$1.5 million grant to support training for Valley workers
Posted: 01/13/1999
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EDINBURG - Employees from more than 13 small companies from across the Rio Grande Valley and the South Texas coastal bend area began sharpening their business skills Tuesday (Jan. 12) as they began a six-month Smart Jobs training session held at The University of Texas-Pan American.

The training is being conducted under a $1.5 million Smart Jobs grant to UTPA from the Texas Department of Economic Development to train workers for 675 new or existing jobs in the Rio Grande Valley.

"This training offers the skills needed in order for these companies to have a successful business," said James Gaffney, director of the Industrial Partnership Center under UTPA's Office of Center Operations and Community Services. "Nowhere in Texas is the need for workforce development more critical than in the Rio Grande Valley."

The Smart Jobs Fund grant was awarded to the Quality Improvement Training Consortium, a program under the Corporate Training Center of the university's Center for Continuing Education. The program's goal is to provide ISO 9000 quality system training and implementation to 75 South Texas companies with fewer than 100 employees with an expected outcome that the companies in the consortium will have higher skilled employees and will generate more business.

Lloyd Burnett, general manager for TECHStyles Inc. in McAllen, who is attending the training sessions, said his company does business in Europe where ISO 9000 training is highly valued.

"We sell our goods world wide," Burnett said. "ISO 9000 training means a lot to our clients in Europe, where our sales are not as good as in the U.S. The sooner we are ISO 9000 qualified the better off we will be."

ISO 9000 is an international quality standard. ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, whose 110 member countries create and revise quality and environmental standards for use throughout the world. The standards apply to a company's quality management system, not its product, and so can be applied to every company whether in the manufacturing or service sector.

More than 80 countries, including the U.S., the European Union members and many of the Pacific Rim countries, have adopted ISO 9000 as a global quality standard. Compaies demonstrate compliance to the standards by undergoing a certification process.