San Antonio Manufacturers Association (SAMA)

SAMA hosted a Manufacturing Training Program panel discussion on Feb 2, 2022 at the San Antonio Country Club for their general membership luncheon.  Over 100 attendees attended the luncheon with 20 small to medium size manufacturers in attendance.  Panel participants were Rey Chavez, President/CEO, SAMA; Katie Chain, HEB Partner-Public Affairs | Education & Workforce Program – moderator; Leslie Cantu, Assistant Vice President of Administration, Toyotesu , Katherine Sanchez-Rocha, Executive Director, Alamo Academies; and Colin Nichols, Director, Corporate College, Economic & Workforce Development, Alamo Colleges District.

President/CEO Chavez prefaced the panel discussion by stating SAMA conducted surveys between 2020 and now, asking manufacturers what their “hot button” issues are.  The number one issue was the workforce, stating it is difficult to find and hire individuals to fill open positions.

Rey highlighted the panel spoked about the various training pipelines they offered and explain what the differences are between them. They discussed what is in the curriculum, timing for training, and how they can assist your company to find qualified candidates.  SAMA heard the concerns of manufacturers and is proud to provide this panel however, manufacturers must get involved in the programs and take responsibility, invest the time and effort to train, through apprenticeships, either with these programs, or on their own, and upgrading skill sets of incumbent workers for retention.  In most cases, financial assistance is available through local and state workforce agencies.

Ms. Chain reemphasized what their organization is and what training pipeline they have for manufacturers to use for their workforce needs.  Although their programs are medium to long term training pipelines, there is opportunity for shorten timelines.  SAMA leadership and the education committee know it is imperative for manufacturers to know what is available and how to take advantage of them to build or rebuild their workforce – they need these programs in their training portfolios.  Additionally, our panelists highlighted metrics and successes.

Each panelist described their programs and can be accessed through the following links:

  2. Alamo Academies –
  3. Continuing Education Corporate College –

When asked the following questions:

  1. With your training pipeline programs, are there any requirements and/or expectations of manufacturers to know about before hiring a candidate?
  2. What have been the outcomes of the programs, were the candidates hired and how did they do?
  3. How was the curriculum formulated and did it have manufacturer input?
  4. Have the students been vetted before being placed into your programs, meaning aptitude testing to include measurements, communications, and basic life skills?

Each panelist highlighted each manufacturer makes the decision on their students for entry level training programs with exception of Corporate College, their training center on skills upgrade of incumbent workers.  Results of the programs have been highly successful with TXFAME/FAST with an 85 to 90% pass and hire rate and Alamo Academies highlighted 90% of their graduates join the workforce or continue their post high school education. Corporate College emphasized their graduates are already working but become more valuable to their employers.  Each panelist attested their curriculum is coordinated, and primarily comes from the manufacturing industry.  Additionally, all commented all students are vetted.

Colin Nichols highlighted many programs in his corporate college come with financial assistance from local and state entities to help manufacturers with their incumbent employee upskill training needs.  Additionally, he highlighted other programs are available at all levels and include:

  1. Corporate College Training Assessment Center (TAC)
  2. Alamo Colleges Training Institute (ACTI) in Mechatronics
  3. Alamo Manufacturing Assembler Certification (AMAC)
  4. Skills for Small Business Grant (SSB)
  5. Youth Apprenticeship Readiness Grant (Y.A.R.G)
  6. Handshake

Katie Chain highlighted other programs within the community where SAMA, Bexar County and City of San Antonio are working with them to place candidates in apprenticeship programs with all businesses. And include the following:

  1. Alamo On The Job program – no cost to employer program to provide internship opportunities for Alamo College students
  2. SA Ready to Work –
  3. PTECH programs with local area high schools –

In summary, the panel discussion for the SAMA and local small to medium size manufacturers was a huge success, opening doors for companies and students alike.  James Franks, SAMA Chair, stated, “we as manufacturers face a crisis with finding good people, these programs, and the financial opportunities for us to use, are great tools we need to take advantage of to fill open positions.  I encourage you to seriously consider these programs or develop an in-house apprenticeship program.”

For more details about SAMA and the training programs their education committee works with, visit or contact the office at email address: or office phone (210) 979-7530

The manufacturing industry is one of the largest sectors of the San Antonio economy.

This fast-growing sector includes aerospace and motor vehicle manufacturing.
San Antonio companies manufacture machinery, computer components, electrical equipment and more.
From furniture to food and beverage manufacturing, this sector is a major employer in the area.
If it can be made from petroleum, plastic, paper, or just about anything else, there’s a local manufacturer that does it.
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