November/December 2020
How Community Colleges, Employers Can Unlock Education for Adult Learners
The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to Greater Houston's regional economy and workforce. It also accelerated the development and adoption of automation technologies and digital tools Houstonians use to conduct their work. Houstonians are learning new skills as they re-enter the workforce or adapt to the changing nature of work.

Policy-makers, employers and educators are all focusing on adult learners and programs built to help equip them with the skills and credentials they need to move forward with the aim of strengthening education and outcomes. UpSkill Houston is committed to supporting these state-wide and regional efforts as we help all Houstonians develop relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility.
UpSkill Houston Leaders Advise Senate Higher Ed Committee on Adult Learner Student Charge
This fall, Peter Beard, the Partnership's senior vice president of regional workforce development and leader of its UpSkill Houston initiative, and UpSkill Houston executive committee member Dr. Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of San Jacinto College and chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges' executive committee, testified before the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee as it examined existing innovative programs that assist non-traditional students in completing a degree or credential and considered methods the state could use to partner with higher education institutions to expand successful programs.
Click above to watch a video from the Legislative Learning Tour with Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education Chair, Senator Brandon Creighton, from San Jacinto College.
Beard highlighted data and trends around the need for adults to upskill to adapt to the changing nature of work along with examples of employer-sponsored upskilling programs. He also spoke of the critical need for employers to identify the number and type of workers they will need, identify the skills and competencies workers must have to be successful and identify from where they find their talent, and the necessity of strong career support and wrap-around services in ensuring the long-term success of adult learner students. Hellyer told the committee that community colleges are eager to work with the committee to address its charge.

"We believe that the voice of business and industry in our work is critical, and we believe that across the community colleges in the state," she said.
Report: Community Colleges Need to Reboot, Embrace Role as Premier Providers of Workforce Education
This summer, the Washington D.C.-based think tank and policy shop Opportunity America released a report calling upon community colleges to reboot by placing workforce education more at the center of their mission and culture and embrace their role as the nation’s premier provider of job-focused education and training.

In December, Opportunity America President Tamar Jacoby discussed the reboot during an UpSkill Works forum, detailing why building better bridges for students between their credit and non-credit divisions and developing meaningful partnerships between employers and educators will drive better outcomes for traditional students and adult learners.
Labor alignment is the "secret sauce" for nimble workforce-focused programs.
Click above to watch the full UpSkill Works Forum "America's Indispensable Institution - The Role of Community Colleges in Economic Recovery."
How to Design Education Programs That Support Student Success
Many employers offer education benefits to employees, but do they structure programs in ways that help employees truly learn what they need to know and follow them through completion?

Consultant Matthew Daniel with Guild Education, an organization that works with Fortune 1000 employers to address skills gaps and recruitment challenges, shared during an UpSkill Works forum in November ways employers could approach upskilling and employee education programs to benefit employers and employees through better talent attraction and increased employee promotion and retention rates. Daniel stressed the need for employers to build programs around the skills employees need and the skills they need employees to have, and to make education platforms easily accessible. He also emphasized the importance of coaching employees while they worked through programs.
Education providers are looking to build programs that align with business needs.
Click above to watch the full UpSkill Works Forum "Unlock Opportunity for America's Workers Through Education and Lifelong Learning."
UpSkill in the Community
Experiences, Engagement Key to Student Career Exploration
Middle school is a critical time for Texas students to explore their career interests; by the end of eighth grade, they must choose an endorsement that will set the stage for their future education and career pathways.

Texas OnCourse Director Laura Brennan and BridgeYear Co-Founder and Executive Director Victoria Chen shared during the final UpSkill Works forum of the year how their organizations boost awareness of the wealth of career options available to students, and help students identify careers that may be right for them. They shared best practices for partnering with educators and tools that support parents and educators. Their discussion also explored the role employers have in the full career journey - or continuum - from student awareness, to preparation and training, to employee retention or promotion.
The full career journey requires action and interventions from employers and educators.
Click above to watch the full UpSkill Works Forum "Gateways to Career Exploration & Pathways."
Harris County, Non-profits Partner in Free Training Push
Harris County and area training providers have partnered on a new workforce development program that brings free skills development programs to residents for fields including construction, health care, IT and coding, manufacturing, and transportation and automotive repair.

This Harris County Back-to-Work program, announced in November, was developed using CARES Act funds. Participating organizations include UpSkill Houston partners and stakeholders Capital IDEA Houston, Goodwill Industries of Houston, Lone Star College, SERJobs and the Alliance of Community Assisted Ministries (ACAM), as well as WorkTexas!.
Apprenticeship Pilot to Bring Veterans into Solar, Renewable Energy Projects
Adaptive Construction Solutions, Inc. (ACS) and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. are partnering to identify and enroll veterans with military occupational specialties in an apprenticeship program that can lead to full-time employment at the construction firm. McCarthy will pilot the program on utility-scale solar and renewable energy projects.

The Houston area is home to more than 100 solar-related companies and over 30 wind-related companies. The McCarthy Renewable Energy & Storage group will construct more than 1.8 gigawatts of clean energy projects across the United States in the coming year and hire almost 1,000 craft professionals for the year's construction projects, according to the company. UpSkill Houston partner ACS is a veteran-owned and staffed organization that sponsors an employer-centric U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Community-based Registered Apprenticeship program for occupations in multiple industries.
Learning Opportunities & Events
  • Jan. 25-29, 2021: Career Camp; General Assembly presents five days of free educational workshops and inspiring speakers and panel sessions for job seekers and career climbers
  • Jan. 26: Partnership Annual Meeting; Incoming Partnership chair Amy Chronis will outline how the Partnership’s strategic plan, Houston Next, has been reframed to address the greater Houston region’s key challenges to ensure Houston is set to strengthen its position as a truly global city during the Partnership's Annual Meeting. Partnership President and CEO Bob Harvey and outgoing chair Bobby Tudor will also address members.
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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