MCALLEN, Texas – In a guest column in the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Gov. Greg Abbott praised South Texas College’s efforts to promote apprenticeships and job opportunities for Rio Grande Valley residents. 

The column coincided with an STC graduation ceremony for 20 students who just completed apprenticeships and are already working in their new jobs. It was also timed to promote a two-day Texas Workforce Commission apprenticeship conference, to be held at the McAllen Convention Center. 

In his op-ed, Gov. Abbott cited the example of a lady called Norma, an Edinburg native and mother of three who moved from education administration to construction management thanks to a construction superintendent apprenticeship program offered by STC.

“While more Texans are working than ever before, I am working nonstop to expand economic opportunities for hardworking Texans like Norma so they can advance further in high-demand careers,” Abbott wrote.

“Meeting the changing needs of Texas businesses by providing a continuing pipeline of workers with the necessary skills is also paramount to ensure ongoing job growth in the Rio Grande Valley and across the state.”

Abbott said registered apprenticeships like those offered at STC provide industry-driven, customized training that empowers Texas employers to fill any skills gaps in their markets while developing their own future work force. 

“Apprenticeships expand their skills through paid on-the-job training classroom instruction, and mentorship while earning industry-recognized credentials in fields ranging from construction and manufacturing to healthcare, information security and more,” Abbott wrote.

The Apprenticeship Texas Conference takes place at the McAllen Convention Center on Sept. 23 and 23. It will feature panel discussions and information about pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship ambassadors, apprenticeship models, and industry perspectives. Panelists will include members of industry, representatives from educational institutions, and state and federal officials. 

Meanwhile, TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez was at STC’s technology campus in south McAllen to honor more than 20 graduates from the college’s Construction Superintendent Apprenticeship Program. Each graduate received certificates of apprenticeship from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The 20 apprenticeship graduates completed 144 hours of academic training as well as 2,000 hours of on-the-job-training over the course of one year in order to receive their certificates of apprenticeship.

“You all are what’s building Texas. You are building this great state of ours,” Alvarez said. “Higher ed is changing before our very eyes. Anything after high school is considered college… so when I look at a graduating class like you, I see those who are not only going to be able to provide for their family, and who knows what it’s like to do hard work, you all are our future entrepreneurs who will have your own companies someday. I can assure you of that.”

STC President Ricardo J. Solis noted that his college was celebrating its first cohort of graduates from the Construction Superintendent Apprenticeship Program.

“We are developing a new partnership. This is something that has never been done before,” Solis said. “Although apprenticeships have been around for many years, together with the leadership of the Texas Workforce Commission we are combining academics with the workforce. That is what is so unique about this program, and we believe many colleges will be following this example. We are the first to offer apprenticeship opportunities in South Texas, and we will be growing this program because families and industry both have so much to gain from it.”

Alvarez presented a $593,934 check to pay for an Apprenticeship Texas Expansion Grant at STC. It will fund 297 new apprentices, the largest expansion of apprenticeships ever funded by a single grant to the college.

Alvarez also presented STC with $119,886 as part of its Information Technology (IT) Registered Apprenticeship Expansion, which will expand existing apprenticeship programs for those students currently in careers as network specialists and future careers as research analysts and IT professionals.

“This is for expanding programs that already exist and will allow for several cohorts of new students coming through these same programs,” said STC Dean of Industry Training Carlos Margo. “Because the first were so successful, the state decided on another round of funding because we had a lot of positive feedback from students especially in Network Specialist.”

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