November/December 2021
Employment Forecast Positive for 2022; Commitment to Workforce Development Critical
Greater Houston’s labor market has gained significant ground over the last year and is projected to recover from the effects of COVID-19 within the next year. The Greater Houston Partnership forecasts the Houston region will create 75,500 net new jobs in 2022, with employment gains expected in every sector.

Factors that will support job growth in the region next year include the ongoing U.S. expansion, robust global trade, energy consumption returning to pre-crisis levels, pent-up consumer demand, and local population growth. The forecast warns that recovery will continue to face headwinds, including elevated inflation, supply chain challenges and worker shortages, however, these are not expected to be enough to halt growth.

As of September 2021, Metro Houston had recouped 245,600 jobs, or roughly 68 percent of the 361,400 lost in the early stages of the pandemic.
As we look to a new year and the promise continued job growth holds for employers, jobseekers, and residents, in general, we have the opportunity renew our commitment to developing strong regional talent and expanding pathways to these good jobs. Employers can continue to open the doors to new talent pools through apprenticeship programs, skills-based hiring practices, and other initiatives, and provide opportunities for students and jobseekers to experience what a career might entail. We can acknowledge and provide additional assistance workers and jobseekers may need to remain in or re-join the workforce. And we can recognize essential role of career counselors and coaches, educators, and training providers in helping residents navigate career pathways and prepare for good jobs, and support them in this crucial work.

By keeping a focus on strengthening Houston's pipeline of talent, we support a more inclusive recovery and economy that provides opportunity for all.
Veterans: Skilled Talent for the Civilian Workforce
Military veterans possess diverse skills and experiences that may match well with a spectrum of jobs and opportunities employers need to fill. Yet despite the urgent need for a skilled workforce in many industries, this talent pool with good skills often gets overlooked because of the disconnect between how military experience can be translated into the needs of the civilian workforce.

During the final UpSkill Works Forum of the year, Stephanie Drake, executive director of NextOp Veterans, shared how NextOp bridges gaps between employers and military talent. Drake described how young servicemen and servicewomen develop and hone highly valuable skills including leadership, decision-making, and adaptability, and why their service records often look different from a non-veteran’s resume. For example, it is not uncommon for a veteran to have held several positions in seemingly unrelated areas while serving, which an employer might mistake as an undesirable record of “job-hopping” but actually hints at a veteran’s attractive attributes including adaptability and ability to learn as well as being able to follow the direction of military leadership to work where someone is needed.

In addition, “middle-enlisted” service members – those who are roughly 22 to 28 years old, who may have some college education and possibly a degree and typically serve for between four and eight years – generally lack collegiate or professional networks to help them connect with employers and opportunities, she said. 
Click above to watch a recording of "Different Mission, Transferable Talent."

She also discussed the U.S. Department of Defense's apprenticeship-style SkillBridge program that helps members of the military transition into the civilian workforce before leaving the service by having a career "try out" with an employer.

Drake, who is also a member of UpSkill Houston's executive committee, was joined by Carla Thompson, workforce development manager for initiative partner Turner Industries Group, for a lively discussion of best practices employers can take to tap into this talent and retain it: take a chance on a veteran candidate who might not hold every specific skill requested in a job posting; leverage the knowledge and experience of existing veteran employees to decrease bias in the job posting and interview phase; and create internal veteran resources groups to support veteran employees.
Watch the Forum recording on YouTube. Connect with NextOp Veterans.
Apprenticeship Programs Gaining Momentum Amid Economic Recovery
Employers, educators, and trainers across region and the country celebrated National Apprentice Week in mid-November, highlighting the value of apprenticeship programs in rebuilding the economy and in opening careers and career pathways to new – often underserved – populations. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 92 percent of apprentices retain employment upon program completion, and workers who complete apprenticeship programs earn an average of $300,000 more over their career when compared with peers who do not.

Organizations are increasingly turning to apprenticeship programs to build this talent. The Greater Houston Apprentice Network (GHAN) launched earlier this year to help employers design and implement apprenticeship programs to fit their unique workforce needs. Founding members include Accenture, Aon, Amazon Web Services, Dow, Texas Mutual Insurance, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Worley. This lineup of partners is augmented by organizations committed to helping individuals develop career-focused skills including TRIO Electric and the career training program Ampersand, and together, are opening pathways to careers well beyond trade careers – careers most associated with apprenticeships. For example, Accenture created a robust apprenticeship program to cultivate talent in IT and other business areas, and Texas Mutual used a “roadmap” and other tools developed by Accenture and Aon to support its own apprenticeship initiative. Apprenticeship programs are gaining momentum in Houston, and their growth will help a growing number of residents participate in Houston's recovery and economic opportunity.

Texas Mutual Award to Support Career Counseling
Employers are currently seeking talent to fill good jobs as they rebuild their workforces; they are also planning for the future. In many cases, the adoption of new digital tools and systems have change the skills needed for these jobs, and requirements may look different to displaced workers and other jobseekers hoping to re-join the workforce. The demand for effective career counseling will only increase as skill demands continue to shift to meet business needs.

UpSkill Houston and its partners have been working to improve the capacity of career counselors and coaches in helping current – and future – jobseekers understand the skills that will be required of them on-the-job, navigate the labor market, and access sustainable career pathways.

Texas Mutual Insurance has shown its support for these efforts, most recently through its latest round of grant awards. The Partnership is among 44 organizations across Texas to receive a combined $2.8 million in grants from the insurer to support workforce development and safety training efforts. This grant will help the Partnership foster professional development and training for career coaching professionals, so they are better equipped to connect people with effective training opportunities and prepare them for quality jobs.

Other Houston area recipients include UpSkill Houston partners BakerRipley, SERJobs, and TRIO Education.

Learn more about these grants from Texas Mutual.
Higher Ed, Lawmakers Eye Sustainable Funding Solutions for Junior Colleges
Texas higher education leaders, business leaders, and lawmakers have begun work to make recommendations on state funding formulas and funding levels sufficient to sustain viable education and trainings offered by public junior colleges across the state. The Texas Commission on Community College Finance was created by the 87th Texas Legislature to make these recommendations to the 88th Texas Legislature with the aim of improving student outcomes in alignment with the state’s postsecondary attainment goals.
Graduate of a high school or college
Greater Houston’s nine community colleges educate roughly one third of the region’s workforce, making these systems a major source of local labor market talent. Statewide, community colleges represent half of all higher education enrollment, and provide 92 percent of all career and technical credentials awarded.

The Commission will examine trend and forecast data, seek stakeholder input, and account for equity in student outcomes, before advising on components of state funding and the feasibility of establishing share service agreements or interinstitutional collaboration. It may also examine and make recommendations on workforce demands and skills gaps, among other policy and finance matters.

The 12-member panel includes Dr. Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of San Jacinto College, Texas Community Colleges (TACC) past-chair and UpSkill Houston executive committee member; Dr. Stephen Head, president of Lone Star College, an UpSkill Houston partner; and Houston-area lawmakers State Sen. Brandon Creighton and State Sen. Larry Taylor.

Learn more from TACC.
Houston Back on Track Focuses Work, Plans Expansion
Houston Back on Track has been hard at work, spending time with one of the community partners working to provide career coaching and wraparound services to potential job applicants: Wesley Community Center. By focusing on preparing the staff of one partner organization for the work required to support this jobs initiative, we hope to sharpen our approach with all the other organizations moving forward. Wesley functioned as our prototype and now is up and running, helping to prepare its clients in ways that are unique to Houston Back on Track.

Now we are moving quickly to bring the other three organizations up to full speed — Houston Area Urban League, WorkFaith, and Change Happens! — with the intention of putting Houstonians into great jobs before Christmas. Career coaches with these community partners are motivated and eager to be part of this effort. Immediately after the holiday season, we anticipate scaling up our effort to include additional community partners and employers. This will open new capacity and increase our ability to reach out to Houstonians looking for good jobs. We also plan to increase our messaging and outreach to a much broader audience in coming weeks and months.

Connect with Houston Back on Track.
Report: Breakdowns in Childcare Drive Economic Loss
Access to affordable, quality childcare has long been a concern for working parents trying to enter, re-enter, or remain active in the workforce; the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated problems within the childcare system, bringing them to a head for many parents, employers, and childcare providers.

Childcare issues result in a staggering estimated $9.39 billion loss to the Texas economy, annually, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation – nearly $7.6 billion of this due to absences and employee turnover. Nearly three of every four working parents reported missing work due to childcare issues within the last three months, and roughly seven percent of parents voluntarily left a job due to childcare issues, it shows.

The Chamber's report, “Untapped Potential: How Childcare Impacts Texas’s Workforce Productivity and the State Economy,” highlights challenges facing families with young children and the need for flexible access to high-quality and affordable care.

Workforce Development Events & Opportunities
  • Multiple Dates: Job Fairs and Hiring Events; Workforce Solutions maintains this calendar of upcoming job fairs, skill-building sessions and hiring events for adults, young adults and parents
  • Multiple Dates: Workforce Solutions Young Adult Events; Workforce Solutions will host several young adult hiring events
  • Jan. 11: State of American Business 2022; The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will delve into the multilayered dynamics businesses will face in 2022
  • Jan. 28: 2022 Partnership Annual Meeting; The Partnership's Annual Meeting features incoming chair Thad Hill, a deep dive into the Partnership's strategic initiatives, and a review of accomplishments from the last year
  • Feb. 2: Tools You Can Use - Resources to Help Your Company Expand Access and Opportunity; Learn how One Houston Together is helping Partnership members improve talent representation and accelerate the growth of underrepresented businesses
  • March 3: #SHEbuildsHouston; C3 presents this interactive career exploration event for female students within Alief and Spring Branch school districts schools; it is currently seeking employer partners
  • March 24: Women in Industry Conference; Texas Gulf Coast Community Colleges present this event for women and female students to explore careers in the petrochemical industry, network with employers, and learn where to get training for industry careers
Add Your Workforce Events To Our Calendar!
We want to share your opportunities to help students and jobseekers prepare for and connect with good career prospects across our region. Please send your events to for inclusion in upcoming newsletters.
Resources & Readings
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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