Operating one of the world’s largest and busiest airports would be impossible without the service of committed and skilled employees. Dallas/Fort Worth Airport leadership believes investing in its workforce, which numbers nearly 1,900 full-time employees, is the key to its success.
For decades, DFW Airport has invested in people, training and technology to keep employees, customers and business partners safe from physical, environmental, financial and cyber threats. Thanks to its collaborative work with Tarrant County College, DFW Airport has been able to create a sustainable pool of employees ready to move up and assume more responsibility on the job.
“Our partnership with TCC continues to be strong after 20+ years,” said DFW Airport’s Assistant Chief of Police Jon Taylor. “As a participant in TCC’s Police inservice offerings, I have obtained several certifications throughout my career that include Basic SWAT (1999), PowerPoint for Public Safety (2008) and TCOLE Firearms Instructor. These certifications continue to provide value in my current leadership role and career.”
Since the beginning of the partnership, more than 75 police officers and approximately 50 firefighters have trained at TCC’s Fire Service Training Center at TCC Northwest. Also, more than 300 police officers and roughly 250 firefighters have completed in-service courses. In addition to operating internationally renowned fire and police departments, DFW Airport runs safety and maintenance teams and an immediate workforce that covers everything related to FAA rules.
The growing demand and popularity of TCC’s educational offerings over the years has led to an expansion of the partnership. DFW Airport now is offering its employees customized training in communication, business writing, safety and maintenance, contract management, PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification and project management.
In March and April, four cohorts of 25 students completed a Business Writing course focused on correctly using grammar and punctuation, writing effective messages at work, demonstrating proper email etiquette and much more.
“Being able to provide a unique learning experience always excites me,” said Pamela Perez, one of TCC’s continuing education instructors. “Studies show that students learn best when they have multiple facets incorporated into their learning. If they take an active role and are engaged, they will have a better chance to retain the information.”
Later this year, Perez and other instructors will offer several more courses, including Maintenance Training and Safety and Security Training. The classes will be held in the Learning Room at DFW Airport headquarters and taught by highly skilled TCC instructors.
“Tarrant County College has been a fantastic educational partner over the years, providing training for our firefighters and police officers,” said Linda Valdez Thompson, DFW’s executive vice president of administration and diversity and current member of the TCC Foundation Board of Directors.
This expanded agreement will open new opportunities for our employees across the airport to enhance their professional skills and business acumen. We are proud to invest in the growth and development of our employees and build a stronger DFW Airport workforce.
Linda Valdez Thompson, Executive Vice President of Administration and Diversity, DFW Airport
Nationwide, business organizations spent $1,273 per employee in 2016 on direct learning expenditures, up 1.8 percent from 2015, as cited in the Association for Talent Development’s 2017 State of the Industry Report. Also, the average number of formal learning hours used per employee reached 34.1 hours in 2016, up from 33.5 hours in 2015.
According to Mac Belmontes, coordinator of workforce training for TCC’s Corporate Solutions & Economic Development team, his colleagues understood the importance of helping DFW Airport meet its organizational mission.
“The main goal of TCC Corporate Solutions & Economic Development is to always provide the customized training that businesses need,” said Belmontes. “We’re willing to work with anybody, regardless of size.”
Exactly how did this expanded partnership happen? In 2018, members of the Corporate Solutions & Workforce Development team joined TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini and DFW Airport CEO Sean McDonohue to identify ways to address the airport’s immediate needs. Weeks later, trained TCC instructors met with DFW Airport representatives to design an effective employee training program. Soon thereafter, a letter of intent was established, signaling a new chapter in this business relationship.
“This partnership highlights Tarrant County College’s commitment to help the region’s top organizations develop their human capital and enhance staff development, recruitment and retention initiatives,” said Giovannini.
At any given time, TCC’s Corporate Solutions & Workforce Development team works with approximately 50 clients — businesses, community organizations and industry associations — to develop the workforce the region needs to thrive and grow.
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, partnerships between academic institutions and businesses are nothing new, yet the need to fill critical skill gaps in several industries is great. There are several reasons to spend more money on training people: training opportunities increase retention; training is less costly than replacing talent; regular training is a must for remaining current with industry trends and technologies; and, skills development strengthens teams.
“Companies that invest in their workforce not only motivate employees, but also pave the way to future successes through greater collaboration, stakeholder buyin, as well as increased productivity towards strategy and execution both,” said Charles Walker, diversity recruiting program manager for North Texas LEAD, an organization that attracts and connects top talent to outstanding organizations in the region.
From an employee perspective, it is seen as a value-add to the daily work being done, just being acknowledged and appreciated. Think about it. Would you want to be involved with a company, or any relationship for that matter, that did not invest in you?
Charles Walker, Diversity Recruiting Program Manager, North Texas LEAD