Thousands of students across Texas now have an opportunity to receive training, with access to high-tech equipment, for a career in a high-growth occupation. In April, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced the availability of $10 million in funding from the Texas Legislature for the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant program during the 2016-17 biennium.
Recently, TWC awarded 25 grants totaling nearly $5 million for the first round of funding to public community and technical colleges and independent school districts for programs that focus on supporting high-demand occupations in new emerging industries.
Qualifying educational institutions were selected among grant applicants for the development of programs or courses leading to a license, certificate or postsecondary degree for students in their communities.
“I congratulate these JET grant recipients as they work to enhance educational curricula and high-demand job training for our students,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar, who chairs the JET Advisory Board. “As they make the transition into the workforce, it is crucial that students have the education and skills to succeed in the workplace.”
The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD) was among the awardees and received almost $300,000 towards the upgrade of class equipment to meet automobile industry standards. HCISD can now offer students a new opportunity to gain relevant certifications and college credit towards an associate degree in the auto collision field.
“Our auto collision and repair courses housed at Harlingen High School are going to see major improvements with the purchase of updated equipment,” said Jessica Hruska, special projects and grants specialist with Harlingen Public Schools.
The JET grant awarded to Angelina College (AC) will allow the college to purchase new equipment to be used in welding classes for AC’s welding technology associate degree and certificate programs.
The purchase of the new equipment will allow AC to increase enrollment from 16 to 20 students per welding class on its main campus in Lufkin. The JET funds will allow 40 more students, per semester, to enroll in welding courses.
“By increasing the number of machines in the welding lab, we are able to help more students each year, and this is our goal,” said Janice Huffman, workforce development coordinator at Angelina College. “These courses are in great demand because of the need for welders in the East Texas region.”
The new equipment funded through the grant will be in place and ready for use for the spring 2017 semester. High school students in the Angeline College service area are able to earn a Level 1 Basic Certificate in Welding Technology while they attend high school. Upon graduating, those students will have the basic skills needed for entry-level employment or they can continue skills training toward an intermediate welding certificate and/or pursue an Associate of Applied Science Degree in welding.
The JET Advisory Board assists TWC in administering the grants. The six-member board meets at least once each quarter, or as needed, to review applications and make recommendations on grant awards.
“It is amazing…the quality applicants the JET program receives through its grant solicitations. School districts, community colleges and institutes of technology across our state have jumped at the opportunity to apply for these much needed funds,” said JET advisory board member Tony Fidelie. “With programs ranging from nursing, to web development to welding, countless students across Texas are going to have the opportunity to be trained for good paying, stable jobs.”
For more information on the JET Program, visit texasworkforce.org/jet.