It is urgent students are ready for jobs of the future. According to those speaking at INNO at STC, now more than ever, college graduates with real-world experience are needed for even the most entry level of jobs.
Last week, INNO, STC’s sixth annual Binational Innovation Conference, welcomed those in industry, education and economic development. Each brought information focused on innovation as well as the impact of students on the future workforce. The conference is a bi-national collaborative effort between STC and El Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores in Reynosa, Mexico. It strives to provide both entrepreneurs and the business community with information about new cross-border economic opportunities.
“We need to make sure that we have our citizens and our students ready for the jobs of the future,” said Ricardo Olivares, program chair for Business Administration at STC.
Blake Hastings, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gave an economic overview of the South Texas region.
“I want to personally applaud what you and the business community are doing here in McAllen as it relates to not only solving the workforce issue for your community but for being exemplary throughout the rest of the state and perhaps the rest of the country,” Hastings said. “It works best when the model is simple and direct between employers and those producing the future workforce, and the model created here at STC is truly exemplary.”
Julian Alvarez, commissioner representing labor for TWC, spoke on developing a future workforce using both soft skills and technology. PSJA ISD Superintendent Daniel King spoke on education and workforce development vital to the Texas economy.
An afternoon panel discussion with economic experts included Marie McDermott, executive director of Weslaco EDC; Victor Perez, executive director with Pharr EDC; Joey Treviño, executive director of Edinburg EDC; Sergio Contreras, president and CEO of the RGV Partnership; Ramiro Garza, president of RG Economic Advisors; and Rose Benavidez, STC trustee and president of Starr Industrial Foundation.
According to an economic study from STC, the accumulated contribution of former STC students currently employed in the state workforce amount to $325.4 million in added income.
“Moving forward, every single program that we have, has that component of real-world experience,” said Mario Reyna, dean of Business, Technology and Public Safety at STC. “Employers are looking for people who have skills, and not necessarily from a four-year college degree. They want people to demonstrate that they have a skill. They want to know they can do something. So that’s where the conversation is right now at the national level.”