In last week’s “State of the City” event, one image spoke volumes about Tyler and its future: cranes on the skyline. Construction is taking place throughout our city — indeed, our region — and that activity is the direct result of good policies and good decisions made in the past.
But one site holds extraordinary promise for Tyler, our students and ultimately our business community. That’s the newly named Tyler ISD Career and Technology Education Center.
The Tyler school board should be commended for its forward-looking vision in proposing the facility, and Tyler voters should be praised for seeing the need and approving the $160.5 million bond that made it a reality in 2013.
The district broke ground on the $33.5 million facility in October 2013. It should be completed and open for classes in 2015.
In his first “State of the City” speech as mayor, newly sworn-in Martin Heines on Wednesday pointed out the need to demonstrate our commitment to education in Tyler.
“We cannot wait for the state or federal government to come up with answers,” he said. “It’s our town. It’s our kids. It is imperative that we come together as a collective community and determine what works for us. What can we do with our human capital to impact our kids?”
The CTE is an example of what can be done. It will not only help alleviate overcrowding in our high schools, it also will provide students who don’t see themselves as college-bound with a reason to stay in school.
And it will provide the skilled workers we as a community will need in the coming years.
Recently, the Texas comptroller’s office estimated 80 percent of jobs in the future will need additional training beyond a high school diploma — but not necessarily a four-year college degree.
“There are good paying jobs available — welders, electricians, pipefitters, machinists — and other skills that are in high demand,” former Texas Workforce Commission head Tom Pauken notes. “And with the proper training, these young people can get hired at entry level positions with starting pay that is higher than that garnered by many university graduates. Plus, those skilled workers aren’t saddled with the massive levels of student debt facing so many of our college grads.”
Those skills are exactly what the CTE will offer to students. We’re not just talking about “shop class” — though as Pauken points out, skilled and certified carpenters, electricians and welders are in high demand. We’re also talking about nursing and health sciences. And the health care industry is the economic backbone of the region.
As Heines said in his address, a community’s future success is formed by good decisions made now.
“It doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “And it is not just a handful of people, but the entire community working together to build a strong, robust, thriving community.”
That’s what we see in the Tyler ISD Career and Technology Education Center. It’s the product of a community coming together, making good decisions and investing in the future.