July 2021
Houston: Recovery, Response & Recognition
Weak job growth in the greater Houston region has done little to move the needle on the percentage of jobs recovered from those lost in the spring of 2020, according the June Employment Situation report published by the Gulf Coast Workforce Board.

Non-farm employment in June was roughly 3.04 million, for an increase of 6,500 jobs from May 2021. The month's largest increases were seen in the leisure/hospitality (+13,700 jobs), trade/transportation (+3,000 jobs), and manufacturing (+1,200 jobs) sectors, and sectors with the largest month-over-month decreases were government (-8,000 jobs), mining/logging (-3,000 jobs), and construction (-2,100 jobs). The region has gained roughly 101,400 jobs since June 2020, with nine of 11 super-sectors showing year-over-year growth; construction and manufacturing remain the two super sectors showing declines.

A recent analysis conducted by Workforce Board principal economist Parker Harvey showed that the Houston region would have to gain an average of at least 9,800 jobs a month for the region to recover jobs lost due to the pandemic and associated economic downturn by December 2022.

Houston MSA's unemployment rate stood at 7.4% in June 2021, slightly higher than the Texas average of 6.6% and the national average of 6.1%.

National unemployment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrate the unemployment impact by education level:
  • 10.2% for individuals with less than a high school diploma;
  • 7.0% for high school graduates with no college;
  • 5.8% for those with some college or an associate degree; and
  • 3.5% for individuals with a bachelor's degree.

Houston's employers have responded to employment challenges by partnering with community organizations and education systems to help provide relevant skills training and support for displaced workers, and to continue building the pipeline of talent in Houston. This month, we highlight some of the programs and efforts that have garnered national notice.

U.S. Treasury Notes Houston's Creative Approach to Recovery, Workforce Development
UpSkill Houston's model for creating a collective table of employers, educators, community-based partners and public agencies is replicable in regions and cities across the United States, and top Biden Administration officials are taking note. Houston’s creative and innovative approach to workforce development and economic recovery was the subject of conversation when Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo visited the Partnership July 16; Houston has largely fostered public-private partnerships to address these issues.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Ademeyo visited the Partnership in July 2021
Houston is highlighted as a leader in creative approaches to economic recovery
Meeting participants Peter Beard, Partnership senior vice president of Regional Workforce Development and leader of its UpSkill Houston initiative; Claudia Aguirre, president and CEO of UpSkill Houston partner BakerRipley; Dr. Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of partner San Jacinto College; Taylor Landin, Partnership senior vice president and chief policy officer; and Scott Silva, Texas market president of Fifth Third Bank, discussed with Adeyemo the role of employers and businesses in economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic downturn.

Adeyemo heard how initiative partners and stakeholders are taking collective action to help individuals prepare for, navigate, and access good careers that will increase their economic mobility and help get them – and the Houston economy – back on track, and the importance of creating better career pathways for all Houstonians.
Memorial Hermann a Model for Addressing Workforce Shortage
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has held up as a model the measures and strategies that Memorial Hermann Health System have undertaken to tap into talent and address worker shortage challenges as the Chamber continued its Talent Forward series, focusing on talent recovery.

Ann Miller, vice president of talent acquisition and staffing at Memorial Hermann and a member of UpSkill Houston's executive committee, described during the Chamber's July 20 session the actions Memorial Hermann has taken that other employers can, too, including:
  • Reconsidering whether a high school diploma or GED was absolutely necessary for employment in specific roles;
  • Partnering with community-based organizations to provide training, career outreach, and supports to career seekers; and
  • Getting involved with the community to help individuals understand career opportunities in the industry.

"It's not that there's a shortage of workers, it's that there's a shortage of the workers we have in our mind," Miller said.

The session also featured Jeff Good, president of Mangia Bene Restaurant Management Group, Inc., and Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber.

CenterPoint, BridgeYear Expand Career Exploration Program
The CenterPoint Energy Foundation recently awarded a grant to BridgeYear to help expand its Career Test Drive® Kit program to middle and high school across greater Houston and in Lake Charles and Sherveport, La.

BridgeYear's Career Kits, a concept developed in 2020, encourage students to explore automotive, construction and design, and health care careers by providing hands-on activities with guided instruction and advising sessions that students can complete at home. BridgeYear worked closely with employer partners to design the kits and larger modules.
Students can complete simulations at home and discuss the activities with industry professionals
CenterPoint Energy Foundation supports workforce development programs that include on-the-job experience for at-risk students. The grant will help BridgeYear provide kits to select Houston public schools and youth-serving organizations in low-income communities at little to no cost. Both CenterPoint Energy and BridgeYear are UpSkill Houston partners.

Providing opportunities for students to explore and try out careers through hands-on activities and mentoring can have a profound effect on students; they not only help students recognize otherwise unknown career options but also help them make informed education and career decisions.

Read how BridgeYear works with employers to create its career-connected activities; Learn how it developed the Career Test Drive® Kit concept here.
Brookings Provides Help for Promoting Job Mobility
A new report from the Brookings sets forth guidance for policymakers and firms to use resources wisely to promote mobility for all Americans amid the ongoing employment recovery across the country.

Researchers used data on hundreds of thousands of real workers’ occupational transitions to provide a new approach to better understand mobility, including who is falling behind, and why. Findings presented in the report, called "Moving up: Promoting workers' economic mobility using network analysis," highlight lower-wage occupational clusters with lower shares of upward transitions, identify inequities in existing pathways to high-wage work, and help illustrate the need for a multilateral approach to encouraging mobility.

The report is accompanied by a job mobility visualization tool that workers and organizations supporting them can use to identify realistic pathways back into the labor market. The tool can help jobseekers and career coaches see viable job-to-job transitions, but it also provides workforce development practitioners and stakeholders with practical, tailored analysis to build resilient economies.

Related: "Moving Up" report authors Marcella Escobari and Ian Seyal discussed strategies for inclusive economic growth during an UpSkill Works Forum in July 2020: See it here.
Learning Opportunities & Workforce Events
  • 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: YourLife Finance Classes; The Women's Resources hosts a variety of classes and coaching to help individuals improve their financial position
  • Multiple Dates: Workforce Solutions Young Adult Events; Workforce Solutions will host several young adult hiring events throughout the summer and fall
  • Aug. 3: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council; Partnership members can learn about the SBA's new Community Navigator Pilot Program for small businesses in underserved communities at this in-person event
  • Aug. 4: Addressing the Long-Term Unemployment Crisis; AARP and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta host this exploration of innovative solutions available to help the long-term unemployed
  • Aug. 10-12: Microsoft DigiGirlz Camp; Microsoft's free virtual camp features three days of coding and technology workshops, speaker events, and more to introduce students to tech industry careers
  • Aug. 14: Mayor's Back 2 School Fest Presented by Shell; The Mayor's Office and partners will distribute backpacks with school supplies as well as food to families for free
  • Sept. 22: Industrial and Petrochemical Industry Career Fair; San Jacinto College seeks employers actively pursuing interns and apprentices for its career fair for Lyondell Basell Center for Petrochemical and, Energy & Technology students
  • Sept. 23: Gulf Coast Industry Forum; This annual forecasting event from the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region will focus on current and future trends, needs and opportunities in energy, petrochemical and port industries along the Texas Gulf Coast
  • Oct. 15: Women in Industry Conference; High school, college and adult women are invited to explore petrochemical manufacturing careers, meet employers and hear success stories from women in the industry during this one-day conference
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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