A state representative and local nonprofit organization are pushing to prepare students for technical careers. 

When it comes to education, the usual route is to graduate high school, head to a four-year university, get a degree and start a career. Cameron County Workforce Solutions Executive Director Patt Hobbs says there hasn’t been a push for skilled tradesmen, artisans and middle-skilled workers to fill the amount of jobs needed by the technical industry.

“It turns out that in addition to that push, the schools cut their career and technical ed programs and kind of pushed technical ed to be a second-class citizen type deal,” Hobbs said. 

Hobbs, along with State Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Brownsville), have been working on a plan to showcase the value of skilled jobs.

“That agenda for this coming session of truly appreciating where we are from a skilled workforce development standpoint,” Lucio said. 

It’s all a result of Senate Bill 22, which establishes the P-tech, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School program. According to the bill, it would provide a high school diploma, two-year post-secondary certificate, associate’s degree, or industry certification.

Lucio believes the greatest area for potential growth in terms of quality of life and jobs are in the skilled labor space. Lucio adds that educational institutions should train students for future economic growth.

“Even if we don’t have jobs available here, lets train them anyway,” said Lucio. “They may have to go elsewhere, initially, but eventually that will give us what we need to attract world-class companies to South Texas.”

Senate Bill 22 would require a memorandum of understanding between school districts, institutions of higher education and industry partners to train students for job placement immediately following the completion of the program.