Students learning what it takes to be a skilled worker

Students learning what it takes to be a skilled worker

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Students are getting prepared for a career not just college. With an evolving workforce, more and more of the jobs are going to trained workers who have a proven skill set.

Whether students are looking to go straight from graduation into the real world, or to go through years of college to get that degree, Lubbock has plenty of opportunities to provide students with the path to their future.

"Absolutely you don't have to have a four year degree," Executive Director of South Plains College Lubbock Kevin McConic said. "That's great if that's your path and that's what you want to do, certainly go and do that. But the opportunity and the option is here."

"Really, kids can go straight to work out of high school, they can go on to a technical school or a community college, they can go to the university," Executive Director of the Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center said.

Both SPC and several area districts have robust technical programs. Lubbock ISD features the ATC.

"It was the forethought of the city, of Market Lubbock, South Plains College and Lubbock ISD, and it was really the first partnership of its kind in the state and really in the nation," Berset said.

The state of the art facility houses students from every Lubbock ISD high school who are choosing to become career-ready in trade and technical fields.

"Basically, 30 to 32 people percent of the jobs right now require a four year degree, so if everybody went and got a four year degree, there wouldn't be enough jobs for them. And everybody doesn't want to do the same thing, which is wonderful because we need people doing all of the different jobs," Berset said.

With many classes available, students can build a skill set and even a resume.

"I think i speak for all of us whenever we say that we love it, we love getting to come here and actually learn something and actually put it into practice," Computer Networking student Matt Wilson said.

The teachers provide a way for a student to fit in the workforce.

"I can be ready for any computer job that is presented to me in the future," Wilson said.

"When the students come here, they learn a hands on skill," Computer Networking teacher Brandon Grace said. "A tangible thing that they can take and they can actually go out and make money. Or they can go out and teach somebody how to do something. They have all these different skill sets they're able to go out and be a benefit to society."

The good thing is, if students do choose to further their education past high school graduation, they'll have a leg up.

"If our students make an 80 or better, then they get free college credit. So, they don't have to pay for that at all, and they also don't have to repeat that course. It just shows that the college values what we're doing," Berset said.

Students aren't really limited going into technical schools like South Plains.

"You can get a beginning certificate or an advanced certificate over a two year period. Or, you can add 15 more hours of core education courses and make that an associate's degree," McConic said.

The college fosters an environment for students on alternative paths.

"We pushed a lot of our students to do four year universities and that's great, but not everybody is meant to do that, as a matter of fact, we don't need everybody going to four year universities," McConic said.

The skills students learn translate into value for businesses.

"We've got companies in Lubbock calling us right now saying 'hey do you have students in your program? We need people to come and work,'" McConic said.

"Businesses require and are far more interested, 'does somebody have the skills and knowledge I need, versus a degree," Chris Allen with LEDA said.

The Lubbock Economic Development Alliance works with these institutions on creating new programs that teach in demand skills.

"We recognize that our future workforce is what is the talent pipeline that we are going to be pulling from and that our businesses are going to be hiring from," Allen said.

"This is a reality, these are where the jobs are. We need to embrace that, and then just make sure that we're providing the training necessary to fill those jobs," Berset said.

For more information on the Byron Martin ATC, click here.

For more information on South Plains College Lubbock Center, click here.

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