Texas is the third largest user of H-1B visas, non-immigrant visas designed to allow U.S. employers to recruit and employ foreign professionals in specialty occupations with the US for a specified period of time. The robust technology base of DFW and the continued growth of the technology sector in the region's economy are forcing local firms to search the world for talent due to a critical shortage of skilled labor force.
In April 2012 Workforce Solutions for North Central Texas (WSNCT) and its training partners AT&T, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Labinal, and North Central Texas College (NCTC) responded to the need by applying for the Department of Labor H-1B Technical Skills Training program to address the shortage of skills in the STEM and IT industry sectors.
Funds were used to provide education, training, and job placement assistance in technology heavy industries. The project successfully raised the technical skill levels of American workers in North Texas and, over time, reduced the need for local businesses to use the H-1B visas to find talent.
Project partners leveraged local matching funds totaling $2,770,250 leveraged, 50% of the cost of training provided under the grant. NCTC provided leverage in the amount of $80,344 in non-federal wages for support staff. To insure sustainability of the training programs, the project invested funds to purchase and install a CISCO Training Lab at the North Central Texas College - Flower Mound campus.
The state of the art
CISCO Training Lab at North Central Texas College - Flower Mound campus is a permanent fixture and return on investment for the North Central Texas communities and industry employers to receive advanced training in IT and STEM related occupations. The CISCO Training Lab was designed to host training classes of a maximum of 25 students and it includes a variety of high technology equipment to meet the training needs of changing times.
As of December 31, 2015, 140 long-term unemployed, and 6,454 incumbent workers and new hires employed by project partners received training to upgrade skills and reduce dependence on foreign workers resulting in 9,415 industry recognized credentials and certifications. The grant funded project will close out in April 2016. The final results of the grant will be evaluated 90 days after the contract period end date.