Nearly $300,000 grant to bolster Pflugerville ISD’s technical training programs

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Pflugerville ISD students interested in becoming firefighters or emergency medical technicians will soon have access to more state-of-the-art technology and training.

The Pflugerville Community Development Corp. announced July 11 a $150,000 grant to PfISD in tandem with a matching Workforce Solutions Capital Area grant. The combined approximately $300,000 grant provides additional funding for the district’s Emergency Medical Technician academy.

“This grant match is the type of dream I’ve had since I served as a commissioner on the ESD board and was voted on City Council,” Pflugerville City Councilmember Rudy Metayer told Community Impact Newspaper. “Given the finite amout of resources we have, it makes sense. And in the end, this benefits all of the people that we serve and makes our own community stronger.”

The program, run by the Texas Workforce Commission, promotes collaboration between local workforce development boards and economic development corporations to bolster trade programs. PfISD works alongside the Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2 to offer training classes for high school students to gain technical knowledge and become certified emergency medical technicians and firefighters.

“This is the perfect time to grow that program and expand that partnership,” PfISD Superintendent Doug Killian said during the July 11 announcement.

Tamara Atkinson, CEO of Texas Workforce Solutions Capital Area, said this is the organization’s first time collaborating with the PCDC in this capacity, adding the mission of WSCA is to help partner “local people, local students, to local jobs bolstering our economy.”

The EMS academy, with more than 30 students enrolled for the coming academic year, has tripled in size since its inception three years ago, said Traci Hendrix, director of PfISD’s career and technical education. She said grant funds administered by the PCDC will help provide work-based learning.

Students refer to the training as “real world skills,” Hendrix said, and lessons incorporate industry-standard equipment into their technical training, such as simulation mannequins. With the PCDC’s expressed interest to renew and potentially expand the grant in the future, Hendrix added she is confident the program will continually grow over time.

“If we grow, say, 10% a year, I think we’re doing pretty well,” she said.

Rob Humphrey, human resources director with Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2, said one of his central goals with this grant is ensuring that through this program, Pflugerville can continually recruit future firefighters and EMS technicians who best reflect the community.

“The fire district is focused on the makeup of the district and taking care of individuals on their worst days, and we want it to look and feel like the individuals in our community,” Humphrey said.

Through the current high school training program, students graduate with one of two certificates required to become certified EMTs, Humphrey said. Finalized certification is earned through the fire district’s internship. As the program develops over time, he added he hopes to have high school students complete both certifications and be able to immediately enter the industry upon graduation.

The grants will help elevate PfISD’s EMS academy, both in the number of students enrolled as well as the educational technology used, Hendrix said.

“Our community has always been able to provide a strong pipeline for companies that are existing here, or growing here, or relocating here,” PCDC Executive Director Amy Madison said. “In order for us to keep that pipeline full, we need to make sure that we’ve got the kind of employees out there that are available to them, and training is the first step in that process.”

Madison added when the PCDC first heard about the High Demand Job Training Program grant in 2014, it became a priority of the corporation to assist in providing students from Pflugerville with the necessary resources to enter the city’s technical workforce.

The PfISD program, in conjunction with the city’s emergency services district, will begin its third year in the coming 2019-20 academic year.

“This effort couldn’t have happened without the collaboration,” said Robert Andrade, with Texas Workforce Commission. “This is great to do it in my backyard.”

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Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from upstate New York, Kelsey relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.
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