UpSkill Houston supports our industries' efforts to develop the talent they require for economic competitiveness and ensures our residents share in our region's prosperity.
The Houston region has experienced incredible growth over the last several years. Led by a resurgence in energy, petrochemicals, manufacturing, life sciences, and construction, the region’s economy has been widely acclaimed as one of opportunity. However, leaders from across the business community have identified one of the region's most pressing issues as finding qualified workers for good jobs vital to the success of our industries.
Houston's skills gap has reached critical proportions among middle-skill jobs—those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. Of Houston's 3.6 million jobs, 1.4 million—or approximately 40 percent— are considered middle-skill positions.
The mounting challenge for greater Houston’s industries equals potential advancement for its citizens. UpSkill Houston helps to ensure that unemployed and underemployed workers as well as young people in Greater Houston have the skills and opportunities to build successful careers, stabilize their families, and improve their lives.
In June 2014, the Greater Houston Partnership created UpSkill Houston—among the nation’s first business-led collaborations working with education and community stakeholders—to close Houston’s skills gap by aligning collective efforts to pursue three fundamental objectives:
The Greater Houston Partnership launched UpSkill Houston in mid-2014.
UpSkill Houston helps break down barriers, foster open dialogue, and create a singular vision to power solutions that prepare Houston's workforce for good-paying middle-skill jobs in high demand across the region.
With business executives and employers leading the way, UpSkill Houston seeks to increase the number of area citizens trained for rewarding careers in seven sectors critical to the region's economy.
Members of UpSkill Houston's Executive Committee at one of their bimonthly meetings to strengthen coordination and set policy.
UpSkill Houston provides resources, structure, and convening opportunities to foster region- and sector-wide collaboration among employers and educational institutions, as well as training and service providers (community-based organizations and government agencies). This approach encourages different groups addressing the same problem to establish a common goal, align their efforts, pursue separate tactics, and share results. It has helped reinforce existing efforts and spark new coalitions.
A governing executive committee of 32 members brings together a broad spectrum of players and keeps UpSkill Houston on course. The executive committee strengthens coordination among initiative participants, considers new services, sets policy positions, and designs experimental prototypes. Sector councils, organized by business for business, oversee industry-specific tactics to build the talent pipeline for future success.
Since its founding in June 2014, UpSkill Houston has laid a strong foundation, steadily built the necessary infrastructure, and begun to experience results in closing the middle-skills gap in Houston’s regional economy.
PENNY PRITZKER, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, visits LyondellBassell's training center while in town for an UpSkill Houston meeting.
A highly active employer-led petrochemical sector council has helped significantly increase enrollment in petrochemical courses at community colleges and raise completion rates for degrees and credit and non-credit certificates for technical programs. A growing construction sector council has implemented several successful prototypes for identifying, training, and placing workers in middle-skill positions in industrial and commercial construction. Meanwhile, UpSkill Houston has engaged partners in the health care industry to establish that sector council.
The initiative also launched UpSkillHouston.org, a comprehensive tool to help change perceptions and improve awareness about middle-skill careers across the region. The website provides information on numerous middle-skill jobs, training and educational requirements, salary ranges, and career pathways. In addition, UpSkill Houston continues to receive national recognition for its work, including from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Talent Pipeline Management Initiative and the U.S. Department of Commerce and Aspen Institute's Communities That Work Partnership.
Click here for a complete list of key accomplishments.
The momentum we've built for UpSkill Houston couldn't have been achieved without many committed partners working toward a two-part goal: a stronger Houston economy and prosperity for its residents. UpSkill Houston's major funding partners are:
Are you up for closing Houston's middle-skills gap and accelerating economic vitality in the region? Then join UpSkill Houston. Work with leaders from industry, community-based organizations, community colleges, K-12 school systems, philanthropy, and government agencies to expand the pipeline of skilled talent for high-demand industries. There is power in unity; no one player can address this issue alone.
UpSkill Houston seeks leaders like you to:
Getting involved in UpSkill Houston will: