Skilled labor still needed in Texoma

© More welders are needed to fill skilled jobs.
© More welders are needed to fill skilled jobs.

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - "Can we get quality skilled labor for the jobs that we need?" Vernon College President Dr. Dusty Johnston said on Wednesday.

It is the same question industry experts have asked as well.

"I've been doing this for a long time," Dr. Johnston said. "We cannot fill the nursing shortage in Texas it seems like.

It is not the only industry struggling to find workers.

"For right now, the cycle is the number of jobs outnumber the number of welders in the area," Dr. Johnston said.

In Texas, 4,300 construction jobs were added in December but more workers are still needed. That is something President Donald Trump spoke about during his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

Several Texoma school officials said they are addressing the problem. At Vernon College, there are 150 students in the nursing program per cycle.

"They will complete the program, they will have a state licensure exam after that," Dr. Johnston said. "They will have a job waiting for them once they get that licensure."

There are more than 30 students in the welding program and 1,300 in its vocational job training courses. More than 90 percent of them get a job after graduation.

The college uses industry experts to help them develop their courses.

"Those are our contacts for that industry and the ones students can use to get jobs," Dr. Johnston said.

The focus on skilled labor jobs begins in high school in Texoma.

Wichita Falls ISD opened its Career Education Center, last year, which helps prepare students for a career before some of them even turn 18.

Bowie High School is doing something similar. It teamed up with North Central Texas College to offer welding courses to its high school students.

It also offers a certified nursing assistant course (CNA) to them as well.

Another skilled labor school will open soon. The new NCTC Industrial Technology Center in Bowie opens in March.

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