Corsicana Daily Sun
March 6, 2014
by Janet Jacobs
Corsicana — On Thursday, the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Advisory Board, chaired by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, approved approximately $5 million in grants to help 18 public junior colleges and technical institutes purchase technical training equipment.
Navarro College received the largest grant of all, at $350,000, to go towards equipment for the certified welding program.
“We’re so excited,” said Judy Cutting, dean of business, professional and technical education for Navarro College.
This is the eighth round of JET grants and the third time Navarro students have benefited from the program. In 2011, Navarro got about $244,000 to equip the welding program on the Corsicana campus. This money will go towards equipping the welding program on the Fairfield campus, the Career and Technical Center, there.
“That’s what the Round 8 JET grant money will be used for, to get that program to the same level, equipment-wise, that our Corsicana program is at,” Cutting said.
Navarro students will learn different types of welding, as well as how to read blueprints, fabrication and layout, and other aspects of commercial welding.
“This is just a fantastic thing for the region, to have two welding programs,” Cutting explained. The Corsicana welding program is so popular that it often fills up. Having a second program in Fairfield will allow even more opportunities for students.
“To be able to have this extension in Fairfield is a wonderful thing for the region because we’ll able to train that many more students,” Cutting said.
Navarro was notified by phone of the grant award around noon on Thursday.
“These grants will help students get hands-on training in a range of occupations that are vital to the state’s continuing prosperity,” Combs said. “We have diverse economic sectors that require technical skills for which our workforce needs to be trained. The grants approved today cover equipment in programs such as the oil and gas sector, manufacturing, healthcare and mechanics.”
During the last legislative session, lawmakers appropriated $10 million for equipment grants. Following today’s round of grant approvals, a request for applications for the remaining $5 million is expected to be issued within the next month.
The JET grant program for equipment began in 2009, and approximately $16.7 million has previously been awarded since it began.
In 2012, Navarro received $150,176 for the geological and petroleum technician program. In 2010, Navarro got $243,808 for the Industrial Welding Certification Program Equipment.
The JET program was started in 2009 by the Texas Legislature with $25 million to meet the demand for skilled technical workers. There are three categories: Equipment, nonprofits and scholarships. In 2013, the legislature added another $10 million to the equipment and training grant portion of the program.
Navarro qualified for the equipment grants.
The need for the Job Building Fund comes as state funding lags behind demand in an era of rapidly increasing enrollment in community colleges. According to the Texas Comptroller’s 2008 Texas Works report, nearly 570,000 students were enrolled in Texas public community colleges in 2007, about 39 percent more than in 1997. Adjusted for inflation, state spending per community college student fell by 17.8 percent from 1997 to 2007.