Brazos Valley workforce education reps ask D.C. lawmakers for more funding, local control

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KBTX) - "Carpentry, plumbing, electrical, HVAC..."

Blinn College President Mary Hensley says the list of workforce training programs needed in the Brazos Valley goes on.

Despite the variety, Hensley says there's one thing workforce development programs have in common.

"Most of them are very specialized," said Hensley. "They require specialized faculty, specialized facilities and specialized equipment. They cost a lot of money."

Now, a delegation of Brazos Valley education representatives are in Washington, D.C., on behalf of the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce, asking for that money.

"D.C. is very key in terms of funding structure," said Sylvia McMullen, another delegate traveling with the Chamber.

McMullen is with the Research Valley Partnership, a group that's been vocal about the need for more skilled workers in the BCS area. She says, it's about letting communities decide for themselves what they need.

"We need funding streams that are more aligned with what we need in each individual state," McMullen said. "And each individual state is different."

McMullen says this money can be anything from grant dollars to help students pay for workforce education to research funding that will change the face of skilled labor altogether.

"So we can teach the skills to say, 'Okay so now we're going to build the robots that are actually going to do this,'" said McMullen.

Texas A&M University representative in D.C. Trudy Bennett says she thinks lawmakers will recognize just how important this issue is.

"Hopefully we will see some significant results from the trip," Bennett said.

Locally, Texas A&M and Blinn are working together to build the RELLIS campus, which college leaders say will bring more workforce training to the Brazos Valley.