DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Uber’s planned expansion into Dallas is a major victory for the city, but the win took more than tax breaks.
The company admits they were looking for talent.
“What it tells me is that it’s working,” says Nithya Govindasamy, DISD’s Director of Workplace Learning for P-Tech and Early College Programs. “All of the efforts from the district, and the intentional approach we’ve taken to ensure businesses will have access to ready, credentialed, tech ready students when they graduate.”
In the never-ending fight to lure businesses to the area, it’s the part of the sales pitch that may not make the headlines, but advocates have long argued that an educated workforce is critical to growing the local economy and those seeds are planted in area classrooms.
“Eventually I want to become a network administrator, design networks for companies,” says Daniel Renteria, a Senior in the P-Tech program at DISD’s Pinkston High.
Renteria says he always wanted to go college, but just wasn’t sure how he would make that happen. Now, he’s on track to graduate high school next year having also earned an associate’s degree, tuition free. He’ll be the first in his family to earn a degree. “They’re very proud and excited.”
So are district administrators who see Uber’s planned expansion in the city as validation of years long efforts to expose students to high tech careers, and provide the classroom instruction that will enable them to pursue them.
“One of the main focuses of the program is to making sure we are aligned with what business and industry is telling us they need,” says Govindasamy.
P-Tech stands for Pathways to Technology Early College High School.
Now, operating at 18 DISD campuses, students can earn up to 60 hours of college credit, tuition free. Relationships with industry partners provide mentors, exposure and those workplace ‘soft skills’ that help turn jobs into well paying careers.
“It brings a lot of hope to our community,” adds Eber Perla, DISD’s Collegiate Administrator for Pinkston’s P-Tech program. “Pride in the sense that our educational program is doing right by our families.”
While much has been made of the tax breaks used to lure Uber to Deep Ellum, an Uber spokesperson tells CBS 11 “Our decision was primarily driven by the depth of the Dallas labor market for the types of talent we are looking to recruit.”
While it may be a while yet before they’re ready to submit a resume, student advocates say the big name expansion is encouragement, and a reminder of why they’re working so hard to access those opportunities.
“It’s really important for students to have a view into their future so they can stay motivated and excited about those opportunities,” says Govindasamy. “This program allows them to see far out into the future, why they’re doing the hard work, because they can eventually, when they’re ready, have those opportunities.”
As for the Uber expansion?
“I think it could bring a lot of jobs to Dallas,” says Renteria, “they’re going to need to expand the network over here in Dallas.” And when asked if Uber might one day need to tap into his tech skills, Renteria didn’t hesitate: “Hopefully!”