Houston Community College has broken ground on a new 17,220 square-foot workforce training center just west of the existing HCC Alief Bissonnet campus.

Dr. Zachary Hodges, HCC Northwest President, opened the groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 8 with remarks about the importance of developing skilled workers to fill jobs in the Houston area and helping students learn a trade so they can go to work.

The new $2.5 million Alief Career Center, opening in 2014, will house office and conference spaces, as well as classrooms and shops to prepare students heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), electrical and plumbing careers. The center will serve students from Alief ISD Elsik and Taylor High Schools who will commute to obtain certificates in these trades, as well as adult continuing education students attending in the evenings.

“This is the first time that our college will offer manufacturing programs. We are committed to providing programs on our campuses that put people to work in areas that Houston needs most,” said Hodges.

HCC-Bissonnet-Campus-groundbreakingThe Bureau of Labor Statistics projections for 2010 to 2020 show HVAC, electrical and plumbing jobs growing faster than the average due to construction demand, retirement of more experienced workers and stricter environmental laws.

Brian Burks, Director of Services for the International Management District, underscored Hodges’ remarks about the importance of learning a trade with a personal anecdote. Coming from a family of skilled tradespeople, Burks said they encouraged him to learn a trade as well. He said earning his welder’s certificate was his ticket to a four-year college. The new Alief Career Center will provide a similar opportunity for many underprivileged kids in the community, he said.