In a classroom inside the new Workforce Center of Excellence on the city's Southwest Side the students are using virtual techniques to learn more efficiently.
Lincoln Electric’s Steve Hoenes guides the students through prompts on the screen and makes sure the helmet is fitted correctly. Before long, they are welding virtually and a score is produced seconds after a student finishes.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has awarded $1.3 million to the Alamo, Coastal Bend, Laredo, South Texas Junior and Victoria Colleges to train and educate workers for the Eagle Ford Shale oil and natural gas boom.
"It's going to train up to 800 individuals to go to work very quickly and be able to make a living wage and be able to make a living wage and support their families and help improve the Texas economy,” said THECB Commissioner Raymund Paredes.
Employers reported that more than 2,500 jobs go unfilled, so they turned to the Alamo Colleges, who are teaming up with Workforce Solutions in partnership with the San Antonio Manufacturers Association for the "Just in Time" program. Students participate in a 90-day class, with 30 days of on the job training.
The Department of Education grant is part of $223 million presented to historically black colleges and universities. Grant monies are awarded based on each school’s enrollment and the 11,000 students at St. Philip’s College make it the second largest recipient.
St. Philip’s President Adena Willams Loston said the college will receive this grant for several years.
“They come to us in a five year cycle," said Williams. "We’re starting a new cycle this year from 2012 to 2017 and we do expect that our allocation in the next four years will be roughly about $5 to $6 million."