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Program to help bridge the skills gap for people new to the construction industry

To help bridge the skills gap for customers new to the construction industry, Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas has partnered with Digital Workforce Academy to provide free certified pipefitter helper pre-apprenticeships.

Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas has partnered with Digital Workforce Academy

The first class is already underway with 15 students and was funded using the Local First donation provided by Golden Triangle Polymers Company, a new facility under construction in Orange County, Texas.

Ten more classes are planned this year in Orange and Port Arthur and are certified by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).

“We're changing the way industry and community come together. These trainees are going to develop skills that lead to a lifelong career, and this helps build the entire community up one family at a time,” said Melvin White, founder and operator of Digital Workforce Academy, the non-profit arm of Golden Triangle Empowerment Center (GTEC).

Local First is an initiative launched in 2023 by Golden Triangle Polymers Company to help residents in the region see and compete for employment. Through the Local First program, the company is collaborating with Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas to prioritize Orange County and the Golden Triangle region first when sourcing workforce for the construction of their new facility.

“Since we first announced Golden Triangle Polymers was coming to Orange County, our goal has been to provide meaningful and sustainable opportunities for local residents. Finding a local educator to upskill local workers is exactly what we had in mind, and we appreciate Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas for making the connection,” said Heather Betancourth, spokesperson for Golden Triangle Polymers.

Golden Triangle Empowerment Center was established in 1999 and has been in Southeast Texas since 2007. They offer a comprehensive learning experience that prepares individuals to succeed in the construction trade industry. The organization also has strong partnerships with maintenance and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractors in the region. Their approach is to increase the capacity of local skilled workers who can enter the construction trades in entry-level trade positions and grow their skills in a registered apprenticeship program.  For more information about GTEC, please visit

PHOTO: (l-r) Caroline Brandon, Digitial Workforce Academy Program Director; Dana Willis, Workforce Solutions Southeast Texas Project Coordinator; Heather Betancourth, Golden Triangle Polymers Community Relations; and Melvin White, Digital Workforce Academy Executive Director.