Skilled Labor… Ready to Work!

Harlingen has a growing skilled labor force. The agriculture industry used to be the dominant industry, but Harlingen has diversified. Agriculture still serves an important part in the Harlingen economy, but one of the fastest growing industries in Harlingen is the health care industry. Valley Baptist Health System employs over 3,000 medical staff and professionals in Harlingen, and the Regional Academic Health Center has brought more emphasis to the medical industry in South Texas.

South Texas has a strong emphasis on higher education. Texas State Technical College in Harlingen and other major universities in South Texas provide a steady supply of skilled labor experienced in technology.

The job rate in Harlingen, Texas is projected to increase. Harlingen’s location in central Rio Grande Valley has it poised for vast growth as businesses find the advantages to relocating to the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border.

You can find the latest available information and statistics about the Texas economy and labor force in the Texas Labor Market Review (TLMR) from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Training Assistance

Harlingen Training Programs Provide Valuable Workplace Skills

Harlingen, Texas strives to have the best qualified workforce in the United States. To help achieve that, the city has set up several work training programs to introduce eligible workers to emerging technology and prepare them for a new career.

Trainee wages and travel costs are not allowable expenditures. The purchase of production equipment required for the training project of a single employer is also not allowable. However, up to 10% of the total grant may be used to purchase necessary equipment for a consortium of employers.

Skills Development Fund

The Texas Workforce Commission administers the Skills Development Fund program, which provides state funds to directly respond to the workforce needs of Texas employers. When a single business or consortium of businesses identifies training needs, a Skills grant can fund the development and implementation of targeted training through a community college or other training provider.

Eligible applicants

  • Public community or technical colleges
  • Texas Engineering Extension Service
  • Community-based organization working in partnership with one of these institutions.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a federal tax credit used to reduce the federal tax liability of private-for-profit employers.

Employers can hire from 9 different targeted groups:

  1. Qualified Veterans
  2. Qualified Ex-Felons
  3. Qualified Designated Community Residents
  4. Qualified Vocational Rehabilitation Referrals
  5. Qualified Supplemental Security Income Recipients
  6. Qualified TANF Recipients
  7. Qualified Summer Youth
  8. Qualified Food Stamp Recipients
  9. Qualified Long-Term Family Assistance Recipient

The legislative authority for the WOTC Program has been reauthorized until August 31, 2011. Program changes for applicants who begin work after May 25th, 2007 include:

  • Renames the High-Risk Youth target group (D) to Designated Community Residents (DCRs)
  • Increases the age from 18-24 to 18-39
  • Establishes and defines the new Rural Renewal County (RRC) to include 50 Texas Counties
  • Clarifies statutory definition of “individuals under an IWP” relating to Vocational Rehabilitation Referrals target group (E) from the Ticket To Work Program
  • Expands the definition of the Qualified Veteran target group (B) to include “disabled veterans”

Long-Term Family Assistance Recipients who began work after December 31, 2006 and before September 1, 2011, can earn their employers up to $9,000 if they are a member of a family:

  • That received TANF for at least 18 consecutive months before the hire date or
  • Whose TANF eligibility under federal or state law expired after August 5, 1997 (for applicants hired within two years after their eligibility expired) or
  • That received TANF for at least 18 months, beginning after August 5, 1997, and is hired not more than two years after that 18-month period.

On-the-Job Training (OJT) and Customized Training

On-the-job training and customized training provide unique opportunities for participants who already possess some job-related skills and the knowledge to “learn as they earn.” By participating in training as an employee, the participant not only acquires new skills and knowledge, but also receives the same wages and benefits as current employees in same or similar positions. The employer benefits by being reimbursed for part of the participant’s wages during the training period, while having the services of a full-time employee.

Customized Training further benefits an employer by tailoring a training program to the specific needs of the employer, especially in the area of introducing new technologies or procedures. Training can even be offered to incumbent employees in order to upgrade their skills and knowledge.

Customized Training Eligible Participants

  • Those who, as determined by the Local Workforce Development Board, have not been earning a self-sufficient wage.
  • Eligible employers must commit to hiring and retaining participants who successfully complete their training programs.
  • Employers exhibiting a pattern of not retaining participants are not allowed to continue participating.

The actual terms and duration of the training activities are formalized contractually after negotiations between the employer and the local program operator.


On-the-Job Training focuses on jobs involving the introduction of new technologies, production or service procedures; upgrading to new jobs that require additional skills or workplace literacy; or other appropriate purposes identified by the Board. The employer can be in the public, private non-profit or private sector. OJT provides knowledge or skills essential to the full and adequate performance of the job.

The employer is reimbursed up to 50 percent of the wage rate of the individual for the extraordinary costs of providing the training and increased supervision related to the training. OJT is limited in duration based upon the target occupation for which the participant is being trained, the participant’s prior work experience and the service strategy.