San Antonio.- A taught vocation is making its way back into the local education picture. On Thursday HOLT CAT, the Caterpillar Equipment and Engine dealer for South, Central, North and North East Texas, opened its new ProTech Technical Training Center at the company’s San Antonio campus, at 4748 East Southcross. This $3 million LEED Silver training facility will enhance technical training capabilities in the San Antonio area and across the state.
The ProTech Center features four classrooms, four teaching bays and a 2,100 square foot engine-troubleshooting lab to deliver hands-on learning. In 2012, HOLT ProTech trained more than 2,000 Caterpillar dealer technicians and is expected to train the same amount in 2013. HOLT training attracts technicians from other dealerships located in Texas, North Carolina, California, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama and at least ten other states for courses that last three to five days. HOLT has trained customers and Caterpillar dealer employees from fourteen countries outside the U. S.
“HOLT sees a serious, industry-wide need for skilled workers and this state-of-the-art facility demonstrates our commitment to future growth, professional training and development for technicians,” said Allyn Archer, President and Chief Operating Officer of HOLT CAT.
In addition to the ProTech facility investment, HOLT is investing broadly in vocational/technical training in Texas. HOLT CAT and the Caterpillar Dealer Excellence Fund recently contributed more than $54,000 in support of career development and training of specialized technicians to nine schools across Texas. On Thursday, two recipient schools, St. Philips College and MacArthur High School, received checks for technical training grants that will help support their programs.
Texas Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who attended Thursday’s open house along with State Representative Ruth Jones-McClendon, said that in recent years the education policy pendulum has swung away from career and technical education, and funding for such programs has declined. Many lawmakers are interested in reversing that trend in the upcoming legislative session, she said.
“I am gratified to see we are swinging back to a more common sense approach. Not all students are going to go down the same path and they need real-life choices,” Van de Putte said. “Without the strong voices of HOLT CAT and others in our business community, we cannot craft an education system that meets the needs of a future workforce. Employers know what’s coming around the bend.”
Texas Representative Roland Gutierrez added, “This is yet another affirmation of the outstanding commitment by HOLT CAT to invest in our community and recruit and develop an outstanding workforce."
Unlike vocational programs of yesteryear, today’s technical workforce is highly skilled and requires some level of postsecondary education or training to cultivate the three C’s – critical thinking, creative problem solving and computing.
“This is a very sophisticated business”, said Guy Clumpner, senior vice president of Organizational Development Services at HOLT CAT. “The technical acumen required to be successful in this field requires digital, computer and electronic skills and knowledge, as well as the ability to accurately diagnose and make repairs. Our focus is to hire and develop professional technicians who can build successful careers in one of the most critical areas of our business.”
With about 80 open positions for technicians, HOLT hopes the ProTech Center will help them recruit new skilled workers as well as provide technical training to current and future HOLT technicians and customers. In addition, HOLT is interested in helping strengthen the workforce pipeline through formal education pathways in high schools and community colleges, and supporting a push in the Texas Legislature to allow more time in the state-mandated high school curriculum for vocational/technical classes.
Joe Sandoval is an editor at La Prensa de San Antonio. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.