June 2022
Employment Rebound Continues; Regional Unemployment Still Exceeds State, National Averages
The Houston MSA added roughly 31,000 jobs over the month of May marking the second-largest May gain since 1990, according to June's monthly employment report from the Gulf Coast Workforce Board/Workforce Solutions. May's figure represents 15 consecutive month-over-month gains (seasonally adjusted). The month's growth was driven by increases in leisure and hospitality, construction, and professional and business services.

Year-over-year, total nonfarm employment was up 6.1%, with all 11 industry sectors showing year-over-year growth. Last month's total nonfarm employment was revised upward of 30,900 jobs (from the previously reported 29,700 jobs).

Even so, the region's unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) crept up from 4.1% to 4.3%, exceeding the statewide average of 3.8% and the national average of 3.4%.

While the region's overall job growth is positive, the Gulf Coast Workforce Board is concerned that “the relatively lower wage service sector continues to do the 'heavy lifting' in terms of propelling the recovery.” To promote a more equitable economic recovery for the region’s residents, it will be important to support low wage workers in building new skills to find pathways to economic mobility and to adapt to a changing economy. UpSkill Houston and its partners are actively working to ensure that all Houstonians can access and participate in our competitive regional economy. Please see these related stories in this UpDate: Opportunity@Work and Houston Back on Track.

See Workforce Solutions' Local Employment Statistics.
Higher Education Commissioner: Urgent Action Needed to Address Texas Skills Needs
The shift toward an innovation-based, technology-enabled economy has rapidly changed the skills and credentials needed by Texans in the workforce. While the state’s community colleges have the scale, infrastructure, and potential to address the skills challenges facing Texas employers and residents, they will need to adapt and develop increased agility in order to meet the urgent needs of today's changing economy. Stronger partnerships and engagement with employers and industry are essential for community colleges to fulfill their critical workforce mission. The types of credentials offered through higher education and the way institutions are organized and engage with employers and students can be re-tooled, re-envisioned to meet these needs head on—and the time to do it is now.
The THECB's new strategic plan "Building a Talent Strong Texas" takes a novel, market-driven approach to setting educational attainment targets.

Click above to watch a recording of the full UpSkill Works forum.
Dr. Harrison Keller, commissioner of higher education with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), visited the Partnership in early June to share his insights on our skills challenges during an UpSkill Works forum. He highlighted the urgency for innovating and focusing on higher education policy and its related outcomes to address the state's skills challenges, particularly for the workforce mission of our community colleges.

Keller discussed the THECB's new strategic plan for building a talent strong Texas, highlighting the strength and novelty of its market-driven approach. The plan raises the bar on the state's "60X30 Texas" plan to expand the target age group of Texas learners and workers and to place emphasis on attainment beyond traditional degrees to include “credentials of value” to employers and the labor market.

Keller urged employers and educators to help "clear regulatory brush" and support the innovation and agility necessary to ensure the state’s long-term competitiveness. By working together, we can commit to serving more Texans than ever before and educate more people to higher standards with credentials of value. “The thing that I’m most worried about—that we won’t work like we’re running out of time—because we are,” he said.

Opportunity@Work and UpSkill Houston Partner to help the Region’s Employers Acquire STARs
Individuals who have been Skilled Through Alternative Routes (STARs)—those other than a bachelor's degree, such as work experience, community college, and military service—make up a significant segment of the region's talent and represent enormous potential for its workforce. UpSkill Houston and Opportunity@Work are partnering to open more opportunities to Houston STARs.

The region’s energy employers have engaged Opportunity@Work to strengthen their skills-based hiring efforts and to expand their talent pool by recruiting, hiring and promoting STARs within their companies. As the Houston region continues to drive workforce innovation, UpSkill Houston’s partnership with Opportunity@Work will advance our key strategic pillar to champion and advance skills-based hiring and education. Opportunity@Work CEO Byron Auguste shared during an UpSkill Works forum in April how employers can re-think their talent practices to better leverage STAR talent.

UpSkill Houston and Opportunity@Work invite community-based organizations and talent developers working with STARs in Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast region to learn more about Opportunity@Work, STARs, and the Stellarworx platform through two webinars in July:

  • July 15 at 9:30 a.m. Central: Learn about this partnership focused on opening more opportunities for STARs – individuals Skilled Through Alternative Routes (those other than a bachelor's degree). Register here.
  • July 29 at 9:30 a.m. Central: Learn more about Opportunity@Work’s Stellarworx platform and the current occupations posted by Houston employers looking for STARs. Register here

Learn more about our joint work here; Read a recap of Auguste's forum appearance here.
Houston Back on Track Launching Outreach Campaign, Planning Second Hiring Event
Houston Back on Track is gearing up for an active summer. This month, it will begin a new outreach campaign and ramp up its social media platforms while continuing to prepare for bigger things behind the scenes.

In July, it will launch a revamped website, along with digital and radio advertising, and more. This outreach will reach an anticipated thousands of Houstonians in a short period of time, leading to connection to our community and employer partners. HBOT is also working with partner WorkFaith to host a second online hiring event on July 12, which will help connect individuals who are upskilling themselves with employers who are seeking skilled talent.

Partnership, United Way Build Coaching Community of Practice
United Way of Greater Houston and the Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative have convened the first cohort of career coaches from across the region to augment professional training within a peer learning context. Effective career coaching and guidance is a key pillar of UpSkill Houston’s long-term strategy.

The cohort evolved out of discussions among United Way of Greater Houston’s workforce coaching network and UpSkill Houston leaders around how to strengthen the capacity and skills of the region’s career coaches to help empower area residents and students to successfully navigate a rapidly changing labor market. The group will work through training using the Skilling America learning platform and meant to help Greater Houston’s coaches explore new, innovative ways to work with and support clients to obtain better jobs and careers and improve their economic mobility.
National Cyber Group to Address Cybersecurity Talent Needs
In an age of increased digitalization across industries and individual businesses, businesses are facing increased threats to their technology and information systems. They are, therefore, taking more stock of their cybersecurity needs—and their need for skilled cybersecurity talent. By some estimates, the country has a 2 million-person cyber talent deficit.

The Houston-based private equity investment firm GP Capital Partners has partnered with LP First Capital to help meet these needs by investing in a cybersecurity workforce accelerator to attract, train, and place new talent into key entry-level and mid-level cybersecurity jobs. The new organization, called the National Cyber Group, based in Washington, D.C., will prepare individuals for these in-demand roles through foundational IT certification training and hands-on application of coursework in a simulated security operations center. GP Capital Partners managing partner Gina Luna, who was instrumental in the investment, is a former co-chair of the UpSkill Houston initiative.

Learn more about the National Cyber Group.
Apprenticeships Gain Recognition as Talent Development Tools Across Industries
The Greater Houston Apprentice Network is helping employers across the region expand the apprenticeship model to attract and grow skilled talent into an increasingly diverse spectrum of industries and roles.

The organization, founded in 2021 by Accenture and Aon with support from the Partnership, recently held an apprenticeship panel and networking event for members, partners, apprentices, and guests to learn about different apprenticeship models and practices. Featured speakers included apprentices and managers from UpSkill Houston partners Accenture, Aon, and Dow.
Apprentices and their managers share their experiences learning and developing talent through apprenticeship programs.
Apprenticeship programs combining paid work with classroom education and mentorship are proven models for bringing new talent into important, in-demand industries and careers. They allow students to "earn as they learn" and employers to develop a workforce with the specific skills to meet their needs. The GHAN's goal is to create 500 apprentice roles in the region by 2025.

Connect with the GHAN via LinkedIn.
TWC Increases Support for Child Care Apprenticeships
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is launching new initiatives to support the apprenticeship as a model for attracting and developing new talent for key industries and career opportunities. In June, it announced funding awards to support new and existing apprenticeship programs for early childhood child care professionals and assistance for child care teacher-apprentices. TWC will form a workgroup to develop a framework to streamline college credit and certification awards aligned with college coursework and apprenticeship programs.

TWC's latest efforts will help the child care industry attract and build this critical Texas workforce.

Stipeche Tapped to Lead Gulf Coast Workforce Board
Juliet Stipeche has begun service as the new director of human services for the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC).

Stipeche was tapped earlier this spring to lead HGAC's workforce, aging, and disabilities resource teams, and will also serve as the Gulf Coast Workforce Board's executive director. She brings to the role education and workforce experience through her work with Houston ISD, Rice University, and the City of Houston Mayor's Office. Stipeche replaces longtime director Mike Temple following his retirement in April.

Workforce Development
Events & Opportunities
  • Ongoing: Workforce Solutions; Upcoming hiring events and trainings listed by Workforce Solutions
  • Ongoing: MorePathways.org; Upcoming training programs listed by BridgeYear
  • June 28-30: Future of Global Energy Conference; This in-person and virtual conference spotlights how the Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative (HETI) is advancing the work on its Blueprint for Progress. Attendees can learn about global and national perspectives around energy transition, Houston's role in leading this transition, and other key topics around Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS), hydrogen, decarbonization, innovation and fostering climate equity in Houston's energy transition
  • July 12: Houston Back on Track & WorkFaith Hiring Event; Community-based organizations and talent developers can invite clients to participate in this hiring event sponsored by Houston Back on Track and WorkFaith (Registration info to come)
  • July 12: One Houston Together Webinar Series: Opportunity in Supplier Diversity; Learn what supplier diversity is, why it is important, and how local businesses can increase their supplier diversity efforts during this first session of the Partnership's new One Houston Together webinar series
  • July 12: BLAST: Supports for Student Success; Join the Business Leaders Advancing Skills in Texas coalition for this discussion of how employers and partners can support students
  • July 15: How to Start Building New Momentum for STARs in Houston; Join UpSkill Houston and Opportunity@Work to learn how to help build better pathways for STARs
  • July 24-30: 2022 Summer Professional Development Conference; The Texas Industrial Vocational Association's (TIVA) summer conference presents industry information and provides hands-on education
  • July 27 & 28: 2022 Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues; This symposium produced by HR Houston presents topics including business management and strategy, employee and labor relations, talent management, and leadership and development for HR professionals
  • July 29: What You Need to Find Upwardly-Mobile Jobs for STARs in Houston; Join UpSkill Houston and Opportunity@Work to learn about the Stellarworx platform and the current occupations posted by Houston employers looking for STARs
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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