Students in Texas City are now gaining skilled craft experience and soon will be able to graduate from high school with both a diploma and trade certificates in hand – the result of enrolling in the Texas City school district’s new Industrial Trades Center (ITC), partially funded by MPC.
The 30,000-square-foot center, located across the street from Texas City High School, offers 11th- and 12th-grade students the opportunity to learn trades such as welding, pipefitting, instrumentation and electrical, machinist, construction, and maritime. Students can also earn certifications on heavy equipment simulators including mobile crane, excavator, bulldozer and forklift. Those practical skills will enable them to start a career right out of high school.
The concept of the ITC was enthusiastically received by the community and industry when the idea was introduced about three years ago. The idea gained momentum, and industry and community partners pledged more than $750,000 toward start-up costs and equipment. In addition to an initial financial contribution, MPC recently donated a crane and forklift to the center.
The Texas City school district currently has 70 percent of its students classified as economically disadvantaged. School Superintendent Cynthia Lusignolo hopes that number will decrease as students garner well-paid jobs.
“By launching our high school graduates into the lucrative trades, we will be assisting them in providing for the future financial needs of their families. Then, when their children enter our school district, they will not be living in poverty,” said Lusignolo, who has spearheaded the construction of the ITC along with the school board.
An additional $170,000 per year has been pledged from local partners for maintenance and operations through a “pennies per man hour” program in which MPC is participating. Other opportunities will include apprenticeships, job shadowing and student sponsorships. As space is available, students from surrounding school districts will also be able to enroll in the ITC.
An ITC Advisory Council meets monthly to help lay the foundation for a successful center. Headed by Galveston Bay Refinery General Manager Rich Hernandez, the group has taken the lead in finding ways to fund start-up costs as well as finding sources for ongoing operating costs.
“We are blessed to live in an area with exciting job opportunities for craft workers with the right skill sets,” says Hernandez. “The ITC will help graduates start on a path to developing the skills needed to pursue these careers.”
The ITC features 3,000-square-foot educational shops for each of the six industrial trades being taught. ITC students will also learn soft skills such as how to work as part of a team, communicate effectively, make professional presentations and use effective employee management skills to help prepare them to become successful supervisors.
“We have promised our contractor and industry partners that our students will be drug free and well-trained in both the skilled trade and in the soft skills needed to get along well in the workforce,” adds Lusginolo. “It’s our goal to be the skilled workforce pipeline for Texas City and the greater Houston area.”
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