviation Assembly and Fabrication Program, I completed an internship at Embraer, where I was excited to apply, first-hand, what I was learn- ing in school,” said Kiaralys Alva, interiors technician at Embraer. “Upon graduation, thanks to the program, I already had a full-time position lined up at Embraer. I now get to do what I love, with the confidence that comes from the training and mentoring of world-class aviation professionals.”

“By being responsive to industry in our own backyard, we can equip Brevard County students with in-demand skills to not only get them jobs, but careers, “said Matt Susin, EDC executive committee member and vice chairman of the School Board of Brevard County School Districts. “Congratulations to these new EGHS graduates and Embraer for recognizing that it is possible to earn a paycheck and learn a profession without going into student loan debt.”

To explore career options with Embraer, go to To apply for the 10-week online CPT program, for which scholarships are available, go to


Perhaps not so surprising, another industry hiring during the pandemic is healthcare. “By 2030, there will be a predicted shortage of 150,000 healthcare workers in the U.S.,” said Weatherman.

“The need to recruit, train and foster upcoming talent in this critical field is essential now more than ever, and I want to thank EDC investor Sutton Properties for stepping up to meet the challenge.”

In August, the EDC secured a health care training grant of $25,000 from Sutton Properties of Melbourne for the Macedonia Education Technology and Career Academy program (METCA) of the Elderly Compassionate Care Program of Brevard County. METCA is housed under the Macedonia Community Development Corporation of South Brevard, a nonprofit 501C (3) managed by the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

Established in 2017, this program assists lower-income and minority health care students of the Space Coast with obtaining scholarships for career training in Home Health aide (HHA), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN), LPN transition to Registered Nurse (RN) and Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) programs. In addition, METCA provides enrollment preparatory courses, mentoring and supportive resources to scholarship students to ensure their successful completion of training and eventual job placement.

“METCA, Elderly Compassionate Care Program is designed to help disadvantaged men and women navigate the pathway to becoming healthcare professionals. We primarily assist qualified student candidates with accessing scholarship funding, which is often their biggest barrier, and provide pre-enrollment tools to help make them competitive,” said founder and executive director of METCA, Teri Jones.

“We need more health care professionals to care for our Brevard County residents, and the funding support begins with donors. We are grateful to those who choose to become a partner and or donor, because you are the foundation for the success of METCA.”

LPN graduate Adale VanPelt is partic- ularly grateful for the assistance.

“The METCA program that Teri Jones coordinated allowed me to further my education and help my family. It gave me the skills to be successful in life and something to be proud of. Not only did METCA give me those skills, but it also gave me a means in which to obtain those skills. I would not have been able to afford college if METCA did not come through and taken a chance on my desire to help people,” she said.

Another student, LPN graduate Cassandra Jackson echoed similar sentiments.

“My goal was to be a nurse for a long time, but financially it was not possible to pursue that career. METCA provided me with the opportunity to fulfill my goals by assisting me with paying for my testing and schooling. My life has been greatly improved financially and economically.”

To learn more about METCA, visit

Brian Baluta
Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast