SAN BENITO — This week, several Greyhound students were able to connect what they’re learning in the classroom with advice from professionals in the career field they aim to pursue.

In collaboration with Workforce Solutions Cameron, San Benito CISD’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) Department hosted the third annual Heavy Metal Tour and Manufacturing Forum Thursday and Friday.

From freshmen to seniors, close to 150 students in the Manufacturing and Architecture and Construction career clusters participated in the tour and forum.

“In our efforts to help prepare our students become college and career ready upon high school graduation, we’re excited to be able to offer our students the opportunity to visit and observe real-life manufacturing situations,” San Benito CISD Superintendent Dr. Nate Carman said. “These students have progressed in learning the basics and principles of our manufacturing course to more in-depth skills in engineering electronics and engineering design courses, so to take those skills and learn them in the classroom and see them apply it in the workforce really helps.”

The forum is part of Workforce Solutions Students Empowered to Explore and Develop Skills (SEED) initiative, which aims to help facilitate opportunities for career exploration and job readiness for students across Cameron County.

During the forum, six representatives from local manufacturing companies gave career advice to the students.

“You have to stay focused and positive,” Jesse Sauceda, President of Saucedas Precision Grinding, Inc., advised the students. “You also have to have a desire to succeed, dream big and challenge yourself.”

On-site visits

As part of the two-day program, Thursday, San Benito CISD students visited local manufacturing companies such as Saucedas Precision Grinding, Inc. in San Benito and Penske Logistics in Los Indios.

According to San Benito CISD officials, participants were able to witness the companies’ state-of-the-art facilities and learn about the production process, final manufactured products and future job opportunities.

“It was a great opportunity for them to be able to learn more about manufacturing and get that experience,” said San Benito High School Principal Maria Isabel Marichalar-Solis. “This brings connection and relevance to students and shows them that the skills they’re developing in school are going to be beneficial to them in the real world.”

Outlook of the career

According to Julian Alvarez, a Texas Workforce Commissioner Labor Representative, high-skilled workers such as manufacturers have always been in high demand.

“For the past two years, manufacturing has outpaced other industries in the state as far as job growth is concerned,” Alvarez stated in a video presented to the students during the forum. “As a Harlingen native, I have witnessed a tremendous impact that the manufacturing boom has had on the Rio Grande Valley.”

Alvarez said the manufacturing sector has grown at rates as high as 8.2 percent and wages are increasing.

According to him, the average weekly wage for an individual in the manufacturing sector is now more than $1,000, which amounts to $52,000 a year.

“Manufacturing in this region is expected to grow another two percent by 2026,” Alvarez said. “It is easy to disregard this data as just numbers, but if you look around you’ll see the impact of manufacturing industry growth — stable, well-paying jobs have led to a sense of security.”

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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

• Workforce Solutions of Cameron and the San Benito CISD Career and Technical Education Department had a Heavy Metal Tour Thursday, which allowed the district’s manufacturing and architecture and construction career cluster students to visit local manufacturing companies.

• Additionally, a Manufacturing Forum with a panel of local manufacturing representatives was held yesterday at the San Benito High School.

• To view a video of the entire Manufacturing Forum, visit https://tinyurl.com/y2g8gs3c.