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As a Talent Hub, Corpus Christi to train locals for skilled jobs

Announcing Corpus Christi’s designation as a Talent Hub at a news conference Tuesday, June 5, were three representatives of the organizations that will be using a $275,000 grant to train workers for coming Corpus Christi jobs: Leonard Rivera (left), dean of continuing education and off-campus programs at Del Mar College; Dr. Janet Cunningham, executive director of Citizens for Educational Excellence; and Ken Trevino, president and CEO of Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend. Courtesy photos

Corpus Christi is now a Talent Hub for job training and recruitment — one of seven cities in the nation being recognized with grant money for creating environments that attract, retain, and cultivate job talent, especially among low-income families and individuals who have some college credits but no degree. The designation, which was announced Tuesday, June 5, at Staples Career Center in Corpus Christi, came from a partnership between the Lumina and Kresge foundations.

Lumina Foundation is a private foundation based in Indianapolis with a mission to create learning opportunities for everyone. The Kresge Foundation builds opportunities for low-income families. Together, they are giving three Corpus Christi organizations $275,000 to train workers and place them in skilled jobs. Other T

Talent Hub cities are committed to eliminating disparities in educational outcomes among minorities and low-income populations. The goal is to raise the nation’s overall post-high school attainment level to 60 percent of working-age adults by 2025. That includes 18- to 22-year-old students, older adults with college experience who stopped before finishing their studies, and adults with no formal education beyond high school

Close working relationships between organizations in the city created this opportunity for Corpus Christi, said Ken Trevino, president and CEO of Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend, when making the announcement. Workforce Solutions is working with Citizens for Educational Excellence and Del Mar College on the Talent Hub program.

The money will target the city’s population that has some college but no degrees. That happens to be one-fourth of the city’s residents.

“We have employers who are begging for educated and skilled workers,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, executive director of Citizens for Educational Excellence. “Those people can come from Corpus Christi. This money can be used to set them on the pathway.”

The jobs for which people will be trained are high-paying, careers that can bring a family out of poverty and solidly into the middle class, said Corpus Christi City Council member Greg Smith.

“These are jobs you can raise a family with and go on to the next level and have a good life,” Smith said at the news conference. “Right now, in Corpus Christi, we have a huge opportunity. It is fantastic to get this grant.”

Newly appointed City Council member Everett Roy was also on hand to share his personal life experience, which speaks to the Talent Hub issue.

“When I was in college, I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do in life,” he said. “I had to go into the workforce for a while. I came back to finish my education later. This is a tremendous opportunity for our community and young people.”

Leonard Rivera, dean of continuing education and off-campus programs at Del Mar College, said the school would be working with high school students and adults who have some college but no degrees. Many of the training programs are fast-tracked, including eight-week carpentry and pipeline classes.

“We are going to work tirelessly with this group to get them trained and upscaled to realize the dreams they have,” Rivera said. “One of the reasons why Lumina bestowed this upon us, they see us as innovators, movers, and shakers. They see us making things happen.”

From Del Mar College classes, students will turn to Workforce Solutions for job placement.

“We have all these jobs being added in Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend,” Trevino said. “We have the challenge of meeting that demand. Our community deserves this grant. The jobs in our community belong to us. The kids in our schools right now should have the first shot at these jobs. We are going to do everything in our power to make that happen.”

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