August 2020
"My Life As..." Career Series Features CDL Drivers
Commercial truck drivers keep Houston moving, delivering goods to customers ranging from grocery stores to construction sites to hospitals. According to Partnership data, more than 258,600 individuals in the region are employed in transportation and material moving. As COVID-19 began its spread across the United States, movement of essential consumer goods increased, as did the demand for medical-related supplies, according to the American Transportation Research Institute. The Texas Workforce Commission lists heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers as one of its top 10 targeted occupations.
UpSkill Houston is proud to launch two new additions to the “My Life As …” career exploration library featuring two city drivers with FedEx Freight: Jaret Holmes and Mary Kelldorf.

Holmes and Kelldorf both began their working lives in other industries but wanted to change careers. They each describe how driving can open doors to other opportunities within FedEx – yet they choose to continue driving and delivering the freight on which their customers depend. They also discuss safety and communication as key skills for success.
Holmes started with FedEx by driving forklifts but soon enrolled in a company training program to become a driver. He learned how to operate tractor-trailers safely and obtained his commercial driver’s license (CDL) and the driving endorsements he needed to start this new career. Kelldorf had been around trucks all her life but never thought of driving one for a career. But once she tried it, she was hooked. She enjoys the freedom driving affords her, the pay and building relationships with her customers.
Both stories and associated career resources can be seen on our website
Microsoft, Houston to Expand Access to Digital Skills Tools to Support Worker Recovery, Student Success
City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner with representatives of Microsoft and other partners during the Accelerate: Houston press event Aug. 24, 2020
Last week, the City of Houston and Microsoft announced an expansion of their digital alliance and with it a new initiative to create economic opportunity, close equity and skills gaps and prepare the region’s workforce for the 21st century.

The new “Accelerate” program is part of Microsoft's Global Skills Initiative to help 25 million people worldwide acquire new digital skills by the close of the year, announced earlier this summer. It comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the fundamental change in the education and skills needed to be successful in the workforce and laid bare a digital divide among workers and students.

Accelerate: Houston will provide programs to help transitioning workers and veterans upskill, reskill and enhance their digital skills and prepare for opportunities in new technologies. It will provide K-12 schools with technology content and industry certifications mapped to student skill development. And the program will offer digital literacy training and modern workplace training for educators.

UpSkill Houston is among the civic, corporate and education partners supporting this new initiative. Houston ISD schools will participate in the program and work with Microsoft to develop curriculum this school year.

"Our students are going to learn skills that will help them for a lifetime," Dr. Grenita Lathan, HISD interim superintendent and member of UpSkill Houston's executive committee, said during a program press conference.

Having strong digital skills is becoming increasingly necessary for all workers, regardless of their industry, occupation or education level, and we must ensure that all workers have the access needed to enhance their existing skills. Accelerate: Houston will expand access to in-demand digital skills, helping all Houstonians prepare for and connect with good jobs that increase their economic opportunity and prosperity.

Read more about Accelerate: Houston on Microsoft's business blog.

(Image credit: City of Houston)
Re-Imagining Talent Finance: The Time is Now
The skills needed by a workforce to remain competitive and successful are rapidly changing and emerging to keep pace with dynamic and swift economic changes. As the “half-life” of skills shrinks, continuous investment in talent and skill development will become more crucial, timely – and challenging.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is launching a new initiative to build an innovative talent finance solution that fits the modern, changing economy and nature of work. The Foundation and several partners, including the Partnership through Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development Peter Beard, are exploring a new public-private approach to talent finance – one that would support an economy that competes on talent and expands opportunity and inclusion in this new economy.

The Chamber will release a background paper describing the need for a new public-private approach on Sept. 22. It will hold in September and October a series of topical forums to gather feedback on the paper and build awareness of the opportunities and potential for testing innovative partnerships in regional markets. Forum participants will include representatives from the Chamber community and financial services sector; experts from the fields of finance and lending, data and technology, and HR and accounting; and representatives of prominent think tanks and foundations exploring employer-led investment strategies and tools.

Now is the time to invest and talent finance is the conversation of our time.

Read more about the initiative on the Houston Report blog here.
Learning Opportunities & Events
  • Sept. 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29: OneHouston Together series; From the Partnership comes a new series focused on racism and systemic inequities to foster a desire within participants to embark on their own personal learning journeys and apply that knowledge to their lives and work
  • Sept. 1: USMCA Day; This Partnership conference explores how the newly instituted United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will impact energy, tech, aerospace, exports and global trade
  • Sept. 18: State of Education; During this Partnership event, Texas Higher Education Board Commissioner Harrison Keller will speak about innovations within the Coordinating Board and what to expect in the state's higher education system post-COVID-19
  • Sept. 25: State of the Houston Region; The Partnership will bring together a panel of county judges for a conversation around emergency preparedness and coordination
  • Oct. 2: State of the Airports; The Partnership presents this look at where Houston's airport system is heading
  • Oct. 13: State of the Port; Houston Port Chair Ric Campo will discuss during this Partnership virtual broadcast how global trade, the energy downtown and discussions around deepening and widening the Houston Ship Channel are impacting the port
Readings & Resources

Led by and for employers, UpSkill Houston builds the pipeline of skilled workers to grow the regional economy and provide opportunity for all Houstonians.
Received this as a forward?
Have feedback or comments to share?