Welcome to UpSkill Houston’s new Coach Connect newsletter, a bi-monthly email from the Greater Houston Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative. The information, resources and tools below are designed to support the work of career counselors, career coaches and educators who help individuals navigate pathways to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and prosperity.
March/April 2021
Spotlight on Skills
Adaptability: How to Prepare for Changing Workforce Needs
The month of March marks a full year since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our lives and forced us to adapt in new ways in life, at work, and in school. The pandemic accelerated the need for a critical skill that employers and workforce development practitioners identified as essential for workers to succeed as new technologies were adopted in their workplaces. Luckily, adaptability is not an inherent or fixed trait, as venture investor Natalie Fratto explains in her recent TED Talk, "3 Ways to Measure Your Adaptability – And How to Improve it." In her six-minute talk, Fratto describes what she calls an adaptability quotient ("AQ)" and presents actionable methods for improving it:

  • By asking "what if?" questions;
  • Through active unlearning; and
  • By prioritizing exploration over exploitation.

Hiring managers have for years identified adaptability and willingness to learn, along with having a growth mindset, as key traits they seek in new talent because employees could learn to use tools or processes if they came with these traits. In 2019, LinkedIn listed "adaptability" as the fourth most in-demand skill employers needed most in employers. Last fall, the World Economic Forum ranked resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility among the top 10 skills needed for 2025. But as the pandemic accelerated the pace of change in the workforce. it has reinforced employers' need for talent who will be able to adjust to transforming business functions and priorities and who can learn new things. The three takeaways Fratto shares for TED can help career seekers and students raise their AQ and prepare for jobs now and in the future.

Watch Fratto's talk (and view transcripts in 37 languages) on Ted.com.
Industry Insights
Health Care: An Industry of Growth and Technological Change
Houston is world-famous for its health care industry; this includes hospitals, its cancer care, and its research institutions. The industry encompasses 158,000 health care practitioners and technical occupations, of which only 8 percent are medical doctors and almost 38 percent are nurses. The rest – more than half – are other roles with other specialties. And, the industry is growing. According to research from the Center for Houston’s Future and HCA Houston Healthcare, between 2019 and 2036, one out of every four jobs added within the region will be created in the health care sector.

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists, dental hygienists, radiologic technologists and technicians, registered nurses, and surgical technologists are among 29 occupations in health care the Texas Workforce Commission lists as “target occupations” – those recognized as high-growth, high-demand or emerging that are critical to the state and local economies. UpSkill Houston’s career information website UpSkillHouston.org features these occupations including salaries and the education needed to get started.
Technology is changing the health care industry and career opportunities
UpSkill Houston’s UpSkillMyLife.org site highlights more health care career resources and informational “My Life As…” series career videos that highlight for clients and students the various pathways real workers followed to launch their careers. The series spotlights careers in the construction, petrochemical manufacturing and transportation sectors, as well. The site also includes short animations that serve as primers on essential soft skills needed regardless of industry or working environment.

The health care industry and roles within it have undergone great change as new technologies and technological tools have become more widely available for an increasing number of tasks and procedures. The adoption of new technologies and tools – from monitoring systems to surgical robotics – has given rise to new career opportunities within health care and health care facilities. Individuals whose interests, expertise or education align with more traditional IT, engineering, manufacturing or industrial areas can increasingly find opportunities using, servicing or supporting complex medical equipment.
Many professional organizations celebrate career, field and industry weeks to help increase awareness of their areas and career opportunities. Below are resources for students and jobseekers tied to health care awareness weeks.

Health Technology Management: A Growing Field Meeting New Technology Needs
Health technology management (HTM) professionals may not be as recognizable as doctors or nurses, but their work is exciting, well-paid, and critically important for patient care and health care providers.

HTMs (also called biomedical equipment technicians (BMTs)) are responsible for inspecting, servicing, and taking inventory of medical equipment in a hospital or other medical facility – equipment ranging from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners, to surgical lasers and robotic surgical systems, to dialysis equipment, infusion pumps and patient monitors. Hospitals sometimes refer to the field as biomed or clinical engineering.

Mike Urbaitis is the assistant director of biomedical engineering at Texas Children’s Hospital, and his roughly 60-person team makes sure more than 46,000 pieces of equipment function properly, are safe to use and – equally important – have the proper reporting documentation required by industry regulators.

The field is exciting and rewarding, Urbaitis says. HTMs may be called in to an operating room to check on equipment, they may be asked present to senior leaders on the functionality or documentation of equipment, they are constantly learning about new equipment and how to keep it working properly, and they’re paid well, he says. HTMs with Texas Children’s Hospital often develop specialty areas as they gain experience, he says.
Urbaitis says HTMs must have excellent communication skills because they need to be able to talk with every type of worker in a hospital setting from housekeepers to doctors to executives, they need to speak and write compellingly and be able to explain and document all of their work.

Companies that manufacture, sell and service medical equipment, like General Electric, Philips and Siemens, need HTMs too, so career opportunities extend beyond hospitals. According to the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), the medical device industry is expected to grow from $173 billion to $208 billion by 2023, driving up the need for HTM professionals. Urbaitis believes health technology management and related fields in hospitals will grow as health care becomes increasingly technology driven. In addition to the growth, there is near term opportunity because much of the current workforce is reaching retirement age and will be leaving the workforce in the coming several years (more than 20 percent of HTMs who responded to 24x7 Magazine’s 2020 salary survey were over the age of 60; 40 percent were over the age of 55).

Individuals can become HTMs by obtaining a two-year associate degree – as Urbaitis did – but may also be military veterans with specialized experience in medical equipment. Texas Children’s Hospital’s Biomedical Engineering Department includes individuals with associate degrees, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and even doctorates, Urbaitis says.

Many HTMs spend decades in the field, but the career can open the door to other opportunities including project management and risk management, project planning and quality and safety fields. It can also be an entry point into other health care fields, with additional education or training, Urbaitis says.

Houston Community College, Lone Star College and San Jacinto College offer programs or specialties for individuals interested in the field.

Learn more and prepare for Healthcare Technology Management Week (May 16-22) from AAMI.
Coaching Tool Box
Occupational Mobility Explorer: Plan Career Progression Pathways Through Related Skills
The Occupational Mobility Explorer is a new, free and interactive online platform that can help career coaches and their clients without bachelor’s degrees identify viable transitions from lower-wage work to similar – but higher-paying – occupations in the same labor market, or metro area.

The platform features three tools individuals can use to identify opportunities based on transferable skills – knowledge that could significantly change jobseekers’ outlooks and career trajectories.
New career path mapping tool offers insights into viable progressions for workers without a bachelor's degree
  • Build Your Path – Users can see progressive roles that represent at least a 10 percent wage increase and require similar skills.
  • Compare Skills – Users can compare the 25 most in-demand skills for any pair of occupations and identify overlaps. For example, someone in retail sales can see that they may already hold the skills necessary for a sales representative, a related occupation with a significantly higher salary. 
  • View Top Transitions – Users can view and sort data for pairs of occupations that are considered the most similar and represents at least a 10 percent wage increase and only marginal projected growth or decline in demand.

The Occupational Mobility Explorer was built by the Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Cleveland out of research into and analysis of employment in the country’s largest 33 labor markets. Research showed that 49 percent of lower-wage employment could be paired with at least one higher-paying occupation that required similar skills.

Resources & Events to Know
Led by and for employers, UpSkill Houston builds the pipeline of skilled workers to grow the regional economy and provide opportunity for all Houstonians.
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