For most of the summer the Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend has been offering free career youth camps.
Campers have been able to get hands-on experience in a few programs.
These camps are crucial in order to get middle school students interested and involved in the trade industry.
This is the 7th year the middle school camp has been offered at the Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend.
"In the summer, we work with 6th, 7th and 8th graders. We are trying to expose them to all the different crafts that are out there that are well-paying jobs. If they don’t know what they are, then they will never be able to enter those fields," said Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend President Michael Sandroussi.
The camps focus on building pathways for their campers. The camps should expose students to college programs, show them how to continue their training, and help them map out their career goals.
"They get an idea of the industry. So since they are in middle school, they have more time to think about it as they go through high school and their school years, and have more time to think about their future," said craftsman student Giovanni Esparza.
"Middle school students learned about welding,instrumentation, rigging, fall protection, hazmat, pipefitting, and they did a little bit of mobile crane. It is all hands-on. It is very important for not only students, but for everyone to really understand what a craftsman is, and what they do, and how much they make," said Sandroussi.
With thousands of jobs unfilled due to the ever-growing skills gap, the manufacturing industry is turning its gaze to younger boys and girls.
"Right now in the Coastal Bend we are thriving. We have billions of dollars of investments, we have the natural resources, but we don’t have the human resources. We are still developing those in order to produce," said Sandroussi.
Organizers hope the students leave inspired to work towards a career that is in high demand and offers high pay.
This year they had 8 area schools take part in their grant funded summer camp program.
Partnerships with schools can help identify at-risk students who might benefit most from the hands-on programming camps offer. School partnerships can also grant campers access to welding shops, equipment, and tools.
Currently, the center offers craft training programs in NCCER’s Core Curriculum, Electrical, Industrial Painting, Instrumentation Fitter, Instrumentation Technician, Pipefitting, Mobile Crane Operations, Plumbing, Scaffolding, Field Safety, Safety Technology and Welding.