Joe Esparza stands in front of line of welding booths in a suit and tie, smiling with hands clasped while talking with a welding instructor and two others.

(RED OAK, Texas) – Texas State Technical College welcomed Joe Esparza, the Texas Workforce Commission’s Commissioner Representing Employers, to its North Texas campus on Friday, January 19, for a tour of the Bombardier Aviation Apprenticeship Program and some of TSTC’s other industry training labs.

In addition to Esparza, representatives from local independent school districts, some of TSTC’s industry partners, leadership and staff from Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas, and others joined the tour. 

The tour began with a look into the Bombardier program, the primary reason for Esparza’s tour. Participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about the program.

“It’s a great example of creative thinking on the business side, as well as on TSTC’s, to partner with employers that are creating their own pipeline and creating their own supply chain for human resource capital,” Esparza said. “Not only are they benefiting from having a good workforce supply from this area, but also they’re training folks to go from here to Bell, Boeing, and all the other groups that utilize the same type of technology.”

Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC’s North Texas campus, led the tour.

“Initially when (Esparza’s) office reached out, the primary area of interest, because of the amount of funding that comes from the Texas Workforce Commission, was the Bombardier apprenticeship program,” Balch said. “Then he was gracious enough to give us the opportunity to show him our other programs in the building and talk about the partnerships with ISDs through dual enrollment and the CTE (career and technical education) courses with Red Oak.”

These partnerships quickly became the theme for the day’s events.

“They’re extremely important,” Balch said. “We at TSTC, our ISD partners, industry partners — none of us can do it alone. It takes partners at the state level, like the TWC, and then of course on the local level as well.”

It was these relationships that Esparza said stood out to him during his tour.

“It’s the collaboration to give our high school students dual enrollment,” he said. “(It) is a monumental task that’s going to pay off years down the road for a lot of these businesses that are partnered.”

Esparza said he sees TSTC impacting the Texas workforce at more than just the local level.

“It’s filling that trade gap, it’s filling the skills gap,” he said, referring to the fact that many Texas employers cannot find employees with the right skills.

Balch said that during the commissioner’s visit, it was obvious that Esparza was interested in what he was seeing and learning.

“What I saw was a commissioner that was passionate about this opportunity and passionate about supporting, obviously, the employers, but also understanding what the training opportunities are through the training partners and seeing firsthand, talking firsthand, with the people that deliver training to understand what the opportunities are,” Balch said.

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