Published Feb 24, 2021 by Susan Moore
In January, UpSkill Houston initiative partner SERJobs broke ground on a new workforce training center that will allow it to provide outreach, education, training and employment placement services to more than 8,000 people by 2022. Construction comes as the region faces continued high unemployment rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.
SERJobs provides education, occupational skills training, financial literacy, and employment assistance to individuals from low-income backgrounds or who have barriers to employment—at no cost to participants.
The nonprofit partners with employers to create tailored programs that equip individuals with skills aligned with real jobs that employers offer. It hosts job fairs and workshops where jobseekers can develop digital literacy skills, work on resumes and cover letters, and prepare for interviews. It provides youth and young adult internship opportunities in partnership with Bank of America and Old Navy along with paid training and work experiences with other area employers. It has programming for veterans and second-chance jobseekers, and offers coaching and a variety of financial education courses to help individuals build credit and assets for generational wealth.
In 2019, SERJobs served roughly 5,660 people across a 12-county area, with a 71 percent employment rate, according to the organization. SERJobs says the new center will allow it to reach an additional 800 individuals annually. It is slated to open in late summer.
The new 20,000-square-foot center will include training labs, classrooms, office space and training equipment. With it, SERJobs will expand training to include construction work in disaster areas and develop new training opportunities based on market demands in areas including IT, cybersecurity, and communication technology. SERJobs has also proposed adding electrical, pipefitting, and computer numerical control (CNC) machining training programs to its existing slate of NCCER, OSHA, banking, and other classes. Training will be conducted by SERJobs staff or contract providers.
SERJobs opened its Workforce Opportunity Center on Telephone Road in Houston’s East End in 2018. Construction of the new center, being built nearby, is supported by Economic Development Administration funds, awarded in 2019, and funding from the Harris County Community Services Department and through SER’s “Investing in the Future” capital campaign.
SERJobs is part of United Way of Greater Houston’s THRIVE network of partners that work collaboratively to provide families with the comprehensive resources, wraparound support and services they need to reach real and lasting financial independence. THRIVE’s network includes more than 20 partners that help individuals acquire skills and education, obtain better jobs, develop good financial habits, and build savings. Partner services range from job-relevant training to assistance accessing reliable transportation to early childhood education programs. Partners collaborate with each other to help individuals connect with services and with employers to provide employment opportunities or to ease transitions. (Related: Community Based Organizations: Where Talent and Opportunity Meet)
In its first 10 years, THRIVE helped more than 211,000 families, with an additional 61,000 families put on the path to financial stability in its eleventh year.
Aligning programs with employers’ needs is critical to helping individuals develop relevant workplace skills and connect with good careers that increase their economic mobility and provide them with better opportunities. Employers can support organizations such as SERJobs and other THRIVE partners by sharing information about the kind of workforce they need communicating the skills that individuals need to succeed. Through this work, employers can ensure that all Houstonians can equip themselves with the skills needed to join the workforce and advance Houston’s position as a great global city.
Connect with SERJobs; learn more about United Way of Greater Houston’s THRIVE coalition.