Officials with Workforce Solutions Texoma accepted a $100,000 grant toward providing internship opportunities for local students in manufacturing and industrial maintenance Friday in Austin. The grant, which was presented by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, was a part of the Texas Talent Connection program, which seeks to support middle-skills training and internship programs throughout the state.

“He (Gov. Abbott) wanted to offer these internships to help connect high school and college students to our local workforce,” WST Executive Director Janie Bates, who accepted the grant, said.

With the funding, Bates said WST will be able to provide 17 internships to local students in advanced manufacturing and industrial maintenance programs supported by WST and other economic developers. The grant will allow WST to offer tuition for the six-week internship, a stipend for the students, and pay for the cost of state and national examinations.

Bates said the grant runs through August 2019, allowing Workforce Solutions to break the grants into multiple cycles. As there are a limited number of students who are old enough to take on the internships, the program itself will limit the number of students able to apply.

If the first cycle of student internships is successful, Bates said there are opportunities for additional funding in the future.

The grant program, offered by the Texas Workforce Investment Council, a part of the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Division, is in its first year, Bates said. Workforce Solutions was among six workforce boards from throughout the state that collectively received more than $500,000 in funding through this first cycle.

“We know from talking to Texas’ top employers like Samsung that an important factor in business success is a skilled workforce with the technical skills and industry certifications that are in such high demand,” Abbott said in a news release Friday. “We want to connect more Texans to workforce training opportunities so they can advance in high-demand careers more quickly, and we want to connect more employers to work-ready skilled Texans so they can continue to create even more jobs. Today’s announcement is a win-win-win for students, employers and the state of Texas.”

Workforce Solutions was one of two to receive $100,000 in funding. In total, more than $5 million in grant funding will be awarded through the program this year.

“We are pleased to partner with Gov. Abbott on the Texas Talent Connection grant which will offer internship opportunities in high-demand middle-skill STEM occupations,” Texas Workforce Commissioner Ruth Ruggero Hughs said. “Offering employer-led, real-world work experience through internships allows employers to connect with our future workforce and maintain their economic competitiveness.”