(RED OAK, Texas) – Working in the industrial systems field does not just involve manufacturing.
Jarriet Durham, lead instructor in Texas State Technical College’s Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization program in North Texas, said graduates’ skills are also needed in the oil and gas and alternative energy fields. Workers can also go into electrical distribution and construction.
“A majority of the graduates are working in the industry when they cross the stage,” Durham said. “We can’t provide enough graduates right now.”
TSTC and the Gerdau Midlothian Steel Mill have partnered since 2015 in providing employees with opportunities to work toward certificates of completion or associate degrees in the Industrial Systems program.
Jayelle Kryder, Gerdau’s human resources manager, said there is an application period each year for the company’s machine operators and maintenance personnel to apply to pursue their studies at TSTC. Once chosen, workers travel to the Red Oak campus each Friday during semesters to take classes.
“I love the partnership,” Kryder said. “For us, especially in this job market right now, it is giving me a lot of peace of mind knowing we have a long-term pipeline for maintenance. It is not easy to find external maintenance technicians that understand an industrial setting.”
Kryder recommends that other companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area take a look at what TSTC can do for them.
“For any employers looking at their long-term technical pipelines, building it in-house has been phenomenal for us,” she said. “TSTC has been a great business partner to help us focus on the skills our folks need.”
In the last year, TSTC’s Industrial Systems graduates have been hired by the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as Alcon Laboratories, Aloe Vera of America, Gerdau, Mapei Corp., Mechanical Comfort Systems and Oncor, according to TSTC’s Career Services office.
According to information from Workforce Solutions North Central Texas in Arlington, there were more than 300 job openings from March to June for industrial machinery mechanics, millwrights and machinery maintenance workers in the 16-county North Texas area. Cities with the most job openings during this period were Arlington, Dallas, Fort Worth, Garland and Grand Prairie.
Some of the companies that have been looking for workers in the last three months include Avis Budget Group Inc., Bass Pro Shops, Dart Container Corp. and Niagara Bottling Co., according to Workforce Solutions. Companies are considering workers who can do repair work, handle machinery, weld, undertake preventive maintenance and drive a forklift.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website, industrial machinery mechanics in Texas earn a yearly median salary of more than $54,000. Jobs are centered in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas. More than 42,500 workers will be needed by 2028 in Texas.
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Industrial Systems – Electrical Specialization and an Industrial Systems Mechanic – Electrical certificate at its North Texas campus. The program offers day and night classes in a hybrid format.
Some of the topics that students learn in the program include basic electrical theory, hydraulics, machinery installation, motor control and programmable logic controllers. Hands-on work is emphasized in the program.
The program attracts more nontraditional students than those just out of high school. Durham attributes this to students knowing someone who already works in the industry.
“It is a physical job, but technical,” he said. “It is not glamorous.”
Registration continues for the fall semester, and scholarships are available. For more information, go to tstc.edu.