A new event in Texas City aims to connect students training in industrial careers to local trade jobs.
The Industrial Trades Center in Texas City, a program of the Texas City Independent School District, will hold its first ever career fair on Tuesday.
“We thought it would start out small, but after we spread the word and got plant managers involved, we had 25 managers of businesses sign up, along with four different schools offering vocational training programs and four union representatives,” said Alan Hutchins, president of A&A Machine & Fabrication in La Marque and chairman of the trades center’s advisory council.
Opened in January 2017, the center educates 11th and 12th graders from Texas City and La Marque in welding, pipe-fitting, machining, building construction and maritime trades.
“This is a chance for them to meet and greet and get out in the world, so to speak,” Hutchins said. “Some of these kids could go to college, or to tech school, or into the military, but some could go directly into internships or craft work. They are not entering at the level of a seasoned worker, but they are one to two years ahead of a guy just off the street.”
The advisory council is made up of community members and acts as a guide for the trade center, including initiating this first career fair, expected to become an annual event.
Students take two years of specialized training in industrial skills along with regular high school classes, are trained in safety practices and are drug tested, just as they would be to gain employment within industry.
Hutchins’ company plans to hire students who have completed their certification through the program, and he said the trades center serves an important function of providing workers to feed the pipeline of skilled jobs required by oil, gas and chemical industries and the industries that support them.
“There’s no doubt that there’s a need for people with these crafts and skills, so I think there’s just an ever-growing knowledge that we’ve got to do something locally to reach high schoolers, and maybe even middle schoolers, to let them know about these career opportunities,” Hutchins said.
“You can have a good career with these jobs.”
Students in the program can walk away with coveted credentials, like the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, a type of security clearance that allows a person to drive onto secure port facilities.
“This alerts a potential employer that this student has been tested and trained and is ready to enter the workforce,” Hutchins said.
The career fair is open to students currently enrolled in the Industrial Trades Center program and students interested in attending the program or training to work in industrial crafts and trades.