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Workforce Development

With a labor force more than 3 million workers strong, the Houston area offers a wide variety of talent at all skill levels. But there is also a regional focus on developing tomorrow's workforce through educating young people on emerging industries and re-training mid-career professionals for high-demand careers. Houston has developed a strong bridge between the talent needs of various industries and the educational programs being offered through colleges, universities and technical programs. 

33.3 percent

One-third of Houstonians 25 years and older is a college graduate

500+

Houston is home to over 500 digital technology companies

25,000+

Local workforce of Houston's top 100 digital tech companies

Higher Education

The Houston region is home to more than 20 universities and colleges, including three Tier 1 universities. Houston-area colleges and universities educate nearly 230,000 students annually and graduated more than 56,000 students. In addition, another estimated 200,000 students are enrolled annually in local community and technical colleges. 

Local Universities

Institution

Texas A&M University-College Station

Undergraduate enrollment: 50,707

University of Houston

Undergraduate enrollment: 36,092

Sam Houston State University

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,416

Lamar University

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,129

University of Houston-Downtown

Undergraduate enrollment: 12,079

Texas Southern University

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,967

Prairie View A&M University

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,974

University of Houston-Clear Lake

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,798

Rice University

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,970

UT Health Science Center-Houston

Graduate enrollment: 4,533

University of Houston-Victoria, Katy Campus

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,317

Houston Baptist University

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,316

UT Medical Branch-Galveston

Graduate enrollment: 2,569

University of St. Thomas

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,864

Texas A&M Health Science Center

Graduate enrollment: 2,295

University of Phoenix-Texas

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,256

Texas A&M University at Galveston

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,848

Baylor College of Medicine

Graduate enrollment: 1,577

Art Institute of Houston

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,364

South Texas College of Law Houston

Graduate enrollment: 980

UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,577

Community Colleges

Institution

Lone Star College System

Undergraduate enrollment: 69,452

Houston Community College

Undergraduate enrollment: 49,782

San Jacinto Community College District

Undergraduate enrollment: 35,455

Blinn College District

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,465

Lee College

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,717

Wharton County Junior College

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,050

Alvin Community College

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,709

College of the Mainland Community College District

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,328

Brazosport College

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,229

Lamar Institute of Technology

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,983

Galveston College

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,197

Texas State Technical College-Fort Bend

Undergraduate enrollment: 412

Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions

The Gulf Coast Workforce Board and its operating affiliate Workforce Solutions are the public workforce system in the 13-county Houston-Galveston region of Texas. Workforce Solutions helps employers meet their human resource needs and individuals build careers, so both can compete in the global economy. In 2017, the organization served more than 426,000 individuals across the region.

Closing the Skills Gap with UpSkill

The Greater Houston Partnership developed UpSkill Houston, a comprehensive, industry-led approach to bridge the gap and fill jobs in “middle-skills” occupations, advanced technical and craft careers that require education and skills development beyond high school but less than a four-year college degree. UpSkill Houston is an innovative blueprint for leaders from the business community, educational institutions and social service organizations to utilize as we lead this effort to build a quality workforce.

Skill Development Fund

The Skills Development Fund is Texas' premier job-training program providing local customized training opportunities for Texas businesses and workers to increase skill levels and wages of the Texas workforce. The Texas Workforce Commission administers funding for the program. Success is achieved through collaboration among businesses, public community and technical colleges, Workforce Development Boards and economic development partners.

Related News

Construction

The Apprenticeship: An Underutilized Tool for Employers in an Uncertain World

6/28/21
Following the adage ‘measure twice and cut once’ helps avoid the need to rework a project. In many cases, employers outsource their skills training to the education sector and hope for skilled talent to show up at the front door ready to work – only to find themselves needing to retrain individuals. Employers who utilize apprenticeship models, which blend education with paid work and mentorship, are building an entry-level workforce with the job-related and so-called “soft” skills they need; these employers are developing talent to their unique specifications and are seeing a return on their investment. Apprenticeships in the United States are widely associated with trade and craft occupations including carpenters, pipefitters, and industrial machinery mechanics. The work-based-learning apprenticeship model, however, is an underutilized tool in other industries and can lend itself well to a much broader scope of job roles (e.g., customer service representatives, human resource specialists, medical transcriptionist, insurance underwriters, and sales representatives), while closing skills gaps and creating economic opportunity and mobility. Research conducted by Harvard Business School’s Managing the Future of Work project and Burning Glass Technologies and presented in the paper “Room to Grow: Identifying New Frontiers for Apprenticeships” explores the scope of potential for apprenticeships in the economy, revealing great opportunities for expanding and boosting the model to new industries and occupations. Houston’s employers can derive great benefit from working together to increase the use of apprenticeships in the region and support a more resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. Through apprenticeships, employers can build the skilled workers they need while fostering a stream of talent for the future with multiple business, social, and economic benefits. “You’re cultivating human assets of the future. Treat [your apprenticeship program] like an asset, invest in it, install it, understand how to work with it. Don't treat it like an expense,” Harvard Business School professor and co-leader of the Managing the Future of Work project Joseph B. Fuller said during an UpSkill Houston initiative UpSkill Works Forum conversation with Mary Beth Gracy, office managing director of professional services company Accenture.   Building future talent through apprenticeships The general population tends to stigmatize or downplay jobs associated with apprenticeships because they do not require a bachelor’s degree; however, these jobs are critical to employers, and they pay a living wage. Employers who have specifically built apprenticeships develop a pipeline of highly skilled talent to meet business and industry needs. Dow is a major employer that cultivates talent for some of the most sought-after technical specialties in the industry through its robust U.S. apprenticeship program blending formal education and paid on-the-job training. Dow partners with local community colleges, including Brazosport College, locally, where apprentices receive classroom instruction and in-depth, hands-on training as they work toward earning an associate degree. Dow’s apprenticeships are certified with the U.S. Department of Labor, so individuals who complete programs become certified apprentices at the national level, meaning that their work and accomplishments would be recognized by employers beyond the company, Rich Wells, a vice president at Dow, explains in a program introduction. “This is not an alternative to college, but rather a pathway to a debt-free associate degree and ultimately a robust career,” Wells says. Fuller noted during the Forum that the work experience an apprentice gains can be invaluable for the apprentice but also even to an employer that did not sponsor the apprenticeship program. Employers can feel more confident in hiring a candidate who can show real job exposure over a candidate who cannot, he said. Apprenticeships give employers a greater opportunity to assess a worker’s job skills and ability to learn than does a job interview, allowing employers to “test” a potential employee before hiring them for a full-time job – generally at a lower cost than hiring first and “testing” second. What’s more, Fuller said, apprentices are productive, and employers benefit from their work. Historically, in Europe, apprentices have been safe from workforce reductions because they represent a good return on investment, he said. Employers have used apprenticeships effectively to boost diversity and expand underrepresented populations in their workforce, including women, veterans, and second chance jobseekers; one recent example is S&B Engineers and Constructors’ initiative to bring more women into skilled craft professions. “Companies with apprenticeship programs very often report higher levels of engagement by their incumbent staff because they see that investments are being made in trying to both bring in young talent, but also to lift people up, and that's motivating for anyone to see,” Fuller said.   Recognizing potential for apprenticeship programs Research conducted by Harvard and Burning Glass Technologies identified 27 jobs in the United States that are strongly influenced by apprenticeship programs, mainly in the construction and mining industries, but an additional 47 jobs – for a total of 74 – that have the potential to be effectively staffed through an apprenticeship model. These occupations require clearly defined hard, job-related skills that can be taught through specialized training and are generally jobs that are not heavily licensed – requirements for state licensure can limit a worker’s geographic mobility. The positions identified by Harvard and Burning Glass tend to have lower-than-average turnover – potentially making the return on investment through an apprenticeship more attractive to an employer – and pay a living wage of $15 per hour or more. Nearly half of these jobs require skills that can be learned without a bachelor’s degree; this set includes customer service representatives, tax preparers, and photovoltaic installers. And many of them are hard to fill, meaning employers could benefit from developing a pipeline of talent ready for hire. For the rest, a bachelor’s degree is usually requested or preferred among job candidates though the general skills utilized on the job do not differ significantly between postings that require a bachelor’s degree and those that do not. This also suggests overall that these skills could be learned through an apprenticeship approach in contrast to requiring a bachelor’s degree and the wage premium an employer may pay. This group includes insurance underwriters, database administrators, and human resource specialists. Many of the 74 jobs where apprenticeships are prevalent or that represent potential for apprenticeship expansion are among the nearly 50 “middle-skill” occupations within greater Houston’s economy with projected high-demand, high-volume need in the coming years identified in UpSkill Houston’s 2020 “Middle Skills Matter to Greater Houston” report.   New network supports Houston apprenticeship programs Organizations ready to start apprenticeship programs can find support from the Greater Houston Apprentice Network (GHAN), a coalition of Houston employers, educators and non-profits powered by Accenture and Aon. Using education and non-profit relationships and an apprenticeship playbook, this network, which includes the Greater Houston Partnership, will help organizations define visions for their programs, identify best-fit roles for apprenticeships within their organizations, and develop and execute their program models. “Apprenticeships are a tried-and-true model that is scalable for any organization,” Dawn Spreeman-Heine, a Managing Director of Corporate Risk Solutions at Aon’s Houston office, said during the Forum. “You really don't have to start from scratch.”   The GHAN will hold an official launch event and information session in August 2021 featuring employers who have launched successful apprenticeship programs, apprentices, and workforce development leaders. UpSkill Houston is the Partnership’s nationally recognized, employer-led initiative that mobilizes the collective action of employers, educators, and community-based leaders to strengthen the talent pipeline the region’s employers need to grow their businesses and to help all Houstonians develop relevant skills and connect to good careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. Its “My Life As…” career awareness series features stories shared by apprentices in construction and petrochemical manufacturing fields at TRIO Electric, Dow and INEOS. See them here. See all previous UpSkill Works forums here.
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Economic Development

Texas Sets Stage for Education, Economic Success

6/21/21
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. UpSkill Houston is the Partnership’s nationally recognized, employer-led initiative that mobilizes the collective action of employers, educators and community-based leaders to strengthen the talent pipeline of skilled workers employers need and to create better pathways to opportunity and prosperity for all Houstonians. Learn how.  
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Living in Houston

Houston offers a low cost of living while maintaining an incredibly rich quality of life with the amenities you expect to find in a world-class city.

Talent

Houston offers a highly educated and ever-growing workforce skilled in both traditional and emerging industries.

Research

The Partnership's Research team are experts on the region's economy and key demographic trends.

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Economic Development
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