By: David Ramos, Training Specialist for South Texas College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing
Millions of laid-off workers across the United States are being forced to make tough decisions about their futures – continue to wait for the right job to come along, settle for something they don’t want or find a new career path. But, in the Rio South Texas Region, many displaced workers have benefited from the foresight and opportunity afforded by South Texas College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing. They trained while on the job and salvaged their futures by expanding their skill sets in the calm before the storm.
“Skills training should be a continual process, not a one-time opportunity,” said STC IAM Regional Manager Carlos Margo. “At STC we are always focused on setting up new trainings to expand the skill sets of current employees so that they can remain relevant in an ever-changing, fast-paced workforce.”
With Texas being one of the largest manufacturing workforces, STC has played a vital role in training, and retraining, its skilled workers to help make the region less vulnerable to future downturns in the economy.
Miguel Cisneros, a former employee of Springs Global, was laid off in 2009, a direct result of the global economic crisis. During his employment at Spring’s Global, Miguel took advantage of the skills development fund offered by STC’s IAM and enrolled in Six Sigma Black Belt and APICS courses. With his newly acquired skills, Miguel was immediately able to secure a new job with ALPS Automotive as a process engineer.
“Returning to school was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” said Cisneros. “By learning Six Sigma and APICS, I was able to get a job with ALPS almost immediately after I was let go at Springs. Although it was hard work at the time to take on the extra trainings, it has been my saving grace.”
Mario Olvera a former employee of Progressive Molded Products (PMP) was also affected by company downsizing and was laid off in 2008. PMP was an automotive supplier and a skills development partner that closed in 2008 due to the global economic crisis.
“I was definitely worried that I was not going to be able to find a job, but Humanetics noticed I have been taking courses to improve myself at STC and I believe that gave me the edge I needed to get hired,” Olvera explained.
More than 300 employees were laid off from PMP alongside Mario, but he is one of the many success stories from the situation – a direct result of taking courses under the Skills Development Fund at STC. His added skills helped him find employment working as a quality manager at Humanetics.
“We all need to remember that as business evolves, so should we as workers and so we need to continue to train workers with the right skills to keep pace with the increasingly technical demands of the productivity-oriented manufacturing sector,” said Margo. “By creating more pathways and aligning education with industry-recognized skills credentials, STC can create the kind of manufacturing workforce that will facilitate ever-needed product process innovations in an evolving global business climate.”
The region’s workforce is becoming more highly-skilled as manufacturing has evolved into a more technology-intensive sector. Furthermore, the general education level of the manufacturing workforce has continued to improve in the past two years due to STC and its partnership efforts.
“STC values high-quality education with its community as a driver of economic prosperity,” added Margo.
STC’s IAM has created courses that allow older students to update their math, communication, computers, and trades skills, and also offers highly-specialized training so students like Miguel and Mario can remain marketable in a competitive workforce. The institute is proud to report that it had its highest-ever enrollment in 2009 and continues to push for more funding to meet the needs of its future students and keep the region highly competitive in the global market.
To find out more about STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing call 956-872-6222 or visit http://Manufacturing.SouthTexasCollege.Edu.