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JET grants strive to fill in the gaps for high-demand positions struggling to find workers

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Posted at 5:26 PM, May 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-18 18:47:43-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nearly $8,000,000 in JET Grants were awarded to schools and colleges this week all over the Coastal Bend.

Alice ISD, Rockport Fulton ISD, and Aransas Pass ISD were all among the districts to receive a Jet Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

"Jet" stands for 'Jobs and Education for Texans'.

Schools and community colleges apply for these grants every year.

These grants not only benefit students but the fields that are struggling to find workers, such as the welding field or the nursing field.

These JET grants will allow students in the Coastal Bend to learn about career and technical education programs and prepare for high-demand occupations.

Wayne Kelly, he President of The Craft Training Center says there has been a shortage of people going into the welding field nation-wide for a long time.

“The numbers before Covid showed a 4,000,000 person gap, they still needed 4,000,000 so that is over 7,000,000 now.” Kelly said.

The schools awarded with these JET grants will be able to enrich their programs for students.

Students in the program will now get a chance to be exposed to these fields before they even graduate high school.

Tuloso-Midway ISD was one of the districts that benefited.

They received $1.4 million to use in their welding and health science program.

Mahogoney Garza, CTE and CCMR Coordinator for Toloso-Midway ISD, says this grant will be essential for the students because it will give them more opportunities.

“That is the reason for this grant. That is the reason we purchase this equipment, it's to give students work-based learning experiences, get them actually career trained, and give them the knowledge they need to succeed. " Garza said.

Del Mar College serves as a training partner for nine of the 11 school districts awarded with these grants.

Leonard Rivera Associate Vice President of Continuing Education and Off Campus Programs says these programs will plant a seed in student's minds in choosing these career paths.

“We need welders and we need nurses and again by providing the money toward these programs and getting the students at the high school interested in these health care professions," Rivera said.

For students looking into welding programs now, this could be a more affordable option while pursuing a higher education in the long run, Kelly says.

"For less than $3,000 and their whole total commitment, they can return on their investment almost immediately, and they can be making six-figure salaries within a few years.”

"Getting our students career ready we are actually funneling employed who are from here and raised here that know the economy that love this region to work with these jobs.” Kelly said.

Nearly 2,000 students in the coastal bend will benefit from these grants, as they will be able to train with new equipment in their schools.

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