(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College has partnered with Fort Worth-based aerospace manufacturer Bell Textron to provide learning and growth opportunities for some of its students through an apprenticeship program.
The program will partner TSTC students in certain technologies at the North Texas campus with a senior Bell Textron technician who they will shadow over a two-year period.
Frank Green, a representative for Bell Textron, said a large reason for the program was to help replace retirees.
“We have people working here at Bell in their 70s and 80s,” he said. “When that talent pool leaves, you’re talking about people that have been here 30 or 40 years walking out the door and you have no real replacements for them. So the thought process came about as maybe we need to be looking at this differently. We’re having to fight for the same talent pool. Maybe we need to look at them a lot younger, a lot more highly skilled and ready to come in and be mentored.”
When considering schools from which to recruit students with knowledge of the CNC (computer numerical control) machining field, Green said TSTC was an easy choice.
“Out of all the schools we talked with, TSTC was No. 1,” he said. “The way that the campus was set up, the way the instruction was set up, the preparedness of the students that we did hire for these roles was phenomenal. We came in about two or three years ago now, and we hired a group of students that came in and blew the doors off the place. They were work-ready, they were hungry, they were ready to learn.”
Jarriet Durham, lead instructor for TSTC’s Industrial Systems program, described Gil Gonzalez, an Industrial Systems student being considered for the apprenticeship program, in a similar way.
“Gil would show up on Saturday to work on things he knew he needed to work on,” Durham said. “He would come in before class for extra learning time, and I was really impressed with that. I think he’ll be a great example of the type of students that we produce at TSTC if they have the hunger to learn and to be successful.”
Durham said that because of these attributes, he believes that Gonzalez would be a great candidate to become the first from TSTC to join the program.
“He (would be) the flagship, he (would be) the poster child, he would be No. 1,” Durham said. “I think he’s a great candidate … because he’s hungry and he wants to succeed.”
Gonzalez said the opportunity appealed to him because of the opportunity to learn and gain experience.
“If nothing else, I feel like I could learn a lot,” he said. “That’s my main goal right now. I know a little bit, but I want to learn more, and I want to be more dependable and be a great worker. I just want to learn as much as I can. The knowledge I (could) gain from them (would) be invaluable.”
Green said that ultimately he wants the apprenticeship program to provide students from technical schools with the same opportunities as those from four-year universities.
“We have to treat this the same way we would a graduate from a four-year university,” he said. “I want to treat our technical schools the exact same way. If you’re looking at bringing in an engineer from a major university that has four years or even a master’s degree in engineering, why can’t I get a two-year CNC machinist who’s skilled and ready to come to work?”
Green said the program is scheduled to start sometime later this year.
Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, go to tstc.edu.