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Labor Secretary Visits Alamo Colleges Toyota Program

Joey Palacios
TPR News
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez (center) listens to Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie (right) as participant Sarah Escobar watches.

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was in San Antonio this week to see the progress of a partnership between the Alamo Colleges and Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

St. Philip’s College houses the Toyota Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program. Students who are accepted into the program get jobs with Toyota while in school.

19-year-old Sarah Escobar, a maintenance technician, started the AMT program in high school and already has a certificate before finishing her two year degree. She said she plans to stay with Toyota while finishing a bachelor's degree.

“Upon competition we are provided with job security and stability because we’ll have already done the curriculum that Toyota provides for us,” Escobar said.

She also receives $30,000 as a working scholarship. The AMT program was spurred by funding from the Department of Labor. Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie said it’s designed to fill a niche market of professions.

“Toyota has had a real difficult time trying to find people with the broad-based skills to do what they call the 'maintenance work' -- that’s around robotics and fluid mechanics,” Leslie said.

Shortly after touring the program, Perez said he would like to see apprenticeship opportunities double over the next five years.

“There are many pathways to success and employers need more skilled trades, workers have opportunities and that’s why we’re providing a wide menu of options for people to punch their ticket to the middle class,” Perez said.

He added that while many students may be encouraged to attend a traditional four-year university that may not be the answer for everyone.