A recently released video from the FutureMakers Coalition tells the story of a Southwest Florida resident whose decision to switch from traditional to technical college prepared him for a satisfying career.

20-year-old Alex “Ander” Hernandez was once enrolled in a civil engineering program at a local university, but soon realized carpentry was his true calling when he found himself more concerned about his woodworking projects than schoolwork.

Ander eventually transferred to Fort Myers Technical College (FMTC) to pursue a certification in carpentry and building construction technology.

FMTC and other technical colleges in Southwest Florida offer “career in a year” certification programs for in-demand jobs in carpentry, healthcare, technology, electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) and other well-paying skilled trades. These programs allow students to earn an industry certification at minimal cost and often with job opportunities lined up before graduation.

During his time at FMTC, Ander won first place in regional and state in SkillsUSA competitions and earned a bronze medal at the national level against 70 others.

“Ander is a great example of a student who understood just how valuable technical college education is and the vast opportunities available to certified employees in our workforce,” said Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. “All too often, schools and parents have a tendency to steer students to four-year degrees. Technical diplomas are just as essential to create a thriving regional economy.”

Ander completed his certification requirements in September for the National Center for Construction Education and Research 13 months after entering FMTC’s program. Despite multiple enticing job offers, he has decided to stay in Hendry County and serve the community he grew up in.


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