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Partnership, United Way Build Coaching Community 

Published Jul 12, 2022 by Susan Moore

Online learning and collaboration depicted by hands gesturing toward a computer screen

United Way of Greater Houston and the Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative have convened the first cohort of career coaches from across the region to provide professional training to strengthen their capacity and skills.

The cohort evolved from discussions among United Way of Greater Houston’s workforce coaching network and UpSkill Houston leaders around how to empower area residents and students to navigate a rapidly changing labor market successfully. The cohort will advance work already underway by United Way and UpSkill Houston to provide coaches additional support and to build a coaching community of practice. Training is being offered through the Skilling America learning platform and is meant to help greater Houston coaches explore new, innovative ways to work with and support clients to obtain better jobs and careers and improve their economic mobility. Effective career coaching and guidance is a key pillar of UpSkill Houston’s long-term strategy to help all Houstonians develop relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility.

Skilling America’s e-learning platform provides competency-based training on coaching tools, technology, data, and methods complete with a resource library and community forum space for coaches to connect with peer navigators. The standardized training sets forth a common language and offers best practices and will help the region’s coaches support clients struggling to navigate the workforce system, rebounding from life events, and looking to upskill and advance into better careers. 

“Developing a shared language and approach to career coaching is critically important as we build a collaborative community of practice. Our vision is that, regardless of size and resources, all agencies will be equipped to provide the same level of quality services throughout the region. This platform helps us get there,” said Aaron Sturgeon, senior financial literacy program manager with United Way of Greater Houston.

Houston’s cohort will work through the courses and meet as a professional learning community to discuss the concepts and lessons, and how to apply them in coaching settings.
The training modules can be helpful for new coaches but also as a tool for agencies to leverage, David Fernandez, program manager with The Alliance, a Houston non-profit serving refugee, immigrant and other underserved populations, and United Way workforce coaching work group facilitator, told the cohort.

“The platform modules were designed by practitioners for practitioners, he said, with much of the information “immediately actionable and relevant to the work that you’re doing,” he said.

Skilling America is a national initiative born out of training piloted by Hope Street Group and Goodwill Industries Inc. The use of the platform in Houston was proposed by Goodwill Industries of Houston and assessed by United Way workforce coaching network leaders. United Way and the Partnership’s collaboration to provide additional training for coaches is partially funded through a grant from Texas Mutual Insurance. 

The Partnership’s UpSkill Houston initiative works to strengthen the talent pipeline employers need to grow their businesses and to help all Houstonians build relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. United Way of Greater Houston, Goodwill Industries of Houston, The Alliance, and Texas Mutual Insurance are among the initiative’s more than 200 employer, education, and non-profit partners across the region. Learn more.

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