Trade skill training facility offering free courses to help Houstonians get jobs

Nick Natario Image
Thursday, February 29, 2024
How trade skill training facility is helping Houstonians land jobs
TXRX Labs, a trade skill training facility that caught the attention of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, is helping Houstonians upskill their careers.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you're looking to upskill your career and help in case a natural disaster hits, there's a facility in Houston that's offering free classes.

The glow from flame isn't the only thing burning inside TXRX Labs. The students' future is on fire, too.

Since it opened last year, 300 have taken part in free courses, with many of them landing jobs.

One of those is Lionel Ward. "I learned about soldering," Ward recalled. "I learned about welding. I learned how to laser-engrave."

Ward said after the course, he landed a job building ambulances. "When I explained about my soldering level was when they decided, 'Oh, we're going to keep him," Ward recalled.

It's a success story TXRX Labs said more participants are discovering after completing free courses.

"Someone could come in here with little to no experience in welding or electronic technician work, and they can leave with a certification," TXRX Labs workforce director Michael Gutierrez explained.

TXRX Labs was designed not just to help people get jobs but to assist the region.

"If there's a natural disaster, a hurricane, are we going to have folks that can help rebuild Houston faster? Connect them to the building and construction trades," Gulf Coast Workforce Board Executive Director Juliet Stipeche explained.

To help make it happen, JPMorgan Chase invested more than $3 million.

CEO Jamie Dimon wanted to see how it's going. He took a tour this week and spoke to students. Dimon said he believes not teaching kids trade skills in grade school is keeping some from life-changing opportunities.

"Some of the unions do a great job," Dimon explained. "They take these kids, they bring them in, and they teach them all the skills. They're making $60,000, $70,000 a year at 19 years old. Yes, we could do a lot better job."

ABC13 was the only TV news crew invited to tour the facility with Dimon. We talked to him about a number of other issues, including the economy.

"We don't know if it's going to be a recession," Dimon added. "I think people always make a mistake trying to forecast the future. I think the odds of it not being a soft landing are higher than other people. That's just the odds."

Right now, Texans are voting in the upcoming March primary. We asked Dimon if the upcoming election in November could impact the economy. He said normally, presidential elections don't do much.

"Could this one be different? It could be, but it's hard to change an economy when you have 160 million people working every day, 30 million small businesses, 17,000 large ones, huge capital investment, trade around the world, that kind of carries an economy forward," Dimon explained.

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