Career Technical Education 

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South Texas College and workforce training go hand-in-hand. For decades, Rio Grande Valley business leaders and hiring managers have counted on the college to train and educate well-prepared workers to fill positions and grow companies.

Career Technical Education (CTE) programs at STC are the backbone of technical training. CTE covers numerous disciplines from HVAC and welding to network specialist and electrician training — and many more.

Someone who knows this to be true is Sarah Hammond, owner of Atlas Electrical, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Plumbing Services Inc.

Her company utilizes a Texas Workforce Commission program to help fund the schooling of certain students to either complete or further their education.

“We are always looking at students from STC to work with,” Hammond said. “The young students have a lot more technical trade. They have their hands in it already. They’re understanding the concepts of how the components work together. It’s really important to learn power systems, electrical currents, and safety procedures, and that’s what they learn at STC.”

Hammond said the average age of HVAC technicians, electricians, and plumbers can skew toward 40 and 50 years old, something she says needs to be addressed by young people joining technical trades. She is pleased that STC continues to produce students ready to fill important gaps not just at her company but in society at large.

“There’s a lack of workforce — technical trades have an even larger gap than other industries,” Hammond said. “There’s a whole workforce of young individuals that we need to join the technical trades and to help us continue with these jobs.”

Jorge Hernadez is a current student at South Texas College studying HVAC.

“What CTE means to me is learning what I can to benefit me in my career through technology and education,” Hernandez said. “It’s what will benefit me in my career in the future as I continue learning.”

He is considering a program that will help with job placement and hands-on training from potential employers.

“I’m looking into the registered apprenticeship program to understand different opportunities,” Hernandez said. “I’m grateful it’s one of our classes to really help make sure we end up with a job.”

The program matches students with a company to work in the field. Many of the students are offered a job if the fit between employer and employee is right.

One of STC’s instructors, Eliseo Garza, is a big part of the success STC has had, providing valuable training for future CTE workers.

“We give the best experiences we can give here, real-world experience,” Garza said. “But there is more than just doing the work or following along with what other people tell you. We push the education a little further, and you can go further, possibly be your own boss.”

He encouraged any potential students with a strong work ethic to consider enrolling and making a positive career shift or career boost. He even mentioned the ability for students who speak English as a second language to thrive in the program and in the bilingual workforce region.

“As long as you’re willing to learn and you’re willing to work,” Garza said. “Regardless of where you come from, by the time you graduate, if you’re doing well, you’ll get work. There are jobs out there.”

Nathaniel Mata