LAREDO, Texas – A half-day summit focusing on the development of apprenticeship programs in Webb County takes place in Laredo this afternoon.

The Consortium for Apprenticeship Partners in Economic Development (CAPED) is hosting the Regional Apprenticeship Summit at Texas A&M International University. Keynote speaker is Julian Alvarez, labor representative on the Texas Workforce Commission.

Julian Alvarez
Julian Alvarez

“South Texas and Border communities are looking very aggressively to attract industries to our communities but industries are looking for communities that have a trained workforce. Apprenticeship programs might just be the answer for all of us,” said Blas Castañeda, one of the organizers of the summit.

Castañeda, chair of the Texas Border Coalition’s workforce committee, will serve as master of ceremonias for the Regional Apprenticeship Summit. He said his vision and CAPED’s vision is to see the South Texas region be transformed through the implementation of apprenticeship programs in every key industry.

“My intent as Chair of the Workforce Committee for the Texas Border Coalition is to formalize a solid team at the summit and then work to establish apprenticeship programs along Texas border communities, from Brownsville to El Paso,” Castañeda said.

Sylvia Praesel, executive director of CAPED, said her group is a non-profit organization that has been set up to promote best practices in workforce strategies for talent development and retention modeled after what other states and communities are doing to bridge the skills gap. “We are an industry-led consortium of economic development, workforce, education and community leaders that seeks to unify efforts and synchronize goals for regional workforce development strategies,” Praesel said.

Praesel said the Regional Apprenticeship Conference will focus on educating the community on the key components of a registered apprenticeship, explaining the differences between an internship, an apprenticeship and a registered apprenticeship and looking in depth at the different degreed apprenticeship programs available for students. “We will also look at funding resources available for apprenticeship and training programs,” Praesel said.

Praesel said that in addition to Alvarez’s keynote address, presentations will be conducted by experts from the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as Maria Remboulis Brady, a performance and reporting specialist, and Dudley Light, Texas state director for the Office of Apprenticeships.

Laredo and Webb County elected officials are supporting the CAPED initiative and the apprenticeship summit.

“With growth on the rise in our community, job opportunities are developing in various industries. With an apprenticeship program we will not only be able to assist workers in acquiring the skills necessary to succeed but it will also facilitate us in keeping talented skilled workers in Webb County”, said Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz agreed. “As the Nation’s number one Inland Port, the City of Laredo sees value in an apprenticeship program for binational efforts, to ensure that our region is sustainable through the exchange of international business and academic institutional degrees that can work collaboratively for workforce training programs critical to the region. This will add a new dimension to the region,” Saenz said.

The Regional Apprenticeship Summit takes place in the TAMIU University Student Center Ballroom from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. For additional information contact Sylvia Praesel of CAPED at 512-988-0503 or email her at [email protected]

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows members of the Consortium for Apprenticeship Partners in Economic Development’s board of directors.