One East Texas college is hoping to form a better partnership with its county government. Harrision County commissioners recently met with officials at Texas State Technical College in Marshall. They discussed ways to build stronger ties betweent the two groups as they toured the campus. One option indluded the possiblility of starting an aviation program for TSTC students, using the county airport as the classroom.
"The more you can get the word out and tell people what you can come here and get, the more you can get the support of the local politicians the better off we both are," said Randy Wooten, TSTC presdient. "We can help grow the economy of the county and we will get more students coming to us because more people know about us."
Officials say the high demand for technical jobs in their area makes TSTC attractive to locals. They say there is a strong cycle in place that keeps the economy growing. More than half of the college's students come from Harrison County...
the rest are from neighboring counties and North Louisiana. College officials say hands on experience and relevent training helps their students go straight from graduation to the workforce.
"I find that when they leave TSTC, unlike many schools, we find that they have the necessary skills to put them into our workforce," said Tommy Russell with SWEPCO.
The college has partnerships with several area industries to ensure the most up to date skills are being taught. Many companies even have a hand in molding the classes.
"We talk with industry partners, they come and interview students at the school, so they already know when they come and do the interview process." said Douglas Nunley, Lineman program instructor at TSTC.
"They (companies) actually decide what courses are being taught based on the industry needs," said Mike Tucker with Eastman Chemical Company. "They come to us with some experience and knowledge and contribute to the company a lot quicker than the normal person off the street so we reward them since it saves us money and time."
Tucker says the programs offered at TSTC feed into high demand jobs. Because of that the salaries are competitive with many graduates here earning $30 an hour. Officials say the relationships the college builds with local businesses ends up being a win-win for entire community, by keeping skilled workers in the local economy.
"It's been very rewarding," said Jerry Ray, a student at TSTC and Eastman student worker. "The small class sizes, the hands on training from the instructors helps us know what they expect from us when we get on the job."
technical jobs... with only 70-thousand graduates obtaining technical degrees.