STC holds first ever Apprenticeship Roundtable

South Texas College held its first apprenticeship roundtable dedicated to uniting partners in higher education institutions, industry and public schools in order to address the lack of skilled workers in the region.

The event held in October brought together leaders from the education community, as well as local employers and workforce development staff to engage in dialog about apprenticeship programs, as well as initiating new plans for programs in the future.

Speakers included Troy Johnson, Apprenticeship and Training Representative from the U.S. Department of Labor; and Desi Holmes, Apprenticeship Director with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

“We are very interested in this topic, learning more and sharing in these experiences,” said STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed in her welcoming address to attendees. “It’s also about doing some envisioning about the possibilities. I think they are quite substantial if we can all work together.”

This roundtable was STC’s first. The affair gave employers the opportunity to collaborate with college staff who have held apprenticeships in the past. The event was also in response to a strong push at the federal level to expand apprenticeship opportunities, which have to involve employers.

An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training (OJT) and related classroom instruction under the supervision of a trade professional.

The Apprenticeship Roundtable consisted of panel members experienced with apprenticeship programs who shared insights and information about funding opportunities to further support apprenticeship programs. Attendees also spent time discussing the possibility of initiating new programs in the future.

Panel members included Olivier Arriaga, a tool and die journeyman and former operations supervisor at Southwest AMT; David Girault, entrepreneur in residence at Trinity University & Partner – B2B CFO; John Hershey, Community Engagement Director for Workforce Solutions; David Martinez, industrial maintenance journeyman and maintenance manager at Royal Technologies; and Carlos Margo, Associate Dean for Industry Training and Economic Development at South Texas College.

“This is something we are committed to at South Texas College, and we have a commitment to proceed and continue,” Margo said. “We are excited to learn about the latest and greatest with regards to apprenticeship training.”

“We go way back on apprenticeship programs,” Johnson told attendees regarding the Department of Labor’s partnership with STC. “In the beginning, some of the businesses wanted to focus more on customized training, and that was something that really rang throughout the Department of Labor. Even though it wasn’t something unique to the Valley, it is unique in different states and throughout industry.”

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