Bridging the Gap Between Employers and Workforce in Houston

October 29, 2023

UpSkill Houston Forum Series

While Houston has strong economic fundamentals, there is a gap between employers’ needs and workforce availability. The Greater Houston Partnership, leveraging employer leadership, established Upskill Houston in 2014 to develop a robust pipeline of talent for middle-skill careers that pay livable wages.

Learn more about how this business model is working in Houston from Partnership senior vice president of regional workforce development Peter Beard in the attached workforce development playbook.

Career Pathways

In Houston, thousands of jobs are available that offer lucrative wages, great quality of life and require only two years or less of education or training. Career Pathways connect high school and community college students to those opportunities by connecting their interests, aptitudes, and learning styles with career fields that need them. Pathways help students visualize careers, connect them to courses they can take now, and provide real-world experiences. To start exploring career pathways, explore the Curriculum & Registration Guide and speak to your counselors or pathway coordinators.

Businesses are working alongside the community and education sectors to prepare Houstonians for careers that will lead to livable wages and lasting careers. Through industry-led collaborations, the initiative is addressing the information and resources barriers, along with structural and institutional challenges that contribute to the middle skills gap of occupations that require education and skills beyond a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. Through a business-led approach that puts employers at the center of collaborative efforts, UpSkill Houston has proven itself as a model for other communities seeking to build sustainable talent pipelines.

Employer Partnerships

To compete globally, businesses require a talented workforce. In response to this challenge, Greater Houston Partnership – with employer leadership – established UpSkill Houston and Houston Back on Track, jobs-first initiatives focused on building talent pipelines in high-demand occupations in the industries that drive the region’s economy.

To do this, the Partnership focuses on engaging employers to prioritize occupations and align their efforts with education and community stakeholders. This approach provides a structure, resources and convening opportunities to foster collaboration among business, education, and community-based social service organizations.

Upskilling enables workers to learn new skills that improve their job performance, increase productivity and reduce costs through more efficient and effective processes. It also increases employee engagement and retention when employees know that their employer is invested in their professional development. The Partnership employs a business-model called Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) to support and amplify this work. This model builds regional leadership coalitions to prioritize industries, develop career pathways and identify education and community partnerships that are demand driven.

Community Engagement

The Forum Series features conversations with regional business, education and community leaders along with high profile thought leaders on key workforce issues facing the Houston region. This event series supports and advances the UpSkill Houston initiative’s work to help employers identify the skills they need for workers to be successful, provide relevant information about careers and pathways and drive effective career guidance.

The Greater Houston Partnership partnered with local educators and community organizations to launch UpSkill Houston, an employer led initiative that connects people to careers in middle skill jobs – occupations that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four year college degree. The goal is to increase economic opportunity and mobility for area families by focusing on attracting, training and employing individuals into these in-demand occupations. During the first forum, panelists Andrea Hodge (TRIO Electric), Tammy Newman (JPMorgan Chase) and David King (INEOS) shared their in-house apprenticeship programs that support career re-skilling for individuals and create talent pipelines for industry.

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