Rep. Filemon Vela met with local educators in Brownsville on Wednesday to discuss a possible workforce opportunity for students.

Vela, along with educators from Brownsville Independent School District, local community colleges and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, hope to develop an apprenticeship program with the Tella Tool & Manufacturing company that will give students real workforce training.

“It’s so important for employers to have apprenticeship-type programs because they have an opportunity to job test other employees before they actually hire them,” said Texas Southwest College Interim President Mike Shannon. “It gives us a chance to make sure we’re helping that solid background for the students as well as the employers need.”

Plant Manager Luis Garcia gave the congressman and educators a tour of the facility to show what students could find themselves doing, if the apprenticeship program were to come to fruition.

Educators expressed the need for an apprenticeship program that will serve as a pipeline from school to workforce, especially for students who decide to opt out of an education outside of the Rio Grande Valley.

“As a district, we are pursuing more options for our students,” said Brownsville ISD Superintendent Dr. Esperenza Zendejas. “We will be applying for some of the grants that were mentioned, so we can start a full-fledged manufacturing program at our school district, and I hope soon. Many of our students, who don’t want to go away to a college, actually can stay here, earn and learn–earn and continue their education here.”

Zendejas said implementing an apprenticeship program will take a little over a year, due to lack of equipment on hand.