Alumni Profile: George Ochoa

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LoneStar_George_OchoaMachining occupation to grow by 37 percent

Although George Ochoa had worked as a machinist for more than eight years, he still had trouble finding work because he lacked the proper training certification.

After being turned down by several companies, Ochoa visited the Texas Workforce Commission who told him of a program at Lone Star College that would not only train him, but help pay for that training thanks to grant funds he received from Accelerate TEXAS.

“I honestly had no idea there was a program like that,” said Ochoa, a single parent who was struggling to balance kids, their activities, cook meals all while looking for work. Still, the thought of going back to school seemed daunting.

Machinists continue to be very much in demand – the Texas Workforce Commission predicts that the growth for machinists will grow by 37 percent from 2012-2022. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Texas leads the nation with the highest employment level for machinists who can earn an annual salary of $38,670 after receiving their Machinist 1 Certificate.

“The scariest part was thinking that I had to go back to school. How would I do?” said Ochoa. “But I think that’s where the instructors made it easier and more comfortable. They truly enjoyed their jobs. My first instructor said ‘if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, then don’t do it.’”

The support Ochoa received not only came from his instructors, but his fellow students. “We try to encourage each other because it’s a team effort. Yes, you are one machinist working on one machine, but all the machines have to manufacture a part that is going to come together” said Ochoa.

To people who are struggling to find a job Ochoa offers this advice: “Don’t be discouraged like I was. Don’t let the day to day monotony get in the way of thinking you don’t have the time to do this because you can find the time. This is not a want thing; this is a need thing.”

Ochoa completed his training in April and started his job with Elliott Turbine, which operates a global network of full service, ISO-9001 certified repair shops for different types of turbomachinery.

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