Best Southwest, TX Area Schools Supply Top Talent
Discover how Southwest Dallas is meeting the needs of job seekers and employers
A solid talent base is a key driver in the Best Southwest Partnership (BSP) region’s success.
Relocating and expanding companies can rely on the region’s network of colleges, universities and technical colleges to supply a steady stream of educated and highly skilled workers. Mountain View College, Cedar Valley College, the University of North Texas at Dallas, Northwood University’s Cedar Hill campus and Texas State Technical College (TSTC) all work with industry to ensure the workforce is equipped with the skills businesses need to thrive.
Cedar Valley College in Lancaster, for example, has broadened the curriculum in its logistics program in response to the distribution and warehousing explosion that has occurred in southern Dallas County and northern Ellis County. Another example is the automotive technology program, which now offers students industry certifications through partners, such as Snap-on and Fiat Chrysler, to meet workforce needs.
“We are also moving in a similar direction in our heating, air conditioning and refrigeration program and meeting the demand in the commercial space of this industry. It’s all about getting students ready for good jobs and careers,” says Henry Martinez, associate director of marketing and public relations for Cedar Valley College.
“We are continuously engaging with business and industry partners in our region to ensure that our programs align with the workforce needs of our community.”
TSTC in Red Oak has trimmed some programs, such as logistics, to put resources toward more in-demand programs, says Marcus Balch, provost of TSTC in North Texas. The college is shifting resources to popular programs, such as industrial maintenance and HVAC. Balch says industry leaders also play a role in those curriculum changes.
“Each program meets with an advisory board made up of industry leaders on a local level and also on a statewide scale,” Balch says.
“We’re constantly getting feedback from those employers about what they’re looking for from a curriculum standpoint and from a skills standpoint. And then of course we have our workforce development team within the college that continually works with partners to provide specialized training outside of our normal traditional college credit programs, such as the associate of applied science degree in the certificate programs."
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The colleges’ ability to quickly adapt curriculum and also offer customized training to individual businesses is a major economic development asset for the region.
Employers also have access to the wealth of talent with specialized skills from the region’s private colleges and universities, including Northwood University’s Cedar Hill campus, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in business, both on campus and online, and Paul Quinn College, the oldest historically black college west of the Mississippi River and the nation’s first urban work college.
Workforce development begins early in the BSP region, with school systems invested in steering students toward career pathways in in-demand fields.
The region’s high school students are able to get a head start on college and careers through dual enrollment programs at community and technical colleges.
Cedar Valley College has a long-established early college program that works closely with school districts to help students not only work on attaining early college credit, but also ensuring their endorsements seamlessly translate into their program of study.
The dual credit partnership between TSTC and Red Oak High School continues to grow.
“(Red Oak High School) is actually just within walking distance, so students can come over during the day for an hour or two and take college courses on our campus. They receive both high school credit and college credit,” Balch says. “We’ve seen a steady increase over the four or five years that we’ve been in North Texas with students that are taking advantage of those opportunities.”