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ACC, Manor ISD team up to open new job-training center for students

The Manor school district will open a new workforce training center — the first of its kind in Central Texas — in the fall for students to earn college credit and a job certificate.

In partnership with Austin Community College, Manor High School juniors and seniors can earn certifications to work as nursing assistants, medical assistants and computer technicians. Certification programs are also offered in heating and air conditioning, electrical pre-apprenticeship and mechatronics. In most of those programs, students will also earn college credit.

“There is a lot of push for kids to go to college — and we’re all about that as well — but not every student goes, so this is providing choices for students so they have a menu of options of what they want to do when they graduate,” Superintendent Kevin Brackmeyer said.

The center comes as school districts across the state are finding ways to offer more technical training to be compliant with House Bill 5, a 2013 law that requires all high school freshmen to choose a specialized graduation plan called an endorsement. Students have the option to choose a career path — akin to a college major — in one of five endorsement areas: arts and humanities; business and industry; public services; multidisciplinary studies; and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

School districts were given little state guidance on how to implement changes called for by the law, but the hope is that all students can find a high-paying job whether they go to college or not.

Seventeen-year-old Rodrigo Delgado Suarez, a rising senior at Manor High School, wants to study mechanical or electrical engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio or at Texas State University. His father is a pipe fitter and his mom cares for his 11-year-old twin brothers at home, so sending Rodrigo to college would be a financial drain for the family. Rodrigo wants to take the burden off of them and work while he studies in college.

The first step is getting a certification at Manor’s electrical pre-apprenticeship program, Rodrigo said.

“Instead of working at McDonald’s or a fast-food place, with my certification I can be making good money,” Rodrigo said. “I have two little brothers, and I want to set a great example and be successful and be someone in life.”

Almost 260 students have signed up to learn at the new center at the district’s old administration building, which is being renovated.

The programs will be free to students, but the district will spend about $192,000 a year to fund the center’s offerings. ACC will also cover some of the expenses, including providing its professors to teach the classes. The Texas Workforce Commission gave ACC a $225,000 grant that helped cover the cost of equipment for the center.

Students will be bused to and from the center every day.

For several years, the college has partnered with school districts to offer work training programs. Hector Aguilar, ACC’s executive dean of continuing education, said that having a work training center, especially one that offers college credit, in a school district is uncommon, although they hope that it will be replicated elsewhere.

Training high school students in a skilled trade is meeting a need in the city, he said.

“Companies are asking for these employees. Companies need people that know these skills,” Aguilar said.

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