Technological developments in the energy sector coupled with high oil prices brought explosive growth to the region in recent years. Rural population, an aging workforce, and rapid expansion created a perfect storm; leaving businesses and industry struggling to find trained workers in occupations such as electrical, construction trades, heavy equipment, CDL drivers, and welding. The West Texas Energy Consortium and local education partners sought a unified, regional solution to meet employer needs. Maintaining a focus on transparency, mobility, and regional need; welding was identified as the most urgent high wage, high demand occupation in need of skilled workers.
Texas employs more welders than any other state and a large contingency of those are here in the region. Annual growth in the state from 2004-2014 was 18% and the field is expected to keep growing. Our communities and businesses needed a solution that would both address the strain immediately and better prepare institutions for growth like this in the future.
The resulting product is the first regionally aligned, fully tranferable Level I Welding Certificate of its kind, recognized and adopted by participating community colleges and technical schools. The wide geographical expanse of rural West Texas and the mobility of the energy sector pose unique challenges which the Consortium's "regional ecosystem" approach successfully handled, thanks to the cooperation and hard work of the individuals listed below, as well as administrators, instructors, WTxEC executive leadership, workforce boards, and others. The timeline here provides a snapshot overview of the alignment process, and resulting degree plan.
Program Alignment Committee Chairs
Dr. Ian Roark, Dean of Career, Technical, and Workforce Education, Odessa College (formerly)
Dr. Donald Wood, VP of Institutional Effectiveness, Odessa College
Program Alignment Leadership Committee Members
Kyle Smith, Interim President, TSTC West Texas
Nancy Woods Hernandez, Division Director of Continuing Education, Howard College San Angelo
Curt Pervier, Dean of Applied Technology, Midland College
Donna Cutler, Director of Workforce Development, Western Texas College
Chad Averette, Director of Workforce Training, Howard College Big Spring
Carol Dupree, Provost Abilene Campus, Cisco College
Charlotte Speegle, Executive Dean of Workforce Education, Cisco College
Doug Ridge, WTxEC Vice-Chair and Education & Workforce Liaison
Program Alignment WTxEC Staff Support
Katherine Stokes, Executive Director
Alyssa Goodgame, Regional Outreach Coordinator