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Manufacturing students' work shown off to US Secretary of Labor during San Antonio visit

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh got a view of the work done by St. Philip’s College students in their aerospace and manufacturing labs.

SAN ANTONIO — The United States Secretary of Labor was impressed with his visit to San Antonio to discuss workforce training.

Secretary Marty Walsh got a firsthand look at the training and its results at the St. Philip’s College manufacturing and aerospace training sites, where one teacher was eager to show off his student’s work.

“After my time here at the school, I ran my business, my manufacturing company, the school called me to come back,” Ray Flete says he is eager to train the manufacturers of the future.

Flete says he is teaching his students the basic aspects of production, so they can go from manufacturing by hand to using high-tech CNC machinery. Flete had the chance to show off his student’s machine work during the tour on Monday.

“We take young students fresh from junior high school and put them into a program. We also take older learners and integrate them together into a manufacturing powerhouse that’s St. Philip’s College,” Flete said.

Secretary Walsh touted the success of the college and San Antonio’s Ready to Work Program, which has received more than 5,400 applications.

“10,000 workers roughly a year that come out of the college and into the workforce; you’d be hard pressed to find any other community college in the country with those success rates.” Secretary Walsh says the program is worth replicating and expanding.

“When you have a program like Ready to Work, community colleges that are working collectively together, you have organizations and a mayor, council and congressman committed to it, we should be taking this programs around the country,” Secretary Walsh said.

San Antonio recently received a grant totaling nearly $3 million to the city under the Apprenticeship Building America grant program to increase the number of programs and apprentices that can start careers in many different industries.

Flete hopes that his students can be the solution to the problem facing employers.

“We have so many manufacturers that cannot fill those jobs, and by providing young students the opportunity to graduate with a manufacturing degree at this campus…We’re helping our community here keep manufacturing in San Antonio, Texas where it belongs,” Flete said.

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