HCC officials break ground on workforce training center in Stafford

By Laura Taglialavore

Jan 20, 2015

It doesn’t take a four-year degree to earn a salary above $50,000. Every year, thousands of well-paying jobs are created in the Houston area, but employers are seeing a shortage of trained workers. That’s why Houston Community College is breaking ground on a $27 million, state-of-the-art workforce training facility at the HCC Southwest Stafford campus.

Dozens attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the 57,000-square foot building, including Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella, HCC Chancellor Dr. Cesar Maldonado, Southwest College President Dr. Fena Garza and Trustees Robert Glaser, Dave Wilson and Neeta Sane.

The energy-efficient facility is designed to provide training for high-growth, advanced manufacturing trades, including welding, pipefitting and robotics. Salary potential for these “middle-skill” positions is expected to grow in the coming years.

“The manufacturing companies that we have in Stafford and the complimentary companies, those who supply and work with them, pay salaries of $50,000 to $80,000 a year,” said Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella. “When someone is working in a retail establishment making $9 an hour, you wonder if they can make it on that, but when they get a job in Stafford at one of the manufacturing companies, they can well afford to be here and feed their families.”

The new workforce training facility will include eight classrooms, seven labs and a large “maker space” where students and community members will be able to work with advanced equipment, including 3D printers and CNC routers (computer-controlled cutting machines).

Students will also be able to move through high-tech training very quickly at the new workforce development center, with most working toward industry recognized certifications or two-year associate of applied science degrees.

“Manufacturing opens doors and opportunities,” said Robert Glaser, District V trustee. “I own a small manufacturing business, but I have colleagues who own much larger facilities. They started on a machine in a garage somewhere; they didn’t go to a four-year college and get a Masters in business and come back and start a company. They started with their own two hands and the skills that they had. That’s what we’re offering here through the programs at this facility. It’s a very exciting time.”

HCC plans to work with local employers to help the community grow and provide the skilled workforce that businesses need.

“Valve manufacturing companies are scattered throughout the city. With changing economics the industry will have to look at repurposing some of what they do,” said HCC Chancellor Dr. Cesar Maldonado. “Houston Community College wants to be part of that. In training their workforce and partnering with them to build economic advisory committees, HCC can build curriculum that is relevant and rigorous to serve their needs.”

Southwest College President Dr. Fena Garza points out that classes aren’t just for recent high school graduates.

“Workforce training is for people who want to explore a new career and/or retrain for jobs that have become obsolete,” said Dr. Garza. “It’s also for veterans coming out of the military who are looking for additional training. This is an opportunity for everyone.”

The groundbreaking in Stafford is the third of 14 under the $425 million HCC Groundbreaker Bond Program, a capital improvement program involving all six of the district’s campuses.

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