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The end of NASA’s space shuttle program: Where do Space Coast workers go from here?

NASA Space Shuttle Program - Florida

As our nation’s manned space shuttle program nears its final mission in July, there has been much talk about the impact that the shutdown will have on Florida’s Space Coast economy. The area, stretching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to Palm Bay, has been largely dependant on the shuttle program for its high-wage technical job base for the past 30+ years. As the program winds to a close this coming July, as many as 9,000 jobs, many of them engineering and IT based, are expected to be cut.

While much of the national focus has been on the setback for the shuttle program, because of which NASA will now have to outsource its transportation to and from the International Space Station, the larger issue for Florida remains the misplaced workers, many of whom have spent their entire career working as an employee or contractor for the space program. Though the situation looks dire on paper, as the old adage goes, “when one door closes, another one opens.” To that effect, some companies are taking advantage of the glut of experienced tech workers that are set to enter the marketplace.

As a recent Wall Street Journal article notes, there has been a flurry of investment activity spurred by Florida’s economic development budget, which was formalized by Legislature at over $43 million for the coming year in anticipation of the shuttle program’s end. Included in the budget are infrastructure improvements, aerospace directed marketing efforts, and significant tax incentives for business investment. In light of the circumstances, local employment agencies like Brevard Workforce are working with startup companies and more established firms alike to encourage and incentivize re-training and placement of highly skilled employees in the fields of aerospace, engineering, and IT.

Ryan Brandt, of the Merritt Island marketing communications firm Brandt Ronat & Co., knows first hand of the challenges that the Space Coast faces during these transitional times. His firm has works with Brevard Workforce in developing a consistent message for encouraging aerospace investment in the area. He said of the transition period; “The investment that state and local agencies are making in re-purposing our most valuable assets, our aerospace and technology workers, is tantamount to the future economic stability of the area. The shift will not happen overnight, but rather it will come through steady and focused effort from agencies, employers, and workers alike”.

The staffing specialists at Kavaliro are poised to assist with the transition from the shuttle program to other commercial ventures during these nearly unprecedented times. Uniquely qualified in the fields of technology and engineering, we have the contacts, experience, and expertise to provide the staffing solutions to fit our area’s impending employment issues. Our leadership feels a deep rooted connection to the Space Coast, and understands the emotional aspects at play just as well as the technical ones.

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