To assist the growing Rio Grande Valley labor force, The University of Texas-Pan American and Texas Workforce Commission are collaborating on a new innovative and interactive dual-language workforce skills courseware program called "Adelante!"
A $498,000 grant to implement the project was presented Monday, June 17 at The University of Texas-Pan American. Attendees included Diane Rath, TWC chair, and Roland S. Arriola, UTPA vice president for External Affairs.
"I think this project truly represents an innovative and collaborative solution to what we hear from employers," Rath said.
"Employers are telling us they need new workers. This portion of the state is very fortunate because we have an exploding economy with new employers, primarily manufacturers, locating here. We know those employers will be successful in the long run if they have access to a skilled, trained workforce."
The courseware is a direct response to the needs of employers, as expressed by the South Texas Manufacturing Association, for employees with entry-level workplace skills.
UTPA identified manufacturing and machining technology as appropriate job fields based on workforce needs. The University developed a program design and outlined curriculum areas, including success skills and manufacturing essentials.
The program, which runs on a DVD player through the television, is interactive and user-friendly, Arriola said. It does not require a computer or visiting a computer lab. And once finished, the individual can enter a certificate-granting program at a technical college or community college and obtain the necessary job training faster and more efficiently.
"We're establishing a national model that people throughout the nation who are involved with the workforce - particularly those trying to address the needs of Hispanics - will be able to look at and use," Arriola said. "The Texas Workforce Commission has always been on the cutting edge, and Texas has always been a leader in this area. This will take us to another level."
The Region One Education Service Center and South Texas Community College also are working in partnership with UTPA and TWC.
"This program really embodies partnerships," Arriola said. "We've been working with a lot of groups to find solutions on how we can more effectively reach out to individuals that are trying to get into the workforce and transition them in the fastest period of time so they can begin to improve their earning power."
The goal of Adelante! is to help Temporary Assistance For Needy Families Choices participants learn new skills for semiskilled manufacturing and skilled technology jobs, which will help them transition from public assistance into the workforce.
Semiskilled jobs include order picker, warehouse worker, production worker, expediter and planning clerk. Among the machining technology careers are machine operator and machinery maintenance mechanic.
"By using technology, it will allow us to reach a vast number of new folks that are not aware of this opportunity and the career ladders that can benefit them and their families long-term," Rath said. "I really want to commend all the partners who came together, as this represents a solution not only for Texas but also the whole country."
The TWC is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and the services it offers in unison with its network of local workforce development boards, call 512/463-8556 or visit www.texasworkforce.org