Workforce Solutions ramps up outreach with positions

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Bryan Petty demonstrates an industrial printer at Denison Industries in this picture from 2018. Workforce Solutions Texoma plans to recruit two outreach specialists to tell students about potential careers at area industries.

Jumping into the workforce can be hard for students and young adults. Through the help of two new outreach specialists, Workforce Solutions Texoma is working on a new way to help educate students about locally-available jobs and what they need to do to pursue them.

The new program comes as the workforce office wishes to focus on recruiting for high-demand industries and training programs for these career paths. In previous years, other resources focused on these areas, but they have since ceased.

"We are going to hire two people who will be assigned to the local high schools and middle schools in our region," WST Executive Director Janie Bates said. "Their job is to go into the schools, meet with the kids and to talk with them about careers and talk to them about what education is required for those careers."

Under the new program, the two outreach specialists will go to high schools and middle schools in Cooke, Fannin and Grayson Counties to  talk with students about future career plans. Bates said it is important to start this effort early as students are required to pick a career track starting with the ninth grade.

The new positions will act similarly to a previous outreach position that was under Grayson College and worked specifically with the Advanced Manufacturing Program. However, the new positions will not specifically recruit for GC, Bates said. 

"We will have them giving information on the advanced manufacturing program, of course, because that is very near and dear  to Sherman and Denison, she said. "Other than that, their focus will be looking at the targeted positions in our area and talking about that while also talking to them about the resources that are out there."

The previous outreach specialist has since left the position, Sherman Economic Development Corp. President Kent Sharp said. Recruiting for local jobs also took a hit in 2020 with the  COVID-19 pandemic. With the change to distance learning, the advanced manufacturing program lost many of its students who were no longer able to receive hands-on lessons. Now, area interests will have to renew and restart recruitment.

"This program is coming at what I feel is an opportune time because we have students next fall that we will be working with who won't have as much access to labor information as previous years of students have," Sharp said.

The new positions represent a partnership between WST and SEDCO and the Denison Development Alliance. The two economic developers are expected to assist in funding the two positions for the next two years.

This week, SEDCO signed an agreement in which it will contribute 26,562 for two years. The DDA has yet to formally accept the agreement, but DDA President Tony Kaai said he will be recommending it to the board of directors in the near future.

"As long time partners with Workforce (Solutions Texoma) and SEDCO, I have been in the development process of this item," Kaai said.