by Samantha Smith
With advanced job markets available to Central Texans in the 21st Century, many people opt for an academic education at a four-year university in order to remain competitive.
But when a person’s car breaks down or their plumbing backs up, people aren’t going to call a person with a Ph.D. in psychology to fix it.
They’re instead going to call a mechanic or a plumber, someone who has been specially trained for the specific job.
While it’s easy to overlook those careers until their skills are needed, there are still avenues that will properly train and prepare people for careers in welding, electrical, a/c and heating, plumbing, automotive mechanics and so many more.
One such place for training trade skills in Hays County is Gary Job Corps, located in San Marcos.
Randolph Goodman, Business Community Liaison for Gary Job Corps, said that trade skills are vital to our economy.
Gary Job Corps, which has been around for 52 years, has trained millions of people across the nation in vocational skills, Goodman said.
“We have academic institutions all around, but what happens when someone with an English degree needs a house built? He has to find someone skilled in that trade,” Goodman said.
Gary Job Corps is a vocational training school for men and women ages 16 to 25. They offer training in areas such as plumbing, electrical, welding, as well as some academic classes for students interested in getting their GED.
Goodman said depending on a students aptitude level upon entering the Corp, and the vocational program they are interested in, training can take anywhere from six months to two years to complete.
According to Goodman, Gary Job Corps also organizes work-based learning or apprenticeships for their students in the nursing field, plumbing, and electrical fields.
Goodman also said that Gary Job Corps students were responsible for pouring the concrete for the base of the windmills in Kyle.
In addition to the fast paced training schedule, Goodman confirmed that people who graduate from Gary Job Corps in these trade skills can expect a state-mandated minimum salary of $8.60 per hour.
Certain trades, like welding, can offer job opportunities with railroad companies, which can pay around $30 per hour.
All job corps graduates in their field can expect the same benefits as anyone else in a full-time career, such as health insurance and retirement planning, according to Goodman.
An education in a vocational trade can open many more doors for individual growth and opportunity, Goodman said.
One example is MaryAnn Gamble, a family physician at Austin Regional Clinic Kyle/Plum Creek, who graduated from Gary Job Corps as an electrician.
Goodman said Gamble worked in that field for a while until she decided to go into the Air Force.
When she got out of the Air Force, Gamble decided to go to medical school and became a physician.
Goodman recalled when Gamble first arrived at Gary Job Corps with her high school diploma.
“She said she was living in her truck before she came to Gary Job Corps,” Goodman said.