For those Mineral Wells High School students who will enter the workforce after graduation, Career and Technology Education instructor Bobby Mori asks them if they want to push buttons or push brooms?
Essentially he is asking whether they can push themselves into new challenges and direction.
Mori teaches MWHS’ new Transportation, Distribution and Logistics program that is part of the school’s broad CTE offerings in the fields of agriculture, business, family and consumer sciences, health science technology, and trade and industrial.
In the new manufacturing and logistics program, students can receive production technician and Occupational and Safety and Health Administration certifications that will have them ready to step out of their cap and gown and directly into a career.
Mineral Wells students can also receive certifications in high school for nursing, auto repair, welding and other careers.
Mori said if a high school graduate walks into a manufacturing plant job interview with CPT, OSHA or lock out/tag out certifications and experience with electrical systems, robotics mechanics and tools such as calipers, micrometers and torque wrenches, they will have a leg up on applicants who don’t have that knowledge and skill sets.
“If you can do lock and tag out, and turn on and off this machine, then you are way ahead of the game,” said Mori. “The CPT certification is going to allow you to get into any manufacturing sector job and be able to go in there and have more credentials than the guy coming off the street. This (program) gives you a basic understanding of equipment, how the equipment moves, how they operate, what electronics are involved in working the machine, all of the tools required to either work on it, or take measurements on what you are working. It gives them a general overview of mechanical systems, and pneumatic systems, and pneumatic/mechanical/electrical systems.”
Not only can students perform hands-on training at the various classroom stations designed and used by Amatrol in its global workforce training programs and curriculum, but then can also perform diagnosis and tasks through virtual training online using a specialized software program.
Even if a student going through the course doesn’t go into a manufacturing career, they will still gain a wealth of knowledge about electrical and mechanical systems and how to use tools to make repairs.
“Why is my TV not working? They can test that plug and tell you why and chase it back to the breaker box,” Mori said.
The new offering at MWHS has roots in Envision Mineral Wells and its workforce council, which has a focus on partnerships between schools and businesses to educate, train and develop skilled workers to fill jobs, attract businesses and create career opportunities.
It was the group’s legislative trip to Austin earlier this year that helped lead to the award of a $176,837 Texas Workforce Commission Jobs and Education Training grant to help MWISD purchase and install the equipment to provide 100 students with manufacturing and logistics training.
District Superintendent Dr. John Kuhn said MWISD remains focused on providing students with a well-rounded education and skill sets, including for those who do attend college but are looking to enter the workforce after graduation in areas such as agriculture, nursing, welding, culinary arts, floral design, automotive technology, audio-video technicians, architecture, engineering and now manufacturing transportation and logistics, many with industry certifications.
“CTE is vital for our students because many of them plan to go directly into the workforce after high school,” Kuhn stated. “Our desire is to set graduates who don’t plan to pursue higher education on a path to a high-paying profession so they can support themselves and their families. Plus, local employers need a pipeline of skilled workers to help support their businesses.”
Kuhn said, “We added the manufacturing program based on input from local business partners. In addition to matching our students with local employment opportunities, we hope that our CTE department’s intentional preparation of the local workforce will help attract new employers to our area.”
Brian Saxinger, Cantex’s plant manager, said he was approached over a year ago by Deeann Hampton, another Mineral Wells ISD CTE instructor for, for input regarding development of a new manufacturing and logistics program at the high school.
“I kind of got involved with her,” Saxinger said. “She took what I thought the kids might need in high school to make the transfer into the industry.”
At Monday’s open house for the new program, Saxinger looked over the training stations and was given a demonstration by Mori on what the students learn.
“It’s huge, just to get the basic knowledge coming out of high school and into industry is big,” Saxinger said. “They have a leg up on the competition going into industry, just having basic knowledge of lock out, tag out which is in every manufacturer you go to you are going to come across lock out, tag out.”
Echoing Mori and Kuhn, Saxinger said people with knowledge, experience and certifications have a distinct advantage in the competitive labor market.
“Measuring tools, that a big thing in our industry,” he said. “We use micrometers every day. It is just a measurement of thickness and we use it every day. If they can come in with that knowledge, the learning curve is pretty much cut in half. That’s the whole objective is to expose these young folks (to industry training and knowledge) and who want to make some money coming out of high school.”