School to Work: Higher Education Aids Tyler, TX Workforce
Higher education shapes local labor force
It’s no secret that the nation’s workforce needs are changing with the evolving demands of technology, global economic issues and shifting demographics — and Tyler’s colleges are working hard to meet those needs.
The University of Texas Tyler provides students with classroom experiences stressing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with an eye toward shaping the next generation of workers. Its Innovation Academy, a public charter school, enrolls students in third through 11th grades, teaching them through project-based, hands-on work in robotics, engineering, computers, and more. Classroom projects are often wildly creative, from building a virtual-reality school to designing cell phone apps, all with the goal of graduating STEM college- or career-ready students.
On the growing health-care front, UTT aims to fill the gaps in medical treatment of rural, underserved populations while growing the number of trained practitioners through a new immersive INTUNE Family Nurse Practitioner training program for which it received a $1.3 million federal grant in fall 2017.
“The grant will increase the number of FNP students who practice in the rural/underserved populations, and increase the number of those students who take jobs among that population on graduation,” says Dr. Carol Rizer, program director. “We have already seen many lives impacted by these grant monies and hope to continue as the federal funds allow, since East Texas has a definite need for service to the rural and medically underserved populations.”
Tyler Junior College
At Tyler Junior College, students may choose from a very wide range of educational programs at its School of Professional and Technical Programs, including certificate and degree programs in such diverse areas as game and simulation design, power plant management, professional tennis management, and surveying and mapping technology.
If some of these sound fanciful, in fact they provide leading-edge training much in demand in the real working world. More than 90 percent of those who graduate from the tennis management program — one of just four or five endorsed by the U.S. Professional Tennis Association – find employment. Graduates of the survey and mapping program are in high demand in the oil and gas industry, and game design graduates find sought-after jobs in many computer-related fields. Programs are carefully crafted to meet current and projected needs of business and industry.
“We look at federal and state occupational outlook data to learn where the highest needs and demands will go,” says SPTP dean Dr. Bryan Renfro. “Then we look at local and regional labor market data. All our programs have advisory committees, made up of top professionals in those fields, and they guide us.”
While many classes are taught at TJC’s main campus, its new Energy Center is home to HVAC, automotive and welding programs, and will house industrial maintenance and power plant programs too.
TJC’s Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center, a 150,000-square-foot facility that opened in 2015, offers 15 certificate and degree programs in various medical fields.