FEATURED: Julián Álvarez, longtime Texas Commissioner Representing Labor on the Texas Workforce Commission, resigned from his leadership role with that state agency effective Thursday, December 15, 2022 to become Senior Vice President and Director of Business Development for Lone Star National Bank.
Photograph Courtesy SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE
“Texas tornado” Julián Álvarez, who championed the needs of world-class workforce, becomes Senior Vice President and Director of Business Development for Lone Star National Bank
Julián Álvarez, a longtime member of the Texas Workforce Commission who represented the interests of more than 14 million Texans, recently completed his leadership role with that state agency to become Senior Vice President and Director of Business Development for Lone Star National Bank, according to the board of directors for the community bank system.
“Commissioner Álvarez, the ‘Texas tornado’, continuously traveled the great state of Texas to champion the needs of the world-class Texas workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “His focus on developing our workforce helped create a robust pipeline of talent for our employers. Congratulations to Commissioner Álvarez on his next step and thank you for your service to our working Texans.”
In addition to business development, Álvarez’ duties will also include oversight of the bank’s community outreach efforts.
He began his duties on Friday, December 16, 2022.
In general, an outreach program aims to help, uplift, and support those who are deprived of certain services and rights. It involves giving learning, social planning, and other ways to build more paths for the betterment of society.
“Julia couldn’t be better suited for this position and we are so proud to have him on our team,” S. David Deanda, Jr., President, Lone Star National Bank President, announced on Friday, December 16, 2022. “He has been a leader at the local, regional and state levels and he can put his vast network to use in order to help our customers.”
Lone Star National Bank, which is one of the 50 largest banks by asset size in Texas, has 33 locations in South Texas, including the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio.
The Texas Workforce Commission is the state agency charged with overseeing and providing workforce development services to employers and job seekers of Texas. TWC strengthens the Texas economy by providing the workforce development component of the Governor’s economic development strategy.
In 2016, Álvarez left his position as CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership when Gov. Greg Abbott appointed him to the Texas Workforce Commission.
Álvarezhad served as the regional chamber’s CEO for three years, from 2013-2016, and then served as a workforce commissioner for the last six years until stepping down effective Thursday, December 15, 2022.
“I may have worked in Austin, but my heart has always been in the Valley,” Álvarez said. “My heart is full knowing I am back home serving the people I love and the communities I grew up in and I am honored and proud to be putting my years of experience to work for a great company like Lone Star National Bank.
“Banks are only as prosperous as the communities they serve, and we take our community outreach and philanthropy efforts to heart because as a community, we can’t move forward unless we move together,” he added.
Álvarez reflected on his public service on behalf of Texas during the period which he was the TWC Commissioner Representing Labor.
“It has been a pleasure to serve as the Commissioner Representing Labor of the Texas Workforce Commission for two terms. I am truly humbled and honored to have been given the opportunity to serve this great state of Texas,” said Álvarez. “I truly have enjoyed the opportunity to develop impactful and innovative initiatives benefitting both our constituents and employers.”
Earlier in 2022, Álvarez was appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by the U.S. Department of Labor. The designation is a recognition from the Department of Labor for commitment to modernizing, diversifying, and expanding Registered Apprenticeship to support the success of American workers, employers, and communities across the country.
He also spearheaded apprenticeship initiatives to address healthcare worker shortages in Texas.
“I’d like to recognize Commissioner Julián Álvarez for his service to Texans,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “His efforts have demonstrated his commitment to the Texas workforce.”
As President and CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, he succeeded in fostering relationships and coordinating programs to advance regional economic development and employment opportunities.
Álvarez also served as the Texas Regional Director for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, advising on legislative and policy issues related to South Texas.
Prior to that, he served on the South Texas Drug Task Force as a State Trooper for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
After his service with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Álvarez, inspired stewardship and leadership as the Director of College Information for Texas State Technical College in Harlingen.
SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE “PUSHES THE ENVELOPE” THROUGH “BOLD AND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS” THROUGH APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING
As one of his most recent visits to the Rio Grande Valley as Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor, Julián Álvarezwas the keynote speaker at South Texas College’s inaugural South Texas Apprenticeship Summit, held on Thursday, November 17, 2022.
South Texas College, together with its partners in workforce, industry and economic development are building a pipeline of skilled American workers that is enabling growth for companies competing in a global economy through Registered Apprenticeship Programs.
Key stakeholders from the private and public sectors agreed that they are at the forefront of “bold and innovative” solutions that are changing the way companies train their workforce.
“To have an internship is one thing, but an apprenticeship where you’re getting paid to go to school while staying in the workforce, finding mentors and getting a credential that you can take with you…all those elements together are a foundation for success,” said Ricardo J. Solis, Ph.D., President, South Texas College.
“This is exactly what apprenticeship programs are doing. We’re putting this at the forefront and we’re pushing the envelope… we’re solving this issue through the workforce,” Solis said. “What a remarkable win-win combination.”
These companies are creating unique partnerships with educational institutions like South Texas College by enrolling employees in apprenticeship programs in order to learn new and marketable skills in a variety of in-demand occupations all while earning competitive wages.
Apprenticeship programs have emerged as the ideal way for companies to train their current employees through work-based learning that meets industry and national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor.
After successfully completing the academic component along with 2000 hours of on-the-job training, candidates then receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship from USDL.
Álvarez, who was recently appointed an Apprenticeship Ambassador by the United States Department of Labor, provided the event’s keynote presentation.
“We’re here to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, but Gov. (Greg) Abbot likes to say we’re celebrating Texas Apprenticeship Week because that’s what we’re doing,” Álvarez said. “We have always been proactive in the approach of how we train folks because of community colleges and institutions of higher ed. What we are doing here needs to be replicated in other parts of the state as far as those important conversations between higher ed, the business community, school districts and nonprofit sectors. We need to continue having these discussions.”
Norma Catalina Olivarez, who was recently commended by the governor for making the transition from a nearly 30-year career in education administration to a career in construction management, participated in a special student panel at the summit.
Olivarez completed South Texas College’s Construction Superintendent Apprenticeship Program and then joined Renoworks, RO Engineering and Quantum-Mechanical Contractors.
“My background is in administration, but I wasn’t familiar with the technical side of construction, so when I joined the Association of General Contractors, I became involved with the apprenticeship program with STC,” Olivarez said. “It actually opened the doors not only through lectures but through first-hand experience when I went to job sites.
“For me, the greatest advantage was when I began talking to other students and understanding their mindset as we discussed construction timelines, managing personnel, contracts and much more,” she noted.
Over the course of nearly two decades South Texas College has seen its role evolve first as a training provider to its current role as a registered apprenticeship sponsor through the U.S. Department of Labor, which enables the college’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing to develop occupations, curriculum and standards that are recognized on a national level.
South Texas College now counts at least 14 registered apprenticeship programs available through the college including everything from professional beer brewing to construction and industrial machine mechanics.
At least eight more apprenticeship programs are currently under development or pending approval from the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Some of our apprentices actually already have master’s degrees in engineering, and they’re coming back and getting apprenticeship training in different areas of construction or manufacturing so that tells you a lot right there,” said Carlos Margo, Ph.D., Dean, Industry Training and Economic Development, South Texas College. “It’s not just a matter of getting a master’s degree and be done. You need to continue evolving and adapting. And I always say, don’t just learn; learn how to do something.”
According to Abbot, more than 21,500 active participants in Texas are currently enrolled in over 650 registered apprenticeship programs, which boast an apprentice completion rate of over 80 percent.
Referencing South Texas College, Abbot said its apprenticeship programs provide “industry-driven, customized training that empowers Texas employers to fill any skills gaps in their markets while developing their own future workforce.”
Álvarez stressed that employers investing in apprenticeship programs experience improved recruitment and reduced turnover, and they gain a pipeline of skilled employees and future managers.
“We’re the only state in the country who does this – work with our higher ed partners and a lot of great things have happened as a result of that,” Álvarez said. “Those in the Valley live in a very vibrant community…LNG, space exploration, these are all happening here in the community. How could we not come to South Texas College during Texas Apprenticeship Week to celebrate this?”
For more information about STC’s apprenticeship programs please visit:
Angela Woellner and Joey Gómez contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).