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Report: Middle Skills Matter to Greater Houston

Published Apr 29, 2020 by Susan Moore

A new labor market report underscores the long-term and critical role of middle-skill occupations in positioning the Houston region to be competitive in the 21st century and creating economic opportunity for its residents.

The report, titled “Middle Skills Matter to Greater Houston,” offers an analysis of Greater Houston’s labor market using historical trends and models to project* long-term employment trends at a time when the regional and national economies were growing and near or at full employment levels. Within the last month, the regional and national economies have shed a significant number of jobs as a result of COVID-19. The specific economic and employment impacts of COVID-19 are profoundly serious and still evolving. The full effects will not be known for several months, and only time will tell how quickly the Houston or national economies will recover.

Even in this context, the long-term strategic nature of “Middle Skills Matter to Greater Houston” offers insights for the current and future strategies — over the next two to five years — of a variety of stakeholders who develop and support the educational curricula, skills instruction, and career guidance required to attract, train, place, and grow workers in crucial middle-skill occupations. Lessons also exist for those who communicate to broad audiences about the availability of and pathways to these careers.

Key Findings in Brief: 

  • Nearly 50 middle-skill occupations in Greater Houston should be considered “good jobs” because they are in high demand, need a high volume of workers, and pay livable wages that exceed the region’s overall median wage.
  • Middle skills matter in Greater Houston, as evidenced by the region’s utilization of the core middle-skill workforce.
  • The region’s last wave of rapid job growth included meaningful growth in middle-skill occupations, and this trend is expected to continue into the future*.
  • Eight regional industry clusters have particularly strong concentrations of middle-skill employees.
  • Keeping in mind the nearly 50 good jobs and eight industry clusters with strong concentrations of middle-skill occupations will help the region’s employers, educators, leaders of community-based organizations, executives at philanthropies, and government officials in developing strategies now for the recovery effort needed in the months ahead.

UpSkill Houston engaged TEConomy Partners, LLC to conduct the research highlighted in this report and in additional reports to follow. TEConomy conducted this analysis in the summer of 2019.

The full report can be downloaded here
 

*The projections for demand are based on historical trends and models and, therefore, may have limitations. They can be influenced by several factors including current economic conditions and workers switching to new careers or retiring, thereby creating vacancies.

Executive Partners