Published Jun 21, 2021 by Susan Moore
State lawmakers have handed business and industry leaders a future-focused win. By aligning the work of the state’s three major education and workforce bodies, Texas and Texans are now set up for better workforce development outcomes and long-term economic success.
In signing the Texas Education and Workforce Alignment Act in June, building upon the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, Gov. Greg Abbott has formalized existing cooperative efforts between the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to develop a robust, accurate, and timely labor market infrastructure that supports planning, improves performance, and assists individuals and employers with navigating the changing nature of work.
This boon to employers, educators, and workforce development practitioners across the state – and by extension, students and job seekers – comes amid an uneven recovery from the economic crisis driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the acceleration of a fundamental shift toward technology-enabled, innovation-based economies already underway in Houston and across Texas.
Creating a formal, coordinated infrastructure will optimize resources and drive performance across TEA, THECB, and TWC. It will provide a framework for establishing state workforce development goals developed in consultation with employers, including employment targets for jobs that pay a self-sufficient wage for all career education and training programs within the state, as well as the capabilities to measure and improve them. It will also support the development of a unified workforce data repository with publicly available resources and tools to identify and analyze key education and workforce movement and trends.
The established structure makes employer insights into current and projected demand for specific roles and job types – along with specific skills and skills areas they will need workers to have – central to the development of workforce goals. Education systems and training providers in greater Houston and across the state will be able to use aggregated industry data to align their programs with real and real-time workforce needs to ensure program participants can earn the right industry certification and credentials and develop relevant essential (soft), digital, and technical skills.
The initiative will also collect data marking the progress toward accomplishing established workforce development goals disaggregated by public schools and higher education campuses, workforce regions and counties. Education systems, training providers and others will be able to use this data to identify effective programs and learn best practices.
These provisions will help educators and workforce development practitioners build a workforce Texas and its regional economies needed to grow and compete globally. In turn, this will ensure individual prosperity and economic mobility.
Companion bills to formalize the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative were introduced by Houston-based Republicans State Sen. Paul Bettencourt and State Rep. Jim Murphy and moved through their respective chambers during the 87th Legislative Session with strong bi-partisan support. This legislation builds upon workforce development efforts made in 2019 to increase collaboration between business, higher education and government. This effort heightened awareness of the vital role of business leaders and employers have in the workforce development conversation and in building skilled talent fit for the future.
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