MCALLEN, RGV – Jobs of the Future and how the Rio Grande Valley prepares students and the public generally for them is the focus of the 2018 Bi-National INNO Conference at South Texas College.

The conference, now in its sixth year, takes place this Friday, Sept. 28, at STC’s Pecan Campus in McAllen, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Daniel P. King

The two keynote speakers who will discuss tomorrow’s job market are PSJA ISD Superintendent Daniel P. King and Workforce Solutions Cameron Executive Director Pat Hobbs. King’s theme is “Education and Workforce Development Vital to the Texas Economy. Hobbs’ theme is “Developing the Workforce Today – Soft Skills and Technology.”

Economics professor Kevin Peek said the INNO Conference is all about innovation.

“Every year we look at a different type of innovation. Two years ago, for example, we focused on information technology. Last year, we looked at innovation in transportation,” said Peek, who will serve as master of ceremonies.

“This year we will be focusing on Jobs of the Future. What are the Jobs for Future and how can we prepare our students as well as the general public for those jobs? This information is highly significant and will benefit employers considering how to structure their hiring requirements, students who are preparing to enter the labor force, and the general public.”

Blake Hastings

The conference is bi-national because it is a joint collaboration between STC and the Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores in Reynosa. IIES will host an INNO event on Saturday, Sept. 29. 

Lic. Juan Rosendo Martinez, president and founder of IIES, will give the welcome and introductory remarks on Friday, between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., along with STC President Shirley A. Reed and STC’s Dean of Business, Public Safety and Technology, Mario Reyna. 

From 9 to 9:45 a.m., Blake Hastings, senior vice president with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, will make a presentation titled “Economic Outlook – Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.” Hastings oversees Human Resources functions at all Dallas Fed offices, including talent management, benefits and compensation, and diversity and inclusion. He also has oversight for the San Antonio Branch and is responsible for all Dallas Fed activities within Central and South Texas, including operating and administrative functions, and outreach activities to banks, businesses and community-based organizations.

From 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., Dr. Rosemund Moore will oversee Guided Roundtable Discussions.

King’s presentation starts at 10:45 a.m., and Hobbs’ starts at 11:30 a.m.

After lunch a panel of economic development and business experts will discuss what is happening in their communities. The panel will consist of Marie McDermott of Weslaco EDC, Victor Perez of Pharr EDC, Joey Treviño of Edinburg EDC, Sergio Contreras of the RGV Partnership, and consultant Ramiro Garza.

STC’s Reyna will make closing remarks at around 1:30 p.m.

STC’s website says this about the INNO Conference:

“The emergence of a new and dynamic economy, fueled largely by technological innovation, globalization, and shifting commercial relations, has led entities in both the public and private sectors to redefine the characteristics they seek in a modern workforce. More and more, employers are prioritizing the ability to understand and apply new technology, adapt to different work environments, and exhibit proficiency in the ever-important area of soft skills. As has always been the case, regions that provide a workforce with the skills demanded by employers will prosper, while others will be left behind.

“As leading regional institutions of higher learning, South Texas College and El Instituto de Estudios Superiores are collaborating in hosting the 6th Annual Conference on Innovation, where we will explore the skills needed to make our students more competitive in the modern labor market and how to attract businesses seeking these skills. Please join us to share your input on these topics with experts from both the public and private sectors. In addition to the presentations, the agenda will include guided round-table discussions and a speaker panel to capture viewpoints from all attendees. Audience participation will be encouraged and the Conference is open to the general public.”

The cost of attending the conference is $20 for the general public and $5 for students.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows Pat Hobbs, executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron.