AudioHobbs: We have a tight labor market in the RGV right now. LNG will make it tighter.

An exclusive interview with the executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron at GBIC’s Rally in the Valley 2.0.

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Pat Hobbs, executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron, gave the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service an exclusive interview about the current labor market when he appeared at Rally in the Valley 2.0.

Hobbs said the labor market is tight right now, which is why the conference, hosted by the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, was so important.

The networking event connected high school students from Brownsville ISD with prominent industry partners offering student internship opportunities. It was held at the Brownsville Events Center.

“Well, it’s promoting internships,” Hobbs said, in answer to a question about why GBIC was hosting the conference. “You know, in such a tight job market, employers are realizing that they have to become involved in the building of their workforce or there may be out of business.”

Hobbs said school districts alone cannot produce the workers industry needs with the skill sets needed. 

“So, we’re promoting internships and apprenticeships and mentorships. Anything that gets the kids involved in exposure to a work ethic. A job that they may like, they may not, but they need to experience something in the world of work, and then they can start selecting and choosing what it is they want to do for life, and then go after the education or training that’s required for that job. And then they can end up in the workforce,” Hobbs told the Guardian.

“But, there are so many employers that need so many different jobs now. They may not need a bunch of them, but they need two or three specialists and it’s just smart on the part of the employers to select a smart intern and train them the way they need them to be trained. And then when they get out of high school, you hire them and build on that and send them to school, send them to training or whatever.”

Hobbs added: “You’ve kind of got control of of your future workforce that way. Instead of just hoping that someday somebody will show up at your front door that knows what they’re doing. Not not likely to happen.”

As an example of the tight labor market, Hobbs cited SpaceX.

SpaceX may be hiring but they’re hiring orbital tube welders. Well, we don’t have orbital tube welders right now. We’re training them at (Texas) Southmost (College) right now but those are the kinds of things that didn’t exist in the past. You could walk up to an employer and the job skills that they needed 20 years ago were easy to fulfill. Today, you better have technical skills, you better have good soft skills. You better have some training under your belt above high school level or you’re not going to get a job.”

In his interview, Hobbs said the impact on the local labor market of NextDecade’s decision to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal at the Port of Brownsville has yet to felt.

“It may be a year or so before they start doing much other than site work, moving dirt. But we expected in a year and a half to two years… that’s when they start hiring the welders and the pipe fitters and all that. And, you know, we’re talking 2,000 pipe fitters. I don’t have 2000 pipe fitters, but maybe with time I can train up enough to satisfy their needs so they don’t have to bring all of them from the outside.”

Hobbs said he has yet to see the pay scale for the LNG project. However, he expects the rates to be “substantially higher” than the Valley’s normal wage rates. 

Hobbs predicted the higher wage rates will have a ripple effect across the Valley.

“It you want to stay in business, you either match that wage scale, or crumble.”

We are interested about hearing news in our community! Let us know what's happening!

Get in touch and share a story!


This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top