MCALLEN, RGV – State Representative Eddie Lucio III is adding technical education to his legislative agenda.

Every other year, from January to May, the Texas Legislature meets at the state capitol in Austin. According to the Texas House of Representatives’ website, the legislature considers proposed laws and resolutions as well as the appropriation of all funds for the operation of state government.

The 85th Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 10, 2017 and adjourns May 29, 2017.

Lucio, the representative for Texas House District 38, said he’s spent half of his legislative career focusing on water issues. For six years, Lucio has become well-known for working to ensure the water future in Texas for businesses, municipal governments and a general public highly dependent on water.

Come Jan. 2017, Lucio will be adding technical education to his agenda. At a RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce luncheon that focused on the upcoming legislative session, Lucio shared statistics regarding education in the Rio Grande Valley. He said 56 percent of high school graduates in the RGV start a post-secondary education and only 18 percent of all high school graduates will earn a degree, license or certificate. Juxtapose this with the fact that nearly 80 percent of new jobs in the work force require some sort of certification.

“We have amazing progress with higher education in the Rio Grande Valley,” Lucio said. “UTRGV [University of Texas Rio Grande Valley] is a blessing. It is making a tremendous impact on our region, but there is another critical space that we need to fill and that is [the] technical workforce space.”

Lucio said Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance has a pilot program of ten high school students that will be trained as nurses. Once they graduate, the students will be licensed nurses that can go straight into the labor force. This program is the only one of its kind in the nation.

“If all ten pass, that’s going to send a message to the (Texas) Higher Education Coordinating Board and [to] the rest of the state that we can establish programs like this in high school.”

Furthermore, Lucio would like to give more access to dual credit programs as well as technical early college high schools so students can graduate with certification in areas such as programming, maintenance or robotics.

Lucio said UTRGV can fill the Valley’s engineering labor force requirements and South Texas College, Texas State Technical College and Texas Southmost College can open doors for manufacturing jobs.

“We have an opportunity because of our location with ports nearby, with infrastructure going north and south, with plentiful water and plentiful power generation to become a world class manufacturing hub,” Lucio said.