A new program for the Victoria school district’s 2020 school year will aim at preparing high school students to directly enter the workforce.
Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools are designated by the Texas Education Agency and were first established during the 2018 school year. They are designed to give students the opportunity to earn work credentials, including certifications and licenses, while also completing educational requirements such as educational certificates, diplomas and degrees. VISD plans to enter the program beginning in fall of next year.
In addition to workforce training, what sets P-TECHS apart from other programs, said VISD Director of Innovation Melissa Correll, is its emphasis on training students for jobs in regional industries. For the first year of P-TECHS in Victoria, Correll said the program will primarily focus on jobs in the local health care industry.
“This program is (founded) on the idea that our area knows what it needs,” Correll said. “When a student exits the program, they are going to exit knowing there’s a need for their skills in the community.”
To prepare for the program, school district officials are currently meeting with local health care leaders, students and other stakeholders.
Mike Olson, CEO of Citizens Medical Center, is a member of the program’s planning committee. Olson said he could envision high school graduates working in various technician and nurse assistant positions.
Olson said the planning committee is still in its early stages but that he hopes the program could help supply Victoria and his hospital with skilled workers.
“Anytime we have students get their education here locally, it’s a win-win for all of us,” Olson said.
VISD Superintendent Quintin Shepherd said he sees a future for the program in collaborating with various industrial companies, and he hopes he can turn the program into a pipeline to fill jobs at VISD.
“We still have something like 60 spots we need to fill in the next few months,” Shepherd said. “If I can start to develop my own workforce, that would be great.”