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Workforce Solutions connects education, business

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072822 workforce solutionsTessa Easley, CTE teacher at Latexo ISD, participated in the Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas Teacher Externship program offered by Vulcraft Texas in Grapeland.

Special to the Courier

The second annual Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas Teacher Externship was held June 13-17, 2022, to highlight the skills necessary for success and the career opportunities across the 12 counties of Deep East Texas. Twenty-five businesses and 27 teachers from 11 Independent School Districts collaborated to better prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce.

The focus was on high-demand occupations in Deep East Texas industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, professional and technical services and information technology.

“Currently there is a shortage of workers, and a skills gap has been identified by our region’s employers,” said Mark Durand, Executive Director of Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas. “The Teacher Externship was developed based on employer feedback to better connect the qualifications of students entering the workforce with the expectations of the workplace.”

The 27 career and technical education teachers were matched with 25 businesses for a week of learning, observing and job-shadowing. The teachers gained industry strategies for the classroom to help them inform, educate, guide and connect students to high demand occupations that match their skill sets.

The project is funded 100% with federal funds through a $58,112 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.
State Representative Trent Ashby said, “This is really a model that should be replicated across the state of Texas. This is a true win-win when you can bring educators and employers from the private sector into a week-long environment where they are collaborating, working together and sharing information.

On the education side, for our teachers to be the best they can be in the classroom, they need to know what the expectations of the employers in their communities are. On the employer side, it’s very helpful for them to be able to provide that input to these educators about the type of skills needed in the workforce and to continue to align education with workforce.”

Ashby attended the debriefing session at the end of the week. He noted, “It’s very relevant to both parties that are involved. This is such an exciting program and I’m really delighted to see the legislature provide the funding to allow this type of collaboration and partnership to continue.”

Among the immediate positive outcomes from the experiences were: skill-specific lessons for the classroom, internships, job opportunities, mock interviews, employers speaking at schools, and student tours during the upcoming school year. Teachers also heard employers talk about the need for soft skills such as reliability, accountability, communication, empathy, attendance, professional behavior, listening, decision-making, productivity, and problem-solving. Soft skills, the key to workplace success, were also referred to as employability skills, work-readiness skills and job-readiness skills.

“As a result, the teachers have a better understanding of the high demand industries and the types of technical and soft skills needed for success in the Deep East Texas economy. The employers and local schools have strengthened their relationships,” said Mr. Durand. “On behalf of the local workforce development board, I want to express our appreciation to the employers who spent considerable time and resources to plan meaningful experiences for the teachers. We are equally grateful to the teachers who embraced the learning opportunity and devoted a week of their summer to the program.”

Participating Business Partners

Axley & Rode
Burns Forestry
Crockett Florist and Gifts
Crockett Medical Center
Crockett Veterinary Hospital
Etech
EverythingU
Lee Trans
Lincoln Lumber
Lockheed Martin
Louisiana Pacific Jasper OSB
Lufkin Gears
Marshall’s Tax and Business
McWilliams & Son
MSGPR
NacSpace
Polk County Sheriff’s Office
Sabine County Hospital
Spirit Outfitters
St. Luke’s Health Memorial
STI Group
Third Day Farm and Ranch
Timberidge Nursing and Rehab
Vulcraft Texas
Woodland Heights Medical Center

Participating School Districts and Teachers
Corrigan-Camden ISD – Tammy Farr, Phyllis Ortiz, Rayford Sweats
Crockett ISD – Chris Wilder, Rhett Wilson
Diboll ISD – Melinda Brasuell, Melissa Kaemmerling, Brenda Palomino, Clint Walker
Grapeland ISD – Shellee Goolsby
Huntington ISD – Michael Lantz
Jasper ISD – Allen Hadnot, Jimell Powell, Rachel Vickers
Latexo ISD – Tessa Easley, Larry Langford, Heather Mooneyham, Krystal Patterson
Lufkin ISD – Jennifer Free, Sonja Stephens
Nacogdoches ISD – Mary Sharp, Travis Squyres
Newton ISD – Andy Kibodeaux, Daniel Odom, Susie Osment, Sarah Trammell
West Sabine ISD – Tommy Jenkins

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