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Victoria College receives almost $800,000 to fund Caterpillar training program

By Carolina Astrain
Sept. 5, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.

Texas Workforce Solutions Executive Director Henry Guajardo sits across the aisle from Caterpillar employees undergoing state-funded training at Victoria College on Sept. 5, 2012.

Andres Alcantar admitted he was nervous about the traffic Wednesday morning.

"I gave myself an extra hour to get here and I made it by about five minutes," said Alcantar, the chairman for the Texas Workforce Commission. "There's a lot of road work and activity on our state highways."

The clamor of commercial industry that has taken over Texas roads has been embraced by Victoria College and Caterpillar since they started the application process for a Skills Development Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

The college was awarded $789,174 to be put toward training 380 new Caterpillar employees and manufacturing equipment that Victoria College plans to use beyond its partnership with the manufacturing giant.

"The reason Caterpillar employees have been well-trained is because we have great instructors," said Victoria College president Tom Butler.

The training focuses on assembly, machining, production welding, logistics, safety and quality awareness. After training is complete, employees start to work at the plant.

"We've worked closely in the recruiting process," said Texas Workforce Solutions Executive Director Henry Guajardo. "The Golden Crescent is very fortunate to have the community college and Caterpillar here."

Crossroads resident Blake Sanchez, who completed the training at Victoria College this week, looks forward to working as a production technician. Sanchez previously worked at a restaurant supply warehouse.

"I'm honored to be working with the company," Sanchez said. "Overall it's a really great thing for Victoria."

Without the funding from the state, Butler said, he doubts Victoria College would have been able to provide the training for Caterpillar employees.

"We've done a number of these sort of training programs for years," Butler said. "We do have plans for more in the near future."

Alcantar said he works on appropriation requests to the state legislature to get funding on behalf of the commission.

"At the end of the day we want to demonstrate to employers that we can provide a workforce," Alcantar said. "We're one of the best and most responsive training programs in the country."



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