Workforce Solutions Cameron hires new executive director

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Rafael Vela

Workforce Solutions Cameron has a new executive director, Rafael Vela, though former longtime executive director Pat Hobbs is sticking around as CEO for the time being, at the WSC board’s request, to show Vela the ropes and help make for a smooth transition.

The board hired Vela on Sept. 28. Hobbs, who served 13 years as the organization’s executive director, reviewed the 26 applicants for the job and selected two finalists for the board to vote on. He said he’ll “exit stage left” once he’s gotten Vela up to speed on what the job entails.

Hobbs said his contract is through Dec. 31 though he’ll stay as long as he’s needed. He described WSC as “the employment office for everyone,” offering free services to match job seekers with available jobs.

“For some levels of jobs people tend to gravitate toward ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn and those kinds of things for the higher level jobs, but for the majority of the jobs, our Work in Texas platform is a job-matching platform that works for most people,” Hobbs said. “Plus we’ve got offices all over the county that will deal one-on-one with people.

“It’s not all internet-based. It’s face to face. We try and keep up with new companies coming in, current companies expanding and so forth, just to keep as many people employed in the county as we possibly can.”

In addition to job matching, under the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, WSC clients can receive support services, child-care assistance “and just lots of stuff that the others don’t,” he said.

“It’s something everybody ought to look into before they go out and pay ZipRecruiter to find them a position,” Hobbs said.

WSC and especially its one-stop centers around the county play a vital role, he said, noting that the agency assists about 17,000 clients each quarter.

“There is an established demand and we’re working it as hard as we can,” Hobbs said.

Pat Hobbs

He added that he has full confidence in Vela’s abilities and dedication and sees “good days ahead” for WSC under his leadership.

“Mr. Vela brings a wealth of knowledge and experience into the public workforce system as a previous member of the workforce board, and appreciation for public service that perfectly aligns with the board’s vision for the future,” Hobbs said. “His experience and ability to unit cross-sectional partners will elevate workforce development to the next level performance.”

Vela, a graduate of St. Edward’s University and brother of former U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, has a passion for and deep connection with Cameron County, and will work with emerging and expanding industry partners to meet their workforce needs while driving economic prosperity for the region, Hobbs said.

WSC is one of 28 local workforce boards throughout Texas whose primary mission is to “meet the needs of employers and job seekers through locally designed, market-driven workforce development initiatives and services,” he said.