Tech programs in Fort Bend County help meet demand for local jobs


More students entering the workforce faster could help meet the demand for technical and business jobs in Fort Bend County over the next 10 years.

These include positions such as computer and information systems security, technicians, mechanics, and engineering-related fields – skills that don’t require as much time or money to acquire, and offer starting salaries of around $ 50,000, according to educators.

A study by the Perryman Group found that approximately 1,200 new workers with engineering and related skills would be required each year to fill positions at Fort Bend.

A shortage of people with this skill set is due to the fact that students prefer to attend four-year institutions rather than enter what Randall Wooten calls intermediate skills – technical fields, associate degrees and certificates.

“This is where the majority of good job openings are,” said Wooten, who is vice chancellor, chief executive and executive project manager for Texas State Technical College-Fort Bend.

Students in Sugar Land and Missouri City interested in technical and business careers don’t have to go far to find programs. Within a 30-minute drive are several institutions of higher learning, including a campus that is home to both the University of Houston-Sugar Land and Wharton County Junior College, the Houston Community College campuses in Missouri City, and Stafford, TX State Technical College-Fort Bend and Fort The new James Reese Technical and Career Center at Bend ISD.

These institutions offer different pathways to the labor market, including a four-year degree or a technical degree or a certification that requires shorter and cheaper training, which are aimed at helping students get a return on their investment and produce graduates that employers in the region want to hire. .

“We are looking for ways to integrate our students into the workforce and we will make a difference,” said Anthony Ambler, Dean of UH College of Technology.

According to the Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, some graduates can earn around $ 40,000 in their first year in half the time it takes to earn a four-year degree.

Additionally, educators at all Fort Bend County institutions said their students typically find employment within six months, some even faster than that. For example, students who learn to be line workers at TSTC – a one-year, three-semester certificate program – receive job offers starting at $ 60,000, Wooten said.

Rene Escobar said his attendance at Texas State Technical College-Fort Bend helped him improve his skills in diesel equipment technology and where he can use them.

“I can go into a lot of different fields, such as agriculture, trucking, generators, oil rigs, and the railroad,” Escobar said. “My options are much more open.”

He said TSTC is preparing him for a good job as well. When he graduates from an associate this summer, he has the option of starting at $ 60,000 per year.

While students can graduate with a job, some also leave school with debt. About 55% of students will graduate from an institution in Texas with an average debt of $ 27,000, according to LendEDU, a website that compares financial products, including student loans.

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, students who graduate from technical programs can walk away with debt of $ 8,000 to $ 20,000, compared to over $ 30,000 in debt from four-year institutions such as the University of Texas or the United States. Texas A&M University.

“Student debt is tied to the completion of post-secondary education, so we are always looking for ways to educate students on financial aid applications,” said Kristen Kramer, assistant deputy commissioner for preparation and college success at THECB, community college board in March.

At UH-Sugar Land, a new College of Technology building is under construction on campus and will be completed in time for the Fall 2019 semester. Dean Anthony Ambler said the school will support the needs of the tech industry. and produce graduates in sought-after disciplines including biotechnology, computer engineering technology, computer information systems and digital media.

“Sugar Land is a great opportunity because engineering is one of Fort Bend’s main industries,” Ambler said. “What we find among employers is that they prefer graduates to have more industrial or commercial experience and even be aware of management issues. We produce people who are ready for a career.

Fort Bend ISD also offers new opportunities, as more and more students opt for a faster path to certification or a degree. The number of graduates choosing a two-year institution fell from 23% in 2014 to 25% in 2016, depending on the district. During the same period, 44% enrolled in a four-year institution, up from 50% in 2014.

The district expects to serve 2,000 students per day at the James Reese Career and Technical Center, scheduled to open this fall, taking courses in audio-visual technology, automotive technology, information technology and engineering.

“We’re more innovative here with business and business-to-business partnerships that are different from what other districts do,” said FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre.

Students in the program can also take dual credit courses through higher education partners including Texas State Technical College, Houston Community College, University of Houston, and University of Houston-Downtown.

To meet the needs of local employers, colleges work with employers through advisory committees and use this information to develop programs for their students.

“The information we get on what employers expect is crucial as we are no longer in the workforce,” said Carol Derkowski, president of the Wharton County Junior College’s division for allied health. “We need this information to help us prepare students so they can get their jobs.”

HCC is also partnering with area manufacturing employers on an apprenticeship program at its Stafford campus, said Southwest President Madeline Burillo-Hopkins.

Students get national diplomas and the employer recruits an apprentice who constantly improves his knowledge, skills and competences, she said.

An Le, head of extrusion at Accredo Packaging Inc. in Sugar Land, said Accredo wants to partner with a local school on a technical program to teach the skills Accredo needs to operate. machines used to create packaging for food and consumer products.

Most of the training is done on the job, but it takes about three years to learn how to use the machines they use, he said.

“The kind of skills we’re looking for aren’t taught in schools, so it’s hard to get people interested in these jobs because they don’t know they exist,” Le said. “Once our employees learn to use these machines, they can go anywhere in the United States for a job. “


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