Offering pre-apprentice dual credit courses can benefit schools and employers alike. For schools introducing career and technical education (CTE) programs, they can gain industry input and guidance from career professionals. For participating employers, they have the opportunity to help guide the next generation of skilled workers.

Electrical contractor TRIO Electric offers a pre-apprentice dual credit course at no cost for students who want to become the future electricians of Austin. The program is entering its third year at Navarro Early College High School and its first year at Travis Early College High School in Austin Independent School District (AISD). The course is part of a partnership between electrical contractor TRIO Electric, Austin Independent School District and Austin Community College.

Participating in the program for its second year is Premier North High School in combination with Premier Pflugerville High School. The Premier schools are ResponsiveEd public charter schools offering credit recovery programs.

TRIO hosted three virtual commitment ceremonies in January for newly participating students: 31 at Travis ECHS; 33 at Navarro ECHS; and 11 students from Premier.

Christina Steele-Hantgin, principal at Travis ECHS, said “You guys are pioneers, and you are building a legacy that will last long after you graduate high school.”

The program teaches students how to be safe, productive and skilled electricians as well as other employable and soft skills. The students attend the TRIO Pre-Apprenticeship Program virtually and safely in-person at their schools, where TRIO has built labs for the students.

Shelia Henry, Executive Director of High Schools at AISD, said, “You have made an investment into your own future. You are making grown men and women decisions about what you will do next in your lives. I wish you success!”

The dual credit courses, through Austin Community College (ACC), include Basic Electrical Theory, Introduction to Electrical Safety and Tools, Calculations, Construction Engineering Technology and Commercial Wiring. The ACC coursework will lead students to a Level 1 College Certificate, which crosswalks with the Texas Education Agency’s Electrical 1 and 2 requirements.

“Our partnerships go beyond just helping our students—we want to help you build a pathway,” Natalia Almanza, Manager of High School Careers Program at ACC, said.

“This program will lead you into a career where you can work your way into becoming a leader at TRIO and at the same time you can choose to work to earn money for college.” Beau Pollock, President and CEO of TRIO Electric

The program will offer learning outside of the classroom as well. Students will visit jobsites to observe electricians completing work, and can accept TRIO’s offer of paid full-time internships in the summer.

Beau Pollock, President and CEO of TRIO Electric, said, “You were told when you enrolled that if you worked hard, TRIO will extend a job offer to you upon graduating high school. This program will lead you into a career where you can work your way into becoming a leader at TRIO and at the same time you can choose to work to earn money for college.”

Elaine Diaz is the Education Instructor for TRIO and has 20 years of experience working in the skilled trades.

“I became a teacher when I started at TRIO Electric. I felt really comfortable with it, being that throughout my career I have worked with many first-year apprentices,” Elaine said.

“You are students in a unique position—the entire country needs trained electricians, and you will be trained to become great electricians. I wish you courage, strength and wisdom in your future as electricians,” said Elaine.

Julian Alvarez, the Commissioner Representing Labor for the Texas Workforce Commission, said, “You will be attending school but also receiving on-the-job experience through paid internships and finally paid employment. The commit you are making today will provide you with the knowledge and expertise that will carry you for a lifetime. Congratulations to the next future workforce of this great state of ours!”

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