October 2020
Language Makes a Difference in Navigating Career Pathways
What is the difference between having a job and a career? In upskilling rather than reskilling? According to a new poll of American workers, perception – and perception matters when helping individuals seek employment and employment pathways.

Fifty percent of the 800 workers sampled in the new WorkingNation American Workers Survey reported that they believe they have a job as opposed to a career, but 72 percent of workers said they would rather have a career than a job. These findings align with conclusions drawn from UpSkill Houston’s own focus group research, and underscore why educators and career coaches or counselors should talk about particular jobs or job opportunities – particularly when speaking with students or young adults – in the context of growing a career: Having a job is good but having a career is better.

The survey teased out differences along age and educational lines – younger, less educated workers were far more likely to call their work a job (rather than a career) than their older, better educated counterparts. Black and Hispanic workers tended to see their work as a job while white workers were more likely to call their work a career.

“It’s really important to talk about that that concept of a career instead of just the job,” said WorkingNation President Jane Oates during an UpSkill Works Forum on survey takeaways held in this month. “We’ve been talking ‘career pathways’ for years, and it has resonated. People understand that they might have to take an entry-level job, but they want to build that career.”

Another important semantic distinction emerged during the discussion: The term “upskilling” has a much more positive connotation than the term “re-skilling.”

Said Oates: “We have heard from people that re-skilling gives you the feeling that something you already mastered is obsolete or unnecessary, whereas upskilling gives you the feeling that you can build on your accomplishments.”

The language we use to encourage students and workers to pursue new skills and opportunities is important. Focusing on the goal of building a career versus getting a job and leveraging the positive perception of upskilling will resonate.
Community Based Organizations Hold the Key to Finding Talent, Employment
According to the new WorkingNation American Workers Survey, 56 percent of workers said they didn’t know whether there were local training programs nearby that could help them get the skills they need and into available jobs they might want. These individuals may be missing out on a wealth of development and support

Workers who don’t know about these opportunities could be missing out on gaining the skills and credentials they need to grow their careers, especially those offered by the region's community-based organizations.
Community-based organizations use the relationships with employers and each other to connect talent with opportunity
This week, Eric Goodie, Houston Area Urban League vice president for growth and sustainability, Mary Silbert, Northwest Assistance Ministries learning center director, and Samantha Sherman, Wesley Community Center chief program officer, described during an UpSkill Works Forum how their organizations' align with the needs of employers to provide training that's relevant while providing financial coaching and more services to support individuals and families.

The discussion included information about current programs and partners.

UpSkill Houston, Rice Partner to Assess Career Awareness Among Houston Students
UpSkill Houston has been working to boost awareness of good, but less well-known, career options in the regional economy that require education and skills beyond a high school diploma and less a than four-year college degree.

The initiative and undergraduate students at Rice University have partnered to gather data and gauge the knowledge and understanding Houston students have of career options available to them in the regional economy. Serving as consultants for UpSkill Houston, successive teams of Rice students have designed, developed and deployed an ongoing survey program to gather quantitative and qualitative data on how UpSkill Houston is working to change perceptions and awareness of the good careers in Houston.

The research will not only help UpSkill Houston stakeholders understand what middle and high school students know about their career options, but also provides Rice students with a practical consulting experience that could shape their own career pursuits while still in college.
Education and Career Exploration Combine for Houston Students
Students in one Houston high school have embarked on a very different learning experience this year: They’re being tasked with real-world problems to solve for local employers through curricula that embeds career exploration with high school studies.

Ninth graders at Houston Independent School District’s Stephen F. Austin High School are the first students in Houston to experience school through the 3DE model by Junior Achievement, which utilizes competency-based case method to drive student engagement and academic performance and expands access for students to local employers and equips them with the knowledge and foundational skills for success in the business world.
Job shadows, like this with Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, are among the ways the 3DE by Junior Achievement model connects education and career exploration. Photo from Junior Achievement.
Nearly one-third of workers polled in the new WorkingNation American Workers Survey said they never had a discussion about a future career with a parent or a teacher. The 3DE model re-imagines education in a way that makes it career relevant for students and increases their economic opportunity.
Partnership Leads New Initiative to Aim Hire Texas
"Aim Hire Texas" is the goal and the name of a new statewide initiative to close gaps preventing many Texans from finding good, high-paying careers that employers seek to fill, expanding economic opportunities now and in the future.

This collaborative effort lead by Texas 2036 and the Commit Partnership creates a center focused on aligning Texas's talent with workforce needs for future decades and promoting attractive and enduring careers for residents. It will support and expand programs that provide skills training from traditional and new public and private sources, ensuring that Texans who need a 21st-century job can find one, and employers can access a growing talent pool to meet their needs.

The Greater Houston Partnership is among the coalition's founding partners.

“Talent is a strategic economic asset for Texas. The better we do to prepare workers with the skills that the 21st century demands, the stronger our economy will be,” said Bob Harvey, Partnership president and CEO. “That process of building skills begins before someone enters kindergarten, and it never really ends. Aim Hire Texas will help ensure Texas’s pipeline of creativity, innovation, hard work and talent remains our most competitive asset.”
Learning Opportunities & Events
  • Oct. 30: Talent Forward; This U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference will explore how the business community has strengthened our outlook on the future, and how its leadership will foster innovations in the new economy; Greater Houston Partnership Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development Peter Beard is a panelist
  • Nov. 4: UpSkill Works Forum: Unlock Unlock Opportunity for America’s Workers through Education and Lifelong Learning; Guild Education's Matthew Daniel will discuss how employers can achieve greater educational impact for their employees by offering tuition and education as a benefit
  • Nov. 5-8: Hiring Red, White & You!; This virtual job fair from Workforce Solutions in partnership with the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Veterans Commission and the Texas Medical Center is an opportunity for veterans to connect with area employers and service organizations that support veterans and military families
  • Nov. 10: State of Energy; Energy leaders will discuss during this Partnership panel how Houston is maintaining its position as the Energy Capital of the World
  • Nov: 12: State of the County; Harris County Judge Lena Hidalgo will share her initiatives and address local work during this Partnership event
  • Nov. 19: The Greater Houston Partnership's Golf Classic; The Partnership's executive-level tournament is an excellent opportunity to nurture business relationships in a causal, fun atmosphere
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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