TEEX trains at-risk youth in Coastal Bend area

7/16/2001 12:00 AM

More than 400 South Texas high school students could benefit from TEEX skills training this summer in an innovative program for at-risk youth funded by the Coastal Bend Workforce Development Board. The board provides assistance for youth and adults in Corpus Christi and 11 surrounding counties.

The training is designed for economically disadvantaged, at-risk youth still in school as well as those who have dropped out.

The training can qualify for high school or college credit, and the youth will receive a stipend while attending the training. If they complete the training, they get a TEEX certificate, have a guaranteed job and can also qualify for high school or college credit, said TEEX Director Dr. Kem Bennett.

“TEEX is filling a niche in workforce development in the state that no one else is doing,” said Bennett. “We respond to employer needs, and we have no boundaries. We can take our training anywhere in the state.”

Several TEEX courses are being held across the Coastal Bend area, including heavy equipment operation, pipefitting, information technology, carpentry, electrical, heavy construction, forklift operation, structural fabrication, warehousing, basic electronics and electronic assembly and repair, outside plant technician and basic business skills. The Coastal Bend Workforce Development Board also is sending 10 youth ages 18-24 to Riverside campus to attend the TEEX unexploded ordnance technician I class.

Career and technology education programs are struggling at some schools due to stiffer academic programs that leave students with little time during the regular school year for career and technology classes, said Dr. Ed Cain, manager of educational initiatives for TEEX. This new program allows students to pursue some of these classes in the summer.

What was needed was a linkage agent to link business and industry with the secondary schools, which are producing the future workforce, Cain said. TEEX is serving as the linkage agent and also doing the training.

“It’s a win-win situation all around,” Cain added. “The reaction of the communities has been overwhelmingly positive. This is an investment in the future.

The divisions within TEEX are responding to this new initiative, Cain said. “When companies tell us what they need, TEEX puts together the training package to fit the job,” he said. “Employers are getting customized training.” And, he added, in some cases, TEEX instructors are getting emergency teacher certification to teach in the secondary schools.

TEEX has developed a model that makes sense, he added. It is business-driven, includes a long-range plan and involves the stakeholders.

“It’s helping the schools, giving kids a future, meeting the needs of the communities and meeting the needs of employers,” Cain said. “It’s a winning combination.”

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