Texas State Technical College (TSTC) Closing the Skills Gap


Texas State Technical College (TSTC) is changing lives one student at a time thanks to hands-on training designed to meet industry workforce demands.

Step onto TSTC’s North Texas campus in Red Oak, and the school’s positive energy is unmistakable.

From the sleek architecture, gleaming interior, and state-of-the-art labs to the friendly staff, talented instructors, and eager students, great things are happening here.

Opened in 2014, TSTC’s North Texas campus is one of 10 TSTC campuses throughout Texas.

The North Texas campus encompasses 100,000-plus square feet and provides students the opportunity to become skilled in careers including:

With exceptional instructors who are passionate about providing quality instruction to their students, TSTC sets the stage for not only student success, but industry success, as well.

"TSTC was established 50 years ago to help create a strong Texas,” said Marcus Balch, provost for TSTC North Texas. “At the time, Gov. John Connally predicted we would become ‘the most sophisticated technical-vocational institute in the country.’ TSTC is living true to that vision with 10 campuses in Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, Marshall, North Texas, Sweetwater, Waco, and Williamson County.”

Measurable Results

TSTC is the only state-funded technical college system in Texas. But what really sets it apart from other educational institutions is that its funding is tied to student performance in the workplace. TSTC’s value-added funding formula is a seemingly simple but inherently complex system that has drawn national attention due to its unique methodology.

Essentially, the TSTC system’s state funding is based on graduates’ average earnings above minimum wage and the system’s economic value to the state. TSTC is the only college in America to adopt a funding model based entirely on student employment outcomes. This aggressive approach has resulted in a collective campus mindset geared toward not just graduation, but jobs and well-paying jobs, at that.

In fact, the college system is so confident in its students’ job placement rates that it offers a money-back guarantee if students do not find a job within six months of graduation. The premise is simple: get a degree, get a job, or get a refund.

The Money-Back Guarantee, or MBG program, applies to five of the system’s associate degree programs including Diesel Equipment (Heavy Truck, John Deere Construction & Forestry, and Off-Highway), Electrical Lineworker, Electrical Power & Controls, Instrumentation, and Welding.

TSTC is one of only a handful of colleges in the United States offering a money-back guarantee for certain degrees and is thus far the only college in Texas to do so.

Meeting Employer Needs

TSTC’s instructors are a key component of the college system’s success and are instrumental in the progress of the students who come from all over Ellis County and beyond.

Well-versed in their respective disciplines, TSTC instructors work with a wide range of students from recent high school graduates and students in their 20s to adults who are upgrading skills.

“TSTC instructors generally are technicians first and educators second,” Balch said. “Many of our instructors have years of industry experience, giving our students firsthand knowledge of the career field they have chosen to enter. Instructors also play a vital role by using their connections to aid in the placement of our students into the workforce. TSTC instructors bring real-world experience to our students.”

This real-world experience is translating into valuable talent for area employers in North Texas, especially those in industries where fast-paced operations are dependent upon a progressive, efficient, solutions-oriented workforce.

According to Kacey Darnell, GCDF, CCSP, and executive director of TSTC’s Talent Management/Career Services in Waco, Texas, TSTC graduates are filling vital positions across a diverse array of industries.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, TSTC graduates with machining, automotive, and aviation skills are employed at companies including Lockheed Martin, Martin Sprocket and Gear, Trinity Industries, KBA North American, Richardson Toyota, Mercedes-Benz in Grapevine, Longhorn Helicopters, Sky Helicopter, Envoy Air and L-3 to name just a few.

Beyond graduating top-notch talent, TSTC also works with employers to provide customized training in the workplace, usually with financing through Texas’ Skills Development Fund. 

Educational Leader

TSTC’s impact is far-reaching and is testament to the power of vocational education and public-private partnerships.

“Indeed, with a statewide role and mission, TSTC is doing what we were created to do,” Balch said. “We are efficiently and effectively helping Texas meet the high-tech challenges of today's global economy, in partnership with business and industry, government agencies, and other educational institutions.”

There is little doubt that TSTC graduates are highly valued by for their work ethic, knowledge, and workplace skills, and they are helping to narrow the modern skills gap.

“Whether a student is considering upgrading their skills, or just starting out on a new career path, one of the many TSTC campuses is a great place to prepare for a great-paying job in the vibrant Texas economy,” Balch said.

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