September 2021
Employers, Community Partners Power New Initiative to Get Houston Back on Track
Houston is forever changed by the pandemic that broke in the spring of 2020. The metro region lost 361,400 jobs in the ensuing recession, and though much progress has been made in recovering those losses, more needs to be done. Displaced workers are looking for opportunities and, in many cases, support as they pursue employment and build new skills. Employers seek talent with the right knowledge and know-how to fill their jobs.

Houston Back on Track is the job recovery initiative, led by the Partnership and its Regional Workforce Development team, that works to connect the dots between displaced workers and top local employers. Through key partnerships and new ways of aligning and coordinating our efforts, Houston Back on Track will provide job seekers with the necessary support and resources they need while searching for their next great role and career.

This alliance of community partners and their career coaches, education providers, and employers is a game changer that should help put Houstonians back to work in jobs with great opportunities for upskilling and growth. Houston Back on Track will be a force multiplier that helps raise the trajectory of Houston families for years to come.
Houston Back on Track: How Houston's Employers Can Support Workforce Recovery
The Houston Back on Track job recovery initiative was launched during the September 8 UpSkill Works Forum "Pathways to Better Opportunity."

The session featured a discussion with initiative co-chairs Matt Morris and Chase Robison and Louise Wiggins, Boston Consulting Group partner and managing director, about the region's job loss and demographics of its rebound over the last 18 months, followed by conversations with initiative employer partners which have implemented replicable strategies and approaches to develop a skilled talent pool for their open positions.
Click above to watch a recording of "Pathways to Opportunity"
Morris and Robison engaged in a conversation about the skill and talent needs of the first group of employer partners, including Staci Atchison, vice president of human resources for Silver Eagle Distributors; Dave Edwards, director of human resource for Mustang CAT; HCA Houston Healthcare's Oscar Gracia, Gulf Coast division director of talent acquisition, and Mindy Hart, division manager of talent acquisition; and Regina Mellinger, CEO of staffing firm Primary Services.

The forum was the second in a two-part series recognizing the contributions of Houston's workforce to the region's strength, prosperity, and well-being. The first part explored 'personas' representative of the region's jobseekers – the curious, inexperienced “fresh face”; the “mayday mom” who is busy and motivated but feels unchallenged and unappreciated at work; the “Houston strong” worker who has weathered trauma but is resourceful and resilient; and the “wise and worried” displaced worker without a sense of job security despite having advanced degrees. Identifying and understanding personas can provide valuable insights for employers seeking new talent and for nonprofit organizations that support, equip, and empower Houstonians as they strive for better career opportunities.
Partnership Welcomes Carl Salazar to Houston Back on Track Team
Carl Salazar - Director of Workforce Recovery
This summer, the Partnership welcomed Carl Salazar to its Regional Workforce Development team to oversee the launch and operation of the new Houston Back on Track job recovery initiative.
Though he is new to the Partnership, Salazar is no stranger to the important work underway to support Houstonians across the region. Recently, he has been working with Home Aid Houston (home rebuilding after Harvey), Hope Farms (focused on healthy eating and urban farming), and UpSkill Houston partner SER Jobs (workforce development) to develop new programs and improve business processes. He also recently served as the Director of Veterans Affairs for the Mayor’s Office and was a founding board member of UpSkill Houston partner Combined Arms. During his time with the City of Houston, he was a key member of the team that ended chronic homelessness for veterans in the City of Houston. He has worked for Accenture and several manufacturing businesses.

Salazar graduated from the United States Naval Academy and served with the U.S. Navy in San Diego and Long Beach. He also earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. He is passionate about supporting military veterans and founded Expedition Balance, a nonprofit supporting the mental health of veterans. He is also a Senior Fellow with the American Leadership Forum.
Digital Skills: Powering Houston's Future and Empowering its Workforce
Join the UpSkill Works Forum conversation October 13
Houston’s industries and employers are accelerating the integration of technology in their businesses – to improve productivity and competitiveness. Workers will need to acquire and develop strong digital skills to succeed in Houston’s innovation-based economy and navigate a technology-driven workplace.

General Assembly helps people transform their careers through pioneering educational programs focused on the day's most in-demand skills. Its students learn an array of tech, data, design, and business programs and skills based in current industry and market needs. The organization is also committed to providing accessible and affordable education, and provides scholarships and free training programs to underserved and overlooked talent.

UpSkill Houston is pleased to welcome Tom Ogletree, General Assembly's vice president of Social Impact & External Affairs, to its UpSkill Works forum on Oct. 13. During the session, called "Digital Skills: Powering Houston's Future," Ogletree will discuss GA's approach to help individuals and companies compete in an increasingly technologically-enabled economy and to close the global digital skills gap.
August Workforce Report: Job Growth Keeps 'Recovery Momentum Intact'
The Houston region added 4,800 Nonfarm jobs during the month of August, with gains seen in the professional and business services, education and health services, and construction, sectors, according to the monthly Houston Area Employment Situation report from Workforce Solutions. The trade, transportation and utilities, financial activities, and mining and logging sectors experienced growth, too. The region's unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, down from July's rate of 6.7 percent.

The August report also adjusts the agency's July report, revising it to show a net gain of 200 jobs, for an increase of 5,000 jobs over both months combined. These gains push Houston's overall job recovery rates beyond 60 percent. August's growth keeps the region's recovery momentum intact, with full employment recovery by December 2022 increasingly likely, according to Gulf Coast Workforce Board Principal Economist Parker Harvey.

UpSkill Houston will welcome Harvey as a guest of its UpSkill Works Forum series on Oct. 25. Harvey will discuss the data he has dissected throughout the region's economic downturn and rebound, and what recovery means to greater Houston.
United Way Kicks Off Community Campaign
Through its Second Century Vision, United Way of Greater Houston champions and supports the region's most vulnerable families and individuals — the working poor (asset limited, income constrained, employed (or, A.L.I.C.E.) individuals) and those who fall below the poverty level. These populations make up roughly 47 percent of the region's population.

The Second Century Vision brings together organizations and partners to create pathways to financial stability, support early childhood and youth development, provide affordable healthcare services, and safety net services that take care of basic and immediate needs. This work is critical to helping the region's ALICE population and those living in poverty who desire a sustainable quality of life and pathway to self-sufficiency. It is integral to our work to create better pathways to opportunity and prosperity.
UWGH kicked off the 2021-2022 Community Campaign with Campaign Chair Scott Hallam and a robust discussion of United Way's Second Century Vision.
Click above to watch.
United Way's THRIVE network partners provide key programs that teach financial literacy and skills training that set up Houstonians to succeed in good careers. Partners help Houstonians overcome transportation challenges that could keep them from obtaining, or keeping, a job. And, they offer food, rent, and housing assistance, without which Houstonians could be without the basic necessities of food and shelter. UpSkill Houston is proud to support United Way's Second Century Vision and the strong partners making it a success.
Creators Wanted: Celebrating Manufacturing in Houston
Advanced manufacturing workforce
Houston is one of the most important globally advanced manufacturing and robotics ecosystems in the world. The region is home to more than 6,570 manufacturers and produces over $84 billion in goods annually. The manufacturing industry employs more than 234,000 area residents.

UpSkill Houston will be joining the National Association of Manufacturers and Manufacturing Institute in celebrating Manufacturing Day (Oct. 1) and highlighting the wealth of good manufacturing opportunities during the month of October. Look for us to highlight via LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter the importance of manufacturing and its workforce to Houston's economy and how industry leaders are helping build the next generation of creative, highly-skilled manufacturing talent.
Scholarship & Aid Programs
HCC, PepsiCo Offer Uplift Scholarships to Black and Hispanic Students
Houston Community College and the PepsiCo Foundation have partnered to tackle education inequalities that face Black and Hispanic populations through the new Uplift Scholarship initiative. The program will help students offset tuition and other associated costs of an array of academic and technical training courses to help students complete their education and prepare for jobs and careers in high-growth, high-demand fields.

HCC is among the first community colleges in the country to partner with PepsiCo's Uplift Scholarship program.
Metallica Supports Lone Star College "Women in Heavy Metal" Initiative
Lone Star College has announced that it will receive funds through the legendary rock band Metallica's All Within My Hands (AWMH) Foundation that it plans to use to support its welding and manufacturing technician noncredit programs, with a focus on helping women enter these industries. The grant will help students cover tuition and fees, supplies, and textbooks.

This is the third consecutive year that LSC has received an AWMH grant in conjunction with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

San Jacinto College Applies Tuition Discount for Fast Track Workforce Programs
San Jacinto College is offering a 100 percent tuition discount for eligible students in credit or noncredit "Fast Track" programs during the Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022 semesters. The school's "Fast Track" programs are designed to provide short-term education and training that set up students for successful careers in areas including healthcare, welding, logistics and transportation, and IT and technology, among others.

Eligible students may live within San Jacinto's district or outside of it, depending on the program.

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 throughout the fall
  • 1st & 3rd Fridays of the Month: HISD StoryTime; HISD's Career Readiness Department seeks volunteers to read short stories (provided) about careers and engage with students about their own professions
  • Oct. 1: Manufacturing Day; The East End Maker Hub hosts this event for students and teachers to participate in advanced manufacturing activities and meet with industry professionals
  • Oct. 7: Future of Texas; Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick will discuss how the Railroad Commission of Texas is working to strengthen Texas' leadership in the energy sector
  • Oct. 12: State of Education; This in-person event will focus on how a strong education system contributes to the long-term success of young people, increases equity, and is intrinsically tied to Houston's ability to remain competitive with a talented workforce
  • Oct. 12-15 & Oct. 21-22: Downstream USA 2021; This in-person and virtual multi-discipline downstream event will explore reliability and maintenance, engineering and construction, and shutdowns and turnarounds, among other topics
  • Oct. 13: UpSkill Works Forum: Digital Skills: Powering Houston's Future!; Guest Tom Ogletree, General Assembly vice president of Social Impact & External Affairs, will discuss GA's approach to closing the global digital skills gap
  • Oct. 26: Talent Forward: Lead on Talent, Lead the World; Join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation for the capstone of its Talent Forward series
  • Oct. 26 & 27: Houston DiverCity Summit; The Partnership will present an array of sessions focused on trust and transparency, aligning ERGs to business priorities, inclusive talent recruitment and retention, supplier diversity, and others as well as the region's first Equity & Inclusion Assessment during this in-person and virtual summit
  • Oct. 30: Houston Black College Expo™; Students can connect with resources and services to help them prepare for, enroll in and graduate from degree and certification programs
  • Nov. 4: State of the Houston Region; County judges and business leaders will discuss efficient government, emergency preparedness and coordination, and plans for the future during this Partnership event
  • Nov. 11: 2021 Soirée - Truly Global; The Partnership's annual gala returns to celebrate Houston as a truly global city
  • Nov. 18: 26th Annual Golf Classic; Houston's premier golf tournament supports the Partnership and the Greater Houston Partnership Foundation
Add Your Workforce Events To Our Calendar!
Are you holding a workshop, training, or speaker event to help inform and strengthen workforce development programs? Are you hosting an industry educational event for students, parents, or adult jobseekers? Do you have and upcoming job fair or hiring expo?

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 scheduled for the months of November and December 2021 to to be considered for inclusion in an upcoming UpSkill UpDate.
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