Grant to help get people higher paying tech jobs
A new $1 million grant is working to help area unemployed and low-income residents gain well-paying jobs with tuition-free technical training and support services.
“Almost everyone knows someone who is unemployed right now,” said Joy Weiner, a former Texas Workforce Solutions staff specialist who is a coordinator for the grant through the Alvin Community College Continuing Education Workforce Development Department (ACC CEWD). “These are the times we’re in; my grandparents went through the Great Depression and I never thought I would ever see this.”
“This (grant) is a blessing,” she continued. “This is the time to seize the moment and get training.”
The grant, issued through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and administered by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC), was made possible through the collaborative efforts of San Jacinto College, the Adult Reading Center (ARC) in Pearland, Pearland Economic Development Corporation (PEDC) and the ACC CEWD.
“It’s such a goodwill service,” Weiner stated. “People need to be able to offer employers the skills they need to help them succeed.”
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to assist our partners to create huge success stories from this,” she added.
A portion of the funding will be used to train a maximum of 68 students for careers as a licensed vocational nurse at the San Jacinto College North and South Campuses.
“Our monies will be used to help low-income, displaced or unemployed workers who meet the approval by Workforce Solutions,” San Jacinto College District Continuing and Professional Development Director of Health Occupations Mary Smith-Hill said.
“There’s a tremendous need for this type of grant,” said Dr. Sarah Janes, vice president for Continuing and Professional Development for the San Jacinto College District. “And the best way to go is through a collaborative effort just as we’re doing here.”
“Our goal is to improve the workforce that we have now and give them opportunities for a better future,” she added.
The majority of the grant will provide 80 qualifying individuals with training to become a certified Industrial Electrical Technician and/or Programmable Logic Controls Specialist through the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and ACC partnership at the Pearland Center.
“The Industrial Electrical Technician program is what local industry and people wanting to take classes have been most interest in,” TSTC Cluster Director Chuck Abshier expressed.
Once students finish the core program, they can become Programmable Logic Controls Specialists which are utilized at chemical and manufacturing plants, he said.
To qualify for free training for the TSTC program through the H-GAC grant, applicants: must make less than $10,830 per year (for one person in the household); provide proof of income; possess a high school diploma or GED; pass an ACCUPLACER test; show proof of identification for all family members in the household; and provide two references.
For each additional family member in the household, increase the family income requirement by $3,740. For example, for a two-member household the qualifying income is less than $14,570.
“If people make more than the minimum income requirement, we still encourage them to contact our office because additional financial assistance from other sources may also be available to help them,” said Dr. Patricia Hertenberger, dean of ACC CEWD and grant administrator.
A TSTC class is currently in session at the Pearland Center and applications are being accepted for the spring and summer programs. The next class is scheduled for March 22.
“My dad is a master electrician and I’m hoping this will help better my family and better my life; that’s the whole reason why I’m here,” TSTC Industrial Electrical Technician student and H-GAC grant recipient Rolando Garza, of Alvin, said.
Garza, who is married with three children, was laid off as a glazier for high-rise buildings in July 2009.
The ACC CEWD, which is coordinating the grant, is also responsible for: recruiting applicants for ESL technical training, occupational skills training and job counseling; referring applicants to Workforce Solutions for eligibility determination; and assisting students after training to find jobs and placement services.
“If you know of someone unemployed and needs skills training, this is the time to be looking at your local community college,” Weiner stated.
Additional applicants with ESL and/or Adult Basic Education needs are being referred to the ARC for assistance and instruction through the grant, as well.
According to Weiner, the grant will also help fund research through the PEDC to develop a local workforce census and analysis of wages, identify employment levels and gaps in current workforce delivery system and other pertinent data related to the workforce needs in the Pearland area.
Due to the source of the funding, applicants must be screened through Texas Workforce Solutions to determine eligibility and need for additional services and then be referred to San Jacinto College or ACC for training.
“We’re asking that people interested in the TSTC program at the Pearland Center contact us first, so we can help them with the process and in other ways,” Weiner said. “But, people can also go directly to Workforce Solutions and be referred.”
People interested in the LVN program at San Jacinto College are asked to contact Smith-Hill first, as well, so assistance in the process can be given.
For more information about TSTC training at the Pearland Center through the H-GAC grant, contact TSTC Administrative Assistant Deanna Gale at (281) 412-9482 or grant coordinator Joy Weiner at (281) 756-3907.
For more information about LVN training at the San Jacinto College South Campus through the H-GAC grant, contact Continuing and Professional Development Director of Health Occupations Mary Smith-Hill at (281) 542-2059.