September 2022
Getting Houston Back on Track
Over the last several weeks and months, there have been a number of labor market reports and news articles about the tight labor market across the United States. We also hear ongoing calls for how to help individuals get off the sidelines and back into the labor market. 

Let’s face it. The job market is very tight; and the available workforce is constrained due to many forces and underlying currents. We hear reports that there are almost two jobs available for every person unemployed and looking for work. The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) has been declining over the last 10 years and the current LFPR is below the pre-pandemic level. Finally, as hourly wages continue to increase, we are seeing some movement back of jobseekers back into the labor market. Yet during the course of the pandemic, many individuals changed the way they think about what they want out of a job. 

According to focus group research by the Federal Reserve system, “Overwhelmingly, [individuals] are looking for a fulfilling and meaningful career, not just a job.” So, as the Partnership’s Houston Back on Track works to bring people back into the labor market, it will also be important to understand their motivations and concerns and to use new tools to reach jobseekers.

Celebrating Workforce Development Month
Workforce development initiatives are critical to driving economic development and equipping workers with the skills and tools they need for long-term success. This work would not be possible without passionate practitioners, like you, within the business community, education institutions, the public sector, and the nonprofit sector. Whether you describe the skills needed by jobseekers to be successful in the workplace, help students recognize good careers, teach jobseekers or incumbent workers new skills or support those who do, your work is crucial to our region's long-term strength and success.

September is recognized by the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals as Workforce Development Month — a time to boost awareness of the importance of our work to grow the economy and strong, skilled workers within it. We encourage you to highlight how you support the development of Houston's regional workforce by sharing your programs and accomplishments with the greater community though media outreach, open houses or via social media. You can boost visibility of your programs and activities by posting to social channels with the hashtag #WkDevMonth — follow the hashtag to learn about others in the workforce development ecosystem, too.

Chambers, Wells Leave Legacy of Innovation, Collaboration
Houston's education community will be saying goodbye to two longtime education leaders as they retire this fall: HD Chambers, superintendent of Alief ISD, and Dr. Pam Wells, executive director of the Region 4 Education Service Center. Both leave behind a history of innovation, collaboration, and leadership for the benefit of the region's K-12 students.

Chambers dedicated more than 35 years to preparing middle and high school students for success in life and in the workforce. During the 12 years as Alief ISD’s leader, Chambers championed innovation and forged strong relationships with employers leading to the development of educational programs through which students gain the knowledge and skills for future workforce success. One such example is the Alief Center for Advanced Careers, which opened in 2018, where students can take advanced classes in areas including automotive, construction technology, engineering process technology, health science, industrial robotics, information technology and welding among others. His expertise has helped shape education across Texas, too. In 2013, he championed House Bill 5, which outlined five "endorsement" options (similar to college majors) for high school students. The endorsement requirement sets up a framework for students to focus their education in line with their interests and with an eye toward choosing a career focus for the future. More recently, Chambers testified before state legislative bodies on topics including school finance and partnerships between K-12 systems, higher education institutions and the business community.

Chambers began his education career teaching history and coaching middle school students in Aldine ISD. He then held several administrative leadership roles with Cypress Fairbanks ISD before becoming superintendent of Stafford Municipal School District. He has served on UpSkill Houston's executive committee since 2014.

Pam Wells served the Houston region as a public-school educator for 47 years, including the last 10 years leading Region 4 Education Service Center (ESC). She started as a teacher in Spring Branch ISD and spent 33 years in leadership positions at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, where she demonstrated a commitment to creating structures, supports, and relationships so that all students would have equal access to high quality schools and effective instruction. In her 10 years leading Region 4 ESC, Wells and her team worked with district superintendents in the region as they focused on what is best for our region’s children. Region 4 and its staff support more than 165,000 district teachers and staff members as they serve, educate and prepare more than 1.2 million students in the region for career and college success. In her work, Wells demonstrated for all Region 4’s core purpose—Excellence in Service for Children. She joined UpSkill Houston's executive committee in 2014.

We thank both Wells and Chambers to their dedication to strengthening educational opportunities and improving outcomes for generations of greater Houston students and for their leadership among the education and workforce development communities.
UpSkill Works Forum: Reflections on Education and the Workforce of the Future
On September 22, UpSkill Houston will host an engaging and thought-provoking conversation with HD Chambers as he reflects on the importance of education connecting with business and industry. This fireside chat will explore how Chambers drove development of Alief's workforce-focused education programs including how the district built partnerships with area employers to design curriculum and improve student outcomes. It will also focus on his role in supporting future-focused workforce education at a statewide level.
Click above to register for the broadcast of the next UpSkill Works forum, "Reflections on Education and the Workforce of the Future"
We invite you to join us for this free, interactive discussion with Chambers, to be held via Zoom and produced by current Alief ISD students.

Houston Prepared to Lead Clean Energy Workforce Evolution
The clean energy transition has begun and with it an evolution of the regional and national energy workforces. The Houston and Texas Gulf Coast region has a great opportunity to demonstrate how employers can tap into existing skilled talent and widen the breadth of workers hired into good clean energy jobs.

The enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022 targets $66.5 billion of investment in large-scale clean power generation and storage to Texas through 2030, according to Biden administration. As a global energy capital and leader in the energy transition, Texas will benefit from these investments which will support the recent gains in energy employment in the Houston region and across the country. 

This influx of investment into the energy industry will drive additional industry growth and change the labor market. Jobs will be created while others will change or become obsolete. Workers will need to adapt and upskill themselves in this shifting and changing energy industry.
Click above to watch a recording of the UpSkill Works forum "The Clean Energy of the Future"
National and regional energy leaders discussed during an August 26 UpSkill Works forum on the clean energy workforce of the future what jobs are considered "clean energy jobs" and how the region's energy employers can bring existing talent into these jobs for a more sustainable energy future.

Forum panelists included Lady Idos of the U.S. Department of Energy, Katie Mehnert of ALLY Energy, and Bryant Black of the Partnership's UpSkill Houston initiative; the initiative's Peter Beard moderated the discussion.
HISD Seeks Business Partners to Strengthen Workforce Education and Advising
Houston ISD is looking for new partners to join its business advisory council and help achieve its goal of prepare students for the workforce.

Industry partners can provide feedback on programs, work with the district's professional development team to help teachers stay current on industry trends and information and participate in legislative discussions. Business partners can be advocates to students who help them understand different career options, build relationships and prepare for the workforce. Sponsors partners can provide impact in creating or improving structures financially or that provide high-quality opportunities. These partnership opportunities could range from advising on equipment needs to industry-recognized certifications, curriculum design and participation in special student-focused events. Additionally, the council aims to develop one business partner per program per campus.

Interested organizations can reach out to HISD's Lisa Harris at for more information.
Workforce Development
Events & Opportunities
  • Ongoing: Workforce Solutions; Upcoming hiring events and trainings listed by Workforce Solutions
  • Ongoing:; Upcoming training programs listed by BridgeYear
  • Sept. 20: State of the Texas Medical Center; Join the Partnership for a look at developments and innovations planned for the Texas Medical Center (TMC) featuring William "Bill" McKeon, TMC president & CEO
  • Sept. 20: CPET Career Fair; This free job fair held at San Jacinto College's LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy, & Technology will feature industrial and petrochemical manufacturing employers with current job openings and opportunities for students and jobseekers to gain resume an interviewing tips and to network
  • Sept. 22: UpSkill Works Forum: Reflections on Education and the Workforce of the Future with Alief ISD's HD Chambers; UpSkill Houston hosts this engaging and thought-provoking conversation with Alief ISD Superintendent HD Chambers as he reflects on the importance of education connecting with business and industry
  • Sept. 22: Gulf Coast Industry Forum; Gov. Greg Abbott will present a state of the Texas energy and petrochemical production address during this event hosted by the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region; the forum will also feature discussions on the state of the port, the global geopolitical landscape, and advanced plastics recycling and sustainability
  • Sept. 29: State of Infrastructure; Hear from experts working to build equitable, resilient communities during this inaugural Partnership event
  • Sept. 29: C3 & AGC Workforce Development Conference; C3 and the Associated General Contractors invite Houston's commercial construction leaders to connect and network with postsecondary education, economic development, and workforce development industry experts featuring a keynote address by UpSkill Houston's Peter Beard
  • Oct. 5: State of the Airports; The Partnership will welcome Mario Diaz, Houston airports director, for a look at growth plans for Houston's three airports and the role they play in bolstering the city's position as an international air getaway
  • Oct. 15: Energy Day Festival; The Consumer Energy Education Foundation hosts this free, annual STEM festival at Sam Houston Park featuring interactive demonstrations and exhibits for students and families; Registration for employers and participants is open
  • Oct. 25: Houston DiverCity Summit; Join the Houston region's business leaders and talent and DEI executives for successful practices, peer connection, and first-rate resources to help you mature your diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies
  • Nov. 16: Women in Apprenticeship Summit; Houston Community College's Office of Work-Based Learning will host this opportunity to highlight the successes and value of Registered apprenticeships in re-building the economy, advancing equity and supporting underserved communities
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.
Have feedback or news to share?