DALLAS – New opportunities for the next generation of high-tech workers are being created with the help of two state grants totaling $2.5 million, changing the trajectory of students at Dallas College who either want to launch a new vocation or find a more a rewarding career.
As part of a consortium with Tarrant County College and Paris Junior College, Dallas College will create an information technology workforce pipeline across the region from Hunt, Dallas and Tarrant counties. That project recently received $2 million from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).
The award toward upskilling and reskilling students for in-demand jobs aligns technology pathways with the needs of workforce. That means readying more workers for careers in cyber security, information technology and cloud computing, said Gloria Smith, associate vice chancellor for career connected learning at Dallas College.
“This collaboration allows us to shape the workforce pipeline,” she said. “If you look a map, [the] DFW region includes Hunt, Dallas, and Tarrant counties – a huge swath that needs a talent pipeline that will connect individuals to opportunities. This consortium will enhance, develop, align, and implement IT micro-credentials to strengthen course and program offerings across the region. We really want to create a network of services so we can partner with other community colleges, especially those in rural areas.”
Information technology has become one of the most rapidly growing areas of employment opportunities. The DFW metroplex is a major financial and telecommunications hub, so cybersecurity professionals are always highly sought-after in this region to identify, analyze, and mitigate system network threats, she added.
The latest employment income projections for trained professionals entering these occupations are between $40,000 and $50,000 annually.
The second grant is an award to Dallas College of $500,000 from THECB. It will finance a collaboration among Dallas College, the University of North Texas at Dallas, the City of Dallas and Dallas County to develop a public safety workforce pipeline, funding training to certify security officers, 911 dispatchers and basic peace officers with credentials that range from certificates to associate degrees.
Dallas College Chancellor Dr. Joe May, who was instrumental in pushing for the grants on the state-level, expressed gratitude for the funds saying they would also go far to solve some of the challenges brought on by the pandemic.
“Dallas College is looking forward to working with its partners to maximize opportunities for our students who are stymied by economic disparities,” Dr. May said. “Part of Dallas College’s mission is to serve individuals and industries and help close the gap between job readiness and job opportunities. We have a community of individuals who are looking for the right opportunity that will propel them to finding careers that will provide long term financial stability.”
In total, THECB awarded $26 million to 46 schools across the state in the latest release of funding awards. Under the funding agreements, institutions may use these Texas Reskilling and Upskilling through Education (TRUE) Institutional Capacity Grants to rapidly create, expand, or redesign short-term postsecondary workforce credentials and training programs in high-demand occupational areas. THECB is the author of the 60x30TX plan – an ambitious effort to provide 60 percent of young adults in the state with post-secondary credentials by 2030.
“We need to get our Texas students and displaced workers onto a fast track to lasting careers that equip them for greater economic mobility,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Harrison Keller. “We applaud our two-year institutions for committing to this challenge.”