John Soules Foods partners with TJC for $73,584 job-training grant | TJC

John Soules Foods partners with TJC for $73,584 job-training grant

John Soules Foods, Inc. has partnered with TJC to provide job training for 30 new and incumbent workers using a $73,584 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

The grant will benefit workers in the Workforce Solutions East Texas area.

This grant will be used to provide customized training to 30 new and incumbent workers for industry-related topics with focused instruction on industry-related topics such as hydraulics, pneumatics, circuit analysis, preventative maintenance, Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and industrial safety. Trainees will include electricians, refrigeration technicians, machine and maintenance mechanics, and welders. Upon completion of training, the workers will receive an average wage of $20 per hour.

“What we’re doing today really is economic development at its best,” TJC President Dr. Mike Metke said. “John Soules Foods is one of our largest employers in this community, and TJC is this community’s workforce college. We’re a college of opportunity and we pride ourselves on being nimble and responsive to community needs. 

“Quality of life begins with a good job, and the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity is the mission of the Texas Workforce Commission and it’s ours too. The whole idea of industry-based partnerships centers on best practices, and I think this is a model for it.”

John Soules Jr., co-CEO of John Soules Foods Inc., said that as the company has grown so has its operational complexity. 

“Machinery these days is run by computers, by PLC’s (Programmable Logic Controllers), and there are very few basic, mechanical things anymore,” he said. “Everything is either electronic or pneumatic. Workers have to be able to read schematics and do a lot of things.

The training program through TJC allows John Soules Foods maintenance personnel to gain increased skills for today’s high-tech environment and to return for training as those skills change and need to grow.

“This also gives our employees the base knowledge they need to move up in the company,” he said. “We always prefer to hire from within instead of hiring from the outside. It allows them to make more money, pay more taxes and generate more positive influence for East Texas.

“TJC was instrumental in helping us develop this program,” Soules said. “What a great organization this is and what a great addition to the community in helping to give skills to those who really need it.

“We thank state of Texas and Texas Workforce Commission for listening to us and providing the funds.”

TWC Chairman Andrews Alcantar said, “Skills grants deliver customized training solutions that help Texas employers and workers succeed in the marketplace.

“This investment builds not only employee skills, but the capabilities of our community colleges to the benefit of employers and the community. We are pleased to make this investment.” 

The Skills Development Fund grant program is celebrating 20 years of success as the state’s premier training program in 2015-16.

The fund was initiated by the Legislature in September of 1995 and first began awarding contracts in 1996. During that time the Skills Development Fund grants have created or upgraded more than 329,333 jobs throughout Texas.

The grants have assisted 4,141 employers with their customized training needs. The Legislature allocated $48.5 million to the Skills Development Fund for the 2016-17 biennium.

Employers seeking more information about the Skills Development Fund may visit the TWC website at

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