DFW Airport, DCCCD Create Airport Apprenticeship Program

By Kayla Henson | DFW Newsflash | June 2019

Irving—The DFW International Airport announced its a new apprenticeship program with the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) beginning in fall, will be the first airport apprenticeship in Texas registered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The program will include facility management training and will take place at DFW Airport Headquarters at no cost to employees. Participants of the program will receive certification and an opportunity for college credit. A minimum of seven DFW employees will participate in the one-year program.

“This will continue to show that we want to invest in our employees,” DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue said. “I think this shows how important our partners in the community are and how much value they can derive in helping and partnering with us. We’re really excited about it.”

The program’s immediate partner will be North Lake College in Irving.

North Lake College president Dr. Christa Slejko said the college is looking forward to the partnership and its potential for students.

“We need to get better at these, and we need to do more of them,” Slejko said. “Apprenticeship is coming out of the trades. It’s not just for electricians or plumbers. We can do it in multiple different fields. Facilities maintenance isn’t really an emerging field, and there hasn’t been specific training for this set of work.”

DCCCD chancellor Dr. Joe May said programs like this are vital to the workforce.

“We really think organizations like DFW are so important, because we think this is something a lot of us need to be doing,” May said. “The real challenge we face in education is we can sometimes get disconnected from the needs of employers. Apprenticeships force us to sit down together and really look at what’s best for the needs of the individual and the employer and make that work.”

North Lake College’s proximity to the airport is an added bonus.

“The fact [the college is] so close to the airport will allow us to have some classes here and classes there when we need to,” DFW Airport executive VP of administration and diversity Linda Valdez Thompson said. “It’s a great partnership.”

Thompson feels the DFW region offers a competitive environment for the field.

“At the end of the day, we are a facility that has a lot of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that we maintain,” Thompson said. “That’s really important for our infrastructure to be able to have those capabilities with our employees and have the talent to be able to do that, especially in a very competitive environment, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

Texas Workforce Labor Commissioner Julian Alvarez III believes this apprenticeship program will be beneficial to give young people tangible career paths.
“Every one of your students and graduates are going through these programs already tied to an employer and not hoping that someday they’ll have a job,” Alvarez said. “You’re putting people in careers and not jobs. I appreciate that.”

Regional director for the office of apprenticeship Dudley Light agreed the program will significantly open jobs up.

“We know that with 7 million job openings today, we only have 6 million people out of work,” Light said. “The reason we still have 7 million job openings is we need to upscale our people, that’s a big part of what apprenticeship does.

“When they go through the program, and they end up leaving with an associate’s degree, 80 percent go back to get their full bachelor’s degree, but they continue to work at their occupation. We’re not bad mouthing colleges, but only 16 percent of people who graduate work in the field of their degree, while 100 percent do in apprenticeship programs. It makes a big difference, and we positively affect people’s lives.”