Vocational Training, Associates Degrees Helping to Put People to Work Faster in Cameron Co.

Friday, January 27, 2012 - 11:10am

The unemployment rate in Cameron County is at 11.2%, the second highest in the Lone Star State.

News Center 23 reporter Na'Tassia Finley has more on how certain job skills are in demand, and if more of the unemployed focused in on these skills sets, our unemployment numbers would drop.

Welding is one of about 42 jobs or skills sets that are in demand in Cameron County. Welding specifically ranks 28th on the list, a list compiled by Texas Workforce Solutions.

Texas Workforce Solutions of Cameron County is pushing for students and job seekers to study in career fields that can get them in the workforce quicker, in hopes of getting our unemployment rate to drop and people off of unemployment benefits. In Cameron County, there are currently 11-thousand people collecting benefits despite there being jobs out there. The problem is, the available jobs require specific skill sets.

"No doubt that the higher in your education levels, the more money you are going to make some point, but the reality of the situation is that 80% of tomorrow's jobs are technical in nature," says Executive Director, Pat Hobbs, of Texas Workforce Solutions of Cameron County.

Also on the list of in demand jobs, those related to the health care industry, retail, and computer support, just to name a few.

"Right now with our unemployment situation the way it is, if people want to go to work they're probably more likely to get a job with a one year certification or a two year associate degree," says Hobbs.

That's what 19 year old Edward Luna decided he was going to do as soon as he graduated from high school in Weslaco. He headed to TSTC in Harlingen to complete an 18 month course in welding. As soon as he graduates, he'll start full time work with a company here in the Rio Grande Valley, earning himself a pretty nice salary for someone brand new to the workforce.

"Starting pay for a welder for their first year will be about 50-thousand dollars, probably more, you know it depends if you stay down here in the valley, that's probably 50-thousand, but if you start going up north the jobs start paying more and you get a lot more hours, " says welding student, Edward Luna.

Like previously mentioned, there are 41 other in demand vocational fields that people can go into. Hobbs says so many of those jobs can potentially pay even more than what a person with a bachelor's degree would make.

The focus now is still to push for higher education, but Hobbs says it’s extremely important that young adults know that associates degrees or certificates are just as good as earning a four year college degree.

For more information on available jobs here in Cameron County you can visit Texas Workforce Solutions’ website at www.wfscameron.com or contact them at 956-548-6717.

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