South Texas College and Texas Workforce Commission celebrate Construction Superintendent Apprentices
WESLACO, Texas - South Texas College celebrated its first cohort of graduates from its Construction Superintendent Apprenticeship Program at a special ceremony where each graduate received certificates of apprenticeships from the U.S. Department of Labor.
STC President Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D. joined STC board trustee Danny Guzman, Texas Workforce Commissioner of Labor Julian Alvarez, Workforce Development Apprenticeship Director Desiree Holmes and Noble Charities Foundation Director Christine Blouch to honor the graduates.
“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.”
STC is a state leader in apprenticeships and workforce development. TWC has invested tens of thousands of dollars into creating apprenticeship programs at STC that will give students paid, on-the-job training to learn a skilled occupation along with classroom instruction and guidance from mentors while earning industry-recognized credentials in the field.
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, who is a big proponent of apprenticeship programs, told graduates at the ceremony. “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.”
Luis Lucio graduated from STC as an apprentice construction superintendent with Noble Texas Builders. Lucio says he has been employed by Noble for the last six years as a corporate client group superintendent overseeing construction by large companies and decided on taking the apprenticeship program to fulfill personal growth.
“I am planning to take these skills and helping my team and projects grow as I begin to implement a better workflow on the job that will assist both the company and our clients,” Lucio said. “I think I speak for a lot of the students here when I say that a lot of our training has been on-the-job and we have learned from others, but this program has really helped refine us by putting that textbook element to it. I have learned from people who have been in this industry for over 40 years and now we can help teach other.”
According to a statement by Texas Gov. Greg Abbot, more than 21,500 active participants in Texas are currently enrolled in over 650 registered apprenticeship programs, which boast an apprentice completion rate of over 80 percent.
Referencing South Texas College, Abbot said its apprenticeship programs provide “industry-driven, customized training that empowers Texas employers to fill any skills gaps in their markets while developing their own future workforce.”
Employers investing in apprenticeship programs experience improved recruitment and reduced turnover, and they gain a pipeline of skilled employees and future managers, Abbot said.
“Many of these students already have high positions with their respective construction companies where they work, but they never had the credentials to back them up,” said Kim Moore, apprenticeship navigator at South Texas College. “Now through our partnership with Texas Workforce Commission, they have been able to provide funds that allow students to go through this program, a hybrid program that is 50% in-person and 50% online that has been hugely successful and have all of their materials paid for. These are real people who have families, who have jobs and who have been affected in a tremendously positive way.”
Rounding out a significant day for STC at the same event, Alvarez also formalized an Apprenticeship Texas Expansion Grant to STC in the amount of $593,934 that will fund 297 new apprentices, the largest expansion of apprenticeships ever funded by a single grant to the college.
The new apprentices will stem from the creation of seven new registered apprenticeships, the creation of two new pre-apprenticeship programs, as well as the expansion of six registered apprenticeships this fall.
TWC 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, according to STC Dean of Industry Training Carlos Margo, Ph.D.
“This is for expanding programs that already exist and will allow for several cohorts of new students coming through these same programs,” Margo said. “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.”
To learn more about STC’s apprenticeships programs go to www.southtexascollege.edu/cpit/courses/industry/apprenticeships/.