March 2022
Labor Market Shows Strong Gains in February
Employment figures for the Houston MSA showed increases across almost all sectors in February – to the tune of 45,500 jobs over January, according to the month's jobs report from the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, released in March. However, this increase appears unusually large for a month with an average gain of 18,600 jobs, and report may be an anomaly and may be subject to revision in the future, its author notes.

The Houston MSA total Nonfarm employment (not seasonally adjusted) 3,175,500 in February. The Houston MSA unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) stood at 5.3% (with 184,582 people unemployed), which is down from 5.5% in January. The Texas statewide rate in February was 4.7%; nationwide, it was 4.1%. Increases in professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and government were the primary drivers of February's regional lift. Most other sectors saw gains, as well, with the exceptions of information (with zero growth or decline) and other services, which saw a decrease of 700 jobs.

Engaged Employers, Educators Inspire New Generation
Employers are in the best position to help emerging and future talent recognize good careers within their organizations and industries, and employers across the region are stepping up. From day-long career expos to longer-term project-based learning activities, employers have been helping students make informed career decisions by sharing their expertise and allowing students to ask questions and get a literal feel for the skills and tools they'd need on the job.

These programs that introduce students to good, but less visible careers can change the trajectories of lives and families. They can help employers and industries grow a more diverse workforce, too – especially in traditionally male-dominated areas of construction and petrochemical manufacturing.

By participating in career expos with meaningful interaction and mentoring students, and employers and industry organizations can help students gain clarity and recognize themselves in professional roles, and excite a new generation about the opportunities ahead.
C3, Employer Partners Show Students #SHEbuildsHouston
More than 1,000 female middle and high school students gathered throughout the day March 3 for #SHEbuildsHouston, an interactive career exploration event from Construction Career Collaborative (C3) in partnership with National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Houston Chapter.

The event, which was open to students from Alief ISD and Spring Branch ISD and held at Alief's Center for Advanced Careers, featured hands-on demonstrations designed to teach students relevant craft skills as well as roundtable sessions with women from a variety of fields within the construction industry.
SHEbuildsHouston is a career exploration event for female students
Women hold only about 8.5% of greater Houston's construction industry jobs across the full spectrum of career areas, and only 4.2% of work in construction occupations.
Rodeo Competition Builds Industrial Craft Skills
Completed BBQ skids on display at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo represented hundreds of hours of dedicated work by area high school students leading up to the judging during the Rodeo’s Industrial Craft Competition. The competition encourages high school students to recognize the many career opportunities offered in the industrial construction industry.
Industrial Craft Competition BBQ skids on display at the Rodeo in March 2022
The skids were designed and engineered by industrial partners and each participating school was provided with blueprints, raw materials to complete the project, and were assigned an industry mentor to consult and monitor safety and progress. The skids were built to Industrial specifications, with Industrial drawings and safety and execution standards. Alvin High School was named overall project champion and won additional awards for project presentation and for safety. Clear Creek Falls High School was awarded for building for specifications, and Brazoswood High School was awarded for its project execution.
Women Wanted in Good Careers in Petrochem & Industrial Construction
On March 24, roughly 1,500 women, including students from area high schools and community colleges, and from the industry, gathered to showcase good careers within the petrochemical manufacturing and industrial construction industries, and the pathways into them.

Throughout the day, industry professionals shared tips and strategies for entering the industries, such as through college and apprenticeships, and job-specific information to help students understand key necessary skills and credentials – and how to gain them. Karen Sobel, Worley group president, Americas; and Kesha Creeks-Williams, shift team leader at the ExxonMobil Chemical Plant in Baytown, were featured keynote speakers.
Women from ExxonMobil speak about the petrochemical manufacturing industry during the Women in Industry Conference in March 2022
In 2021, women made up 20% of the region's petrochemical manufacturing workforce, including petroleum and coal product, and resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial and synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing, and comprised of 19% of the region's nonresidential building and heavy and civil and engineering workforce.
Now in its fifth year, Women in Industry was created to introduce these industries to introduce these industries to a new generation of women, celebrate the successes of women currently in them, and help women advance their careers. The conference was produced by the nine colleges in the Gulf Coast Consortium and sponsored by leading employers from both industries.
Summer Internships Great Opportunities for Youth, Employers
Investing in Houston's youth is investing in greater Houston's future, and employers large and small can invest this summer by participating in Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's Hire Houston Youth program.

Since 2016, Hire Houston Youth, has worked with 102 corporate and non-profit partners to provide job and internship opportunities for more than 30,000 youth ages 16 through 24 years old.

This year, Turner has announced a "stretch" goal of providing youth with 15,000 summer internship, apprenticeship, and job opportunities through the program.

Paid interns can serve in a range of areas to accomplish real, meaningful work that benefits their employers. In turn, internships provide youth with opportunities to explore careers and develop workforce skills and behaviors that will serve them in the future.
City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner leads business and civic leaders in an appeal to hire Houston's youth
Internships offered through the program must last at least eight weeks and employers are asked to pay at least $10 per hour. Companies may also contribute to the program and sponsor a youth's compensation. And, employers may post existing internship opportunities on the Hire Houston Youth website.
Visit the Hire Houston Youth internship and job site at
BridgeYear Launches Platform for Career-Connected Training
The education nonprofit BridgeYear has unveiled a new career guidance tool to help students find education and training programs across the Houston region that teach relevant skills tied directly to careers and industry certifications.

The platform,, allows education and training providers to share classes and programs in a centralized location to maximize their reach. Additionally, the platform presents a wealth of career-specific information including working environment and duties, expected pay, and starting requirements. Users can find programs based on cost, length, eligibility, job salary, and location within the Houston area. Users can also create accounts to favorite programs, keep current on opportunities, and connect with BridgeYear advisors. BridgeYear plans to implement more features including program reviews and a provider dashboard. was built out of a long-recognized need to share with students the wealth of career-connected programs in an efficient, user-friendly manner, according to BridgeYear co-founder and Executive Director Victoria Chen. The project is supported by grants from The Powell Foundation, The Cullen Foundation, and The William Stamps Farish Fund.
Visit To add programs, providers can email
UpSkill Works Forum Series Returns
UpSkill Houston's UpSkill Works Forum is set to return for a third year of bringing together regional and national experts to share key workforce trends and effective practices and strategies to strengthen and diversify Houston’s talent pipeline. 

The series resumes April 12 with guest Byron Auguste, co-founder and CEO of Opportunity@Work. Auguste will share proven ways employers can strengthen their workforce and talent pipelines by recruiting and hiring workforce talent who develop their skills through alternative routes (STARs) – those other than a four-year bachelor's degree.
Overall, this year's series will focus on three main areas critical to supporting employers’ needs and opening pathways to opportunity and prosperity for Houston’s workforce:
  • Skills-based hiring practices to expand access to new talent and grow internal talent;
  • Navigating the talent pipeline to support strong employer-education partnerships and effective career coaching; and,
  • Understanding labor market trends to strengthen local and regional workforce programs.

All Forums are free to attend.

To join the April 12 session "Talent with Skills = Workforce STARs" register here. See previous Forums here.
Unlocking Doors for Veterans Means Welcoming Skilled Talent
Veterans and transitioning service members are STARs and bring a wealth of experience to the civilian job market but often face challenges in entering the civilian workforce. Their skills and competencies can appear foreign to civilian hiring managers and talent acquisition teams, and so they go overlooked and miss out on good opportunities. In turn, employers unintentionally pass on good talent who have developed strong skills outside of an educational institution.

Each year, more than 200,000 men and women depart the armed forces and return to civilian lives. Roughly 5,000 of them relocate or return to Houston, which, with more than 250,000 veterans in residence, has the country’s second largest and fastest-growing veteran population.

In late 2021, Stephanie Drake, executive director of NextOp, and Carla Thompson, workforce development manager for Turner Industries Group, shared during an UpSkill Works Forum tips and information to help employers recognize, attract and retain veteran talent.

Watch a recording here. Read a recap from the Partnership's Houston Report.
Houston Back on Track, WorkFaith Host First Employer Expo
On March 3, Houston Back on Track co-hosted its first live hiring event in partnership with WorkFaith.

With over 100 jobseekers registered for the job expo and all four of our employer partners participating, this first effort was a huge success. Our community partners referred clients and prepared them for this unique opportunity to interact with decision makers at some of the top employers in Houston. Representatives from HCA Houston Healthcare, Mustang CAT, Primary Services, and Silver Eagle Distributors Houston LLC spoke about their organizations and the roles they are working to fill. Jobseekers were able to upload their resumes before the event and ask direct questions of recruiters.

This session was very much needed. It was clear from all the questions that were asked and the high level of engagement from attendees that people want good jobs and are willing to do hard work to earn them. We are hopeful that a high number of people find great careers because of this special event and plan to hold another in the next few months.

Learn more about Houston Back on Track.
Workforce Development Events & Opportunities
  • Ongoing: Workforce Solutions; Upcoming hiring events and trainings listed by Workforce Solutions
  • Ongoing:; Upcoming training programs listed on BridgeYear's
  • March 29: Future of Texas with State Representatives Ana Hernandez, Armando Walle, and Ann Johnson; This series is an opportunity for Partnership members to engage with elected officials and hear their perspectives on our city and state's most pressing issues
  • April 6: Business Leaders Advancing Skills in Texas (BLAST) virtual series; 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 of Opportunity America and Jane Oates of WorkingNation
  • April 5-7: Port of the Future Conference; This conference focuses on creating and revitalizing the nation's ports, infrastructure, and processes and will address the urgent and immediate issues facing ports of entry, regulators, and associated industries
  • April 7-9: Skills USA Texas College State Leadership and Skills Conference; This event provides and opportunity for employers to meet employable adult students and includes a competition open to college students and those in apprenticeship programs
  • April 12: Talent with Skills = Workforce STARs; UpSkill Houston's UpSkill Works Forum series returns with a conversation with Opportunity@Work co-founder and CEO Byron Auguste about tapping into talent skilled through alternative routes (STARs)
  • April 19: State of Technology; Attendees of this Partnership event will gain insights into the digital transformation that is impacting industries around the world and Houston's growth as a national leader in tech innovation
  • April 23: When I Grow Up (WIGU) Expo; Houston ISD invites employers to share with students and their parents information about good careers within their companies and industries during this year's annual expo
  • 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 of WorkingNation
  • May 20: State of Houston's Global Economy; This Partnership event will provide an analysis of global business and economic trends and their impact on our regional market.
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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