Texas Border Business
By Amanda Sotelo
South Texas College has become a national leader in workforce training and apprenticeships, a designation highlighted during the college’s 2nd annual Workforce Summit.
Workforce leaders and educators from across the state recently gathered at the STC Student Union Ballroom to discuss and gain an understanding of how STC is impacting the region and its workforce.
The event, with nearly 200 workforce leaders and professionals from across the state, twice the attendees as last year, also served as a chance to engage the community and seek input on current workforce needs.
“The future of tomorrow is here today,” said STC President Ricardo J. Solis. “We are the college of the Rio Grande Valley, from Starr County to Brownsville, and we’re meeting the needs of our workforce, which is in the most critical situation right now. We’re here to accelerate the way we meet their needs, the needs of our regional platforms and economy, and to accelerate transformation not only in the Valley, but all South Texas.”
To further discuss this transformation, Joe D. May, Ph.D., Chancellor Emeritus, Dallas College; Chancellor in Residents, Educate Texas, addressed the shifts in higher education and workforce needs across the nation.
“Enrollment across the country has declined, but I’m inspired by STC because of the way they are combining education and training to strengthen the workforce and get people back into the classroom,” said May. “STC is shifting the way higher education is offered with its short-term training programs, apprenticeship programs and dual credit.”
May added that everything STC is doing is having positive implications on students, employers and regional economies.
“The way we see higher education is changing before our eyes and by operating together we’ll be able to meet the needs of all,” he said.
To highlight STC’s successes in the arena, STC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Economic Development Rodney Rodriguez, Ph.D. introduced the customized training and occupational skills award options and apprenticeships that STC offers.
Apprenticeships are an earn-while-you-learn model, and STC partners with local businesses and industry to provide community members with opportunities for on-the-job training while learning valuable skills toward an industry certification and receiving a stipend or wage.
STC offers 12 apprenticeship programs such as Construction, including an up-and-coming Registered Nurse Apprenticeship, which will be the first in the state; continuing, professional and workforce education and microcredential, or short-term programs, in the areas of business, computer and information technology, health sciences, public safety and technology.
“With the governance of our Board of Trustees and our fearless leader President Solis, we are at the forefront of meeting workforce needs,” said Rodriguez. “This is evident in what we offer and our vision for the future. This leadership is valuable for us to move forward…this is important not only for STC, but for the entire RGV and United States.”
Rodriguez also announced a new STC Apprenticeship Center, that will be introduced in the coming months and led by the college’s current Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Project Training Specialist Kimberly Moore.
The day-long summit also included updates from the region’s Economic Development Corporation, demographic trends and characteristics and licensures and certifications.
Former Texas Workforce Commission Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez, now senior vice president and director of Business Development for Lone Star National Bank, was a strong proponent of apprenticeships and workforce development, and praised STC’s successes in the areas during his address as a panel participant at the summit.
“STC is moving our economies forward as they continue to lead in the areas of apprenticeships and workforce training,” said Alvarez. “The key to this success is the creation of collaborations and partnerships to provide new and innovative programs for the communities it serves. It’s events like this Workforce Summit, that increases awareness on these opportunities, and because STC is a national model for such programs, it’s only natural that it would leading these discussions.”
STC Trustee Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar said she is proud to be a part of the transformation that STC is creating locally and globally.
“STC is leading change and positively impacting how our communities approach higher education,” she said. “There is more to higher education, than a four-year degree, which may not be for everyone. At STC, though, we’re providing opportunities that lead to great-paying careers through innovative programming, and we have great partners that are helping us move into new eras. I’m so honored to be a part of these initiatives; and in the words of Dr. Solis, ‘We don’t want to passively inherit our future, we want to actively create it.’”
For more information on the customized Workforce Training and Apprenticeships offered through STC’s Continuing, Professional and Industry Training department visit, https://www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/.