It took one Facebook post to turn Andres Garza’s life around with a new career and financial security.
The 22-year-old is part of the first graduating class from the newly introduced Commercial Roofing Pre-Apprentice program at Texas Southmost College.
This program was designed in collaboration with industry partner Schwickert’s Tecta America, a leading Midwest roofing and mechanical systems contractor, that helped create curriculum and provided instructors and industry-standard training equipment and tools.
“While scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post about a commercial roofing class and looking to add to my welding skills, I decided to try it,” said the Brownsville native. “I still can’t believe all the program has offered me. It has given me a future I never thought I could have.”
Garza is one of eight students who completed the two-week course and has been hired by Schwickert’s Tecta America in Mankato, Minnesota.
In a recent graduation and hiring day ceremony, all eight students were presented with a certificate of completion and an $18 an hour job offer complete with a full benefits package, 401K with match, paid time off and holidays, a $500 sign-on bonus, stipends and per diem pay to help with relocation and travel expenses.
“Smart industry leaders have figured it out,” said TSC Associate Vice President of Workforce Training Joseph Fleishman, Ph.D. “If they want to have a highly skilled workforce, they have to be more proactive in hiring skilled craft workers.”
Fleishman added that the next cohort of 14 students are already hired and have a job. The only questions is, who are those students who want this job?
“Industry coming to TSC and hiring an entire class of graduates while they are still in training has quickly become the new normal,” he said.
Schwickert’s Tecta America Vice President Derek Homrighausen said he is excited to have these TSC graduates join the team because he knows they’re going to make the company stronger.
“I feel like we’ve just hired eight starting quarterbacks,” he told the graduates. “I was in your shoes 21 years ago. You’ve already proven your commitment to learn, and we are committed to you. I can’t wait to see where this opportunity takes you and what kind of story you’re going to write. What a phenomenal program and partnership this is for you and us.”
TSC President Jesus Roberto Rodriguez, Ph.D. said he is proud of the achievement he has witnessed through the TSC and Schwickert’s Tecta America partnership.
“This program is the first of its kind in the nation and these are our first graduates,” he said. “They are opening doors for other students and generations. What they do reflects on us, on this program, and on Schwickert’s and I know they won’t let us down.”
He added that he is proud of the work TSC is doing to diligently meet industry needs and transform the community through innovative education and opportunities.
Executive Director of Workforce Solutions Cameron Pat Hobbs and TSC Board of Trustees Chair Ruben Herrera and former Chair Adela Garza also celebrated this achievement with the graduates.
“We are fortunate to have Schwickert’s look at us as partners,” said Herrera. “And as board chair, I can assure them that we will train the manpower they need and that TSC will have the resources we need to successfully do that. I am grateful to Dr. Rodriguez, Schwickert’s and Dr. Fleishman in making this program possible and congratulations to our graduates.”
As for Garza, although he will miss his family, he is ready to start a new chapter of his life in Minnesota.
“This is a blessing for me and my family. It’s the right step. I prayed so hard to God for this,” he said. “This program has exceeded all expectations and I’m thankful to TSC and Schwickert’s for this opportunity and giving me a chance to prove myself.”
For more information about TSC’s Commercial Roofing Pre-Apprentice program, call 956-295-3724.