January/February 2022
Partnership Sharpens Focus on Economic Development
Over the last several years, the Partnership has focused on building a strong, diverse, 21st century economy, offering a great quality of life and ensuring opportunity for all, while advancing bold solutions to strengthen Houston as a diverse, inclusive and equitable city.

In 2022, this work will continue with a focus on economic development. During the Partnership's Annual Meeting, held Jan. 28, new Partnership chair Thad Hill, Calpine Corporation president and CEO, outlined four key tactics the Partnership will implement this year:
  • Execute a business-led economic development program that further mobilizes the expertise, energy and guidance of Houston’s regional business leadership. 
  • Accelerate the work of the Partnership’s sector-specific plans to grow strong industry clusters.
  • Accentuate and improve collaboration and engagement with regional allies across the 12-county Houston region. 
  • Elevate the global perceptions and understanding of today’s Houston.
Partnership CEO Bob Harvey and new Board Chair Thad Hill discuss progress and plans for 2022
Houston's success — and progress moving forward — will depend on a skilled regional workforce supported by a strong workforce development ecosystem that opens pathways to good jobs and opportunity for all area residents. The Greater Houston Partnership and UpSkill Houston fundamentally believe that quality education and skills development creates a virtuous cycle of economic growth and opportunity for the Houston region and requires strong employer leadership and engagement.

In support of this cycle, work-based learning models such as internship and apprenticeship programs help expand access to students and jobseekers and introduce employers to new talent pools. Skills-based hiring practices open these doors, as well.
Education and training programs that allow students to build and try out skills while earning industry-recognized credentials and getting a feel for real work will continue to help inform good education and career decisions.

The Partnership's UpSkill Houston and Houston Back on Track initiatives will continue to enable and advance the good work underway across our region to elevate awareness of good careers and career pathways, close skills gaps, and prepare diverse talent and support an inclusive post-pandemic recovery.

See full Partnership coverage of its 2022 Annual Meeting.
U.S. Senate Hears How Houston Leads on Innovations in Workforce Development
Peter Beard, Partnership senior vice president of regional workforce development and leader of the UpSkill Houston and Houston Back on Track initiatives, testified February 15 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), stressing the importance of quality workforce development opportunities and innovations in addressing barriers to employment.

Beard highlighted the good work underway across the Houston region to:
  • Develop baselines of existing skills and capabilities to support upskilling into quality jobs or occupational pathways.
  • Strengthen skills-based hiring and education.
  • Ensure effective transitions into employers' workforces.
  • Support quality life-long learning that enhances occupational mobility and economic prosperity.
Peter Beard testifies before the U.S. Senate HELP committee. Click above to watch a recording.
Beard cited examples of programs, initiatives, and movements created by and supported by numerous UpSkill Houston and Houston Back on Track partners and stakeholders.

Beard was joined by fellow leading workforce development practitioners from the City of Detroit, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and the New York Association of Training and Employment Professionals.
Watch a recording of the proceedings here.
Internships: Shopping at a Mall of Careers & Previewing Talent
A workplace is like a mall of careers — full of different jobs and business functions, occupational areas and roles — and internships allow students to come in and "shop." Employers “shop,” too. Just as internships provide job previews for interns, they allow employers to preview potential candidates for future openings. As internships become more critical to a college or high school resume — and more competitive to land — internship design has become more important.

Building a successful internship program requires intentional thought and planning but the process doesn’t have to be challenging. Leaders from UpSkill Houston partners HCA Houston Healthcare, INEOS Olefins & Polymers USA, MAREK Bros. and GenesysWorks Houston have provided tips to help employers and interns make the most of their internship experiences.

Online Professional Networking Platform Gives First-Gen College Students 'Career Spring'
Starting a career can be daunting for any recent college graduate; the challenges can be greater for first-generation graduates and others without a connection to a professional network to share career information and openings. But Houston’s first-generation and low-income college students can tap into a ready-made network, complete with advisors, internships, and job opportunities, through the online platform CareerSpring.

Launched in 2020 by UpSkill Houston executive committee member Paul Posoli, CareerSpring harnesses the expertise and commitment of working professionals to inform students of career options, provide mentorship, and help place students and graduates in career-starting internships and jobs. In two years, it has grown to 750 volunteer professional advisors, 121 partners, and more than 3,500 student advisees from over 400 colleges and universities using the platform.

Houston Awarded Grant to Promote Equitable Career Opportunities for Youth
The City of Houston has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the National League of Cities (NCL) to help it promote equitable career opportunities for marginalized youth. The funds will be used by the Mayor's Office of Education to support the Hire Houston Youth program and specifically connect diverse opportunity youth to STEM and technology workforce development.

According to the City, marginalized youth and young adults are disproportionately represented in areas most affected by the pandemic, like health care, hospitality and childcare. Houston will also receive specialized assistance from NCL staff among other national experts to advance its efforts to STEM career pathways for marginalized youth.

Hire Houston Youth links Houstonians between the ages of 16 and 24 to internship and job opportunities. Since 2016, Hire Houston Youth has worked with 102 corporate and non-profit partners to provide job and internship opportunities, and reached more than 30,000 youth. Hire Houston's Youth's 2022 campaign is underway, and employers may access the job portal to list their opportunities now.

Celebrating the Successes of Career & Technical Education
Career and Technical Education (CTE) is integral to preparing the highly skilled workforce Houston will need to remain competitive in the global economy of the future. Employers rely on CTE programs to teach students key technical and skills for high-wage and high-demand careers from construction to business management, health care to IT, manufacturing to transportation.

Nationally, 92% of high school students and nearly 70% of college and adult students are involved in a CTE program, according to the Association for Career & Technical Education® (ACTE). According to ACTE, 94% of CTE high school students graduate, nationally, and most enroll directly in college. And, CTE associate degrees can pay $10,000 per year more than associate degrees in other fields, and more than bachelor's degrees in many cases.

UpSkill Houston invites employers, educators and community partners to recognize and publicize the importance of these critical programs and those who provide them by celebrating CTE Month® in February via community and social media outreach.
Click above for ACTE's CTE Month tools
The ACTE has created a suite of tools and fact sheets to help employers and education providers tell CTE stories and organize site and program visits, target media and engage with potential partners and policymakers. Partners can share (and see) CTE programs at work on social media using the hashtag #CTEMonth.

Access ACTE's full suite of CTE Month tools here.
"My Life As..." Series a CTE Tool
UpSkill Houston has partnered with area employers including Dow, FedEx, Gulf States Toyota, Houston Methodist, INEOS Olefins & Polymers, Jacobs Engineering (now Worley), Marek Bros., Texas Children's Hospital and TRIO Electric to showcase a variety of good careers students can prepare for through CTE programs — our "My Life As..." series.
The series can be used as a tool to help encourage students and jobseekers to pursue and enroll in CTE programs at a high school or college level. Each story spotlights day-to-day job aspects along with the skills needed for success and numerous benefits associated with the given role and industry as a whole. We encourage you to use the series to educate students and jobseekers of good opportunities and CTE programs that will support their success.
See UpSkill Houston's full "My Life As..." series; Access UpSkill Houston's social media kit.
'Made in Houston': What Manufacturing Means to Houston
The Houston Metro has the second-largest manufacturing GDP on any metro area in the U.S. It's home to more than 6,400 manufacturers employing a skilled workforce including nearly 230,000 industrial workers (and growing).

But what, exactly, is made in Houston, and why is this important to Houston's workforce, economy — and future?

Read the full story.
Houston Back on Track Expands Community Outreach
Houston Back on Track is off and running in 2022, working in new ways to connect to the community.

We are collaborating with our partners to distribute printed materials to underserved neighborhoods, in both English and Spanish. Because so many Houstonians prefer Spanish language, we are busy updating our website to embrace this bilingual approach. Complementing these efforts is our renewed push to reach people via social media, and stories in print and on local television. When more of our neighbors know about the great jobs our employers offer, we know they will pursue these opportunities.

Connect with Houston Back on Track.
Breakdowns in Childcare Drive Economic Setbacks in Texas
Childcare issues result in an estimated $9.39 billion loss to the Texas economy, annually, according to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. This staggering figure — derived from absences and employee turnover, and lost tax revenue — illustrates the economic value of childcare in the state, and the effects of insufficient access and rising costs have on workforce productivity and the overall economy.

The U.S. Chamber highlights the data behind this value and other consequences for families with childcare needs, such as foregoing work promotions or postsecondary education, in its report "Untapped Potential in TX." The report presents why a diverse set of childcare solutions are needed to fully bring Texans back into the workforce.

Read the full report here.
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
  • March 1: Commence Colloquium: A Superintendent Roundtable; University of Houston Downtown's Center for Public Service & Community Research presents a lively discussion of education challenges and trends with superintendents of Aldine ISD, Houston ISD, Spring ISD, Spring Branch ISD, and Tomball ISD
  • March 2: Business Leaders Advancing Skills in Texas (BLAST) virtual series; Opportunity America's Tamar Jacoby will discuss the community college as an indispensable institution followed by a panel discussion with Jacoby, Dr. Lonnie Howard (Lamar Institute of Technology), Dr. Christy Ponce (Temple College), and Dr. William Serrata (El Paso College), moderated by Jane Oates (WorkingNation)
  • 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 and volunteers
  • March 9: Economy Series: March Economic Update; The Partnership's monthly Economy Series presents exclusive data and examines trends impacting our economy on a local and state level
  • March 10: Rise to the Top; The Partnership's Women's Business Alliance (WBA) hosts this International Women's Day celebration with an energizing conversation featuring outstanding female executives
  • 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 obtain training for industry careers
  • April 6: Business Leaders Advancing Skills in Texas (BLAST) virtual series: (Registration information available soon) This session focused on employer leadership and partnership with community colleges will feature a conversation with Texas employers who use and depend upon community colleges for developing skills in their workforce, and employer panels moderated by Tamar Jacoby (Opportunity America) and Jane Oates (WorkingNation)
  • May 3: Business Leaders Advancing Skills in Texas (BLAST) virtual series: (Registration information available soon) This session will focus on policy leadership and include a conversation with Dr. Harrison Keller, commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board moderated by Jane Oates (WorkingNation)
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 UpSkill@Houston.org 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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