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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. 


Houston is home to 21 Forbes Global 2000 headquarters

1.5 million

Number of Houstonians 25 years or older with a bachelor degree


City of Houston has a combined sales and use tax rate of 8.25 percent

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


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


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

Workforce Development

Texas Academy Builds Statewide Network to Drive Effective Workforce Development

Amid the pandemic and significant job loss across Houston and Texas, workforce development stakeholders from regions across the state have come together (virtually) to learn proven strategies for building sustainable talent pipelines that will help Texans access greater economic opportunity and help employers tap into high-quality talent. In April, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched the Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM) Academy of Texas, a six-month-long program designed to teach existing leaders how to better drive partnerships with educational and training providers based on industry need and to improve career pathways for the current workforce and individuals just entering it. It is supported in the state by an alliance of state workforce and education leaders, including the Partnership, Educate Texas and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. TPM® academies have also been held in other states including Michigan, Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina (previous cohorts have had national representation, too), but as one of the largest states in population, geography and economy, Texas faces workforce challenges across its diverse regions that combine into a similarly superlative need for skilled talent.  TPM® is a demand-driven, employer-led approach to closing the skills gap. It encourages employers to undertake an “extended leadership role as ‘end-customers’ of education and workforce partners.” The TPM framework is comprised of six strategies that build off one another and support employers in developing data- and performance-driven approaches to improving education and workforce partnerships: organizing employer collaboratives; engaging in demand planning; communicating competency and credential requirements; analyzing talent flows; building talent supply chains; and continuously improving.  A Texas-centric TPM Academy® provides a great opportunity for these diverse regions with different economic drivers to work together to address critical workforce issues and strengthen the state’s overall competitiveness. In addition, this work will benefit Texas as it works to achieve its 60x30TX goal – to have at least 60 percent of Texans between 25 and 34 years old to hold a certificate or degree by the year 2030. With nearly 1 million unemployed Texans in August 2020, the TPM strategies can assist cities and regions in their recovery and strengthening the skills of individuals.  “The TPM Academy® of Texas is laying a statewide groundwork to build the employer and business leadership necessary to increase alignment and strengthen local and regional capability to address the skills gap,” says Greater Houston Partnership Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development Peter Beard, who serves as Academy faculty. “UpSkill Houston has used the TPM strategies to strengthen employer leadership in Houston and build stronger partnerships with education and community partners.” Thirty individuals representing local chambers of commerce, non-profits and colleges, consultancies and economic development agencies are participating in the Texas cohort including regional members. Bryant Black, Partnership director of Regional Workforce Development; UpSkill Houston executive committee members Dr. Allatia Harris, vice chancellor of Strategic Initiatives – Workforce, Community Relationships and Diversity, and Andrew Van Chau, executive board member of the Gulf Coast Economic Development District and Katy-Fulshear Area Chamber of Commerce; and Keri Schmidt, president and CEO of the Fort Bend Chamber. Others participating also hail from Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, El Paso, Lubbock, San Antonio, Texarkana, and Waco, among other cities, large and small. The Texas cohort has begun work to address workforce needs in key industries including health care, advanced manufacturing and aerospace.  In addition to Beard, faculty include Jaimie Francis, executive director, and Niki DaSilva, manager, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce. Other faculty members include the authors of the TPM Academy curriculum, Jason Tyszko, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Vice President for the Center for Education and Workforce, and Robert G. Sheets, George Washington Institute of Public Policy research professor, as well as other renowned workforce development leaders from across the country. Recently, the Center for Education and Workforce released a Resource Guide for High-Quality CTE (Career and Technical Education) to build stronger employer and CTE partnerships and a Resource Guide for Connecting Opportunity Population Talent to Better Career Pathways.   “The TPM Academy has allowed for all the regions of the state to convene and identify shared challenges and opportunities, and you are already seeing collaborations sprout from our time together. Moving forward this will only be a positive thing for the state as we look to address new encounters on the horizon,” Black said, adding that rapid changes to the state’s economy will have implications what jobs are in demand and on the way work is done. By coming together at the state level, Texas leaders have the opportunity to build local and regional networks – colleagues with different knowledge and skills who you can pick up the phone and call, as Harris puts it – while also gaining access to the wider national network of TPM practitioners through the Chamber Foundation’s National Learning Network. It can also help drive smart workforce development policy at a state level, said Van Chau. He called the TPM® model tried and tested, sustainable and responsive to changing labor market needs. Van Chau had been familiar with the TPM® principles before joining the Texas cohort and pointed out that the TPM Academy reinforced the critical importance for workforce development to be employer driven. What is most needed is buy-in from the top. Angela Robbins-Taylor, director of Construction Career Collaborative (C3) and a TPM Academy graduate with a previous cohort, sees the TPM strategy as a powerful tool that forces employers to drive decisions based on data and to plan beyond the present, something she says doesn’t always happen in the construction industry. It forces employers to think about talent differently – like a supply chain. Employers have to think about the specific skills they need their workforce to have, where they can find that talent and how they can build a pipeline for that talent. Once employers identify what they need and have a common vocabulary for it, they are better able to collaborate with partners to train workers and a future workforce, said Harris, of San Jacinto College. Colleges and other players cannot look at each other as competitors, but instead must recognize their role in a functioning system, she said. As an educational institution, a college’s goal is to listen to what employers need. Following the TPM curriculum has helped her think outside the bounds of her organization.  “I can ask better questions. I can listen better. I can understand different opportunities to help an employer build out the workforce needed,” she said. The TPM strategy improves communication between all parts of workforce development, she added. “When that happens, that pipeline will flow,” Harris said.   Learn more about the TPM Academy here.
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Economic Development

Greater Houston Partnership Adds Wharton County to Service Region

HOUSTON (September 3, 2020) – The Greater Houston Partnership’s Board of Directors has approved adding Wharton County to the business organization’s economic development footprint. Wharton becomes the 12th county covered by the Partnership, which is the Houston area’s designated economic development organization.  The Partnership will work closely with leaders in Wharton County to identify, recruit, attract and retain investment, companies and jobs for the benefit of the people of the county and the greater Houston region. “We are excited to add Wharton County to our service region and support the area’s economic development and growth,” said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. “I got to know Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath a few years ago and was impressed by his team and his personal enthusiasm for expanding economic opportunities in Wharton County by growing connections with the broader region. Wharton County offers new placement opportunities for certain types of economic development projects, particularly distribution and logistics projects, as well as those tied to supply chains in Mexico and projects that must be in an attainment area for NOx (ozone). We look forward to working with county leaders to leverage this partnership for the benefit of all in the Houston region.” Located 60 miles southwest of Houston, Wharton County is a strategic location for projects tied to the US 59/I-69 Superhighway and the accessibility to freight rail service.  “In recent years, Wharton County has facilitated critical infrastructure projects, as well as business expansions in the region,” said Wharton County Judge Phillip Spenrath. “By joining the Greater Houston Partnership’s service region, Wharton has the opportunity to leverage the business organization’s influence to accelerate the county’s economic development efforts. We look forward to working closely with the Partnership on driving our area’s growth.”  The Partnership will work closely with the Wharton County Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the City Development Corporation of El Campo in their efforts to recruit, retain and expand new and existing businesses in the area.   “Wharton is dedicated to growing our manufacturing and agricultural base,” says Joshua Owens, Executive Director of  Wharton Economic Development Corporation. “Joining the Greater Houston Partnership will enhance our ability to attract the right mix of companies and entrepreneurs. The City of Wharton has invested in expanding our transportation network, enhancing critical infrastructure, opening land for greenfield development, and reinvesting in our historic downtown.” Wharton County’s recent economic development wins include the 540-acre Southwest International Gateway Business Park, a rail-served warehouse park in El Campo developed by Stonemont Financial Group.  Kansas City Southern Railway is  expanding rail infrastructure to support the project.  “El Campo is excited about joining the Greater Houston Partnership and the myriad of opportunities this relationship will offer our community and the broader Houston region as we work to attract companies to our area,” said Carolyn Gibson, Executive Director of the City Development Corporation of El Campo. “We are ideally situated for logistics as we sit at the intersection of Interstate 69 and State Highway 71, with outstanding shovel-ready land with both highway and Class One rail frontage. This relationship will be a win-win for all involved.” As the state-designated regional economic development organization, the Greater Houston Partnership works closely with partners across the area to submit regional responses to RFP’s (requests for proposals) from domestic and international companies looking to relocate or expand their operations. A formal relationship facilitates and promotes increased interactions related to these projects. The Partnership has already been working closely with Wharton County Junior College, which has a campus in Sugar Land, as part of the organization’s UpSkill Houston program. UpSkill Houston is an employer-led initiative to develop programs and practices critical to ensuring the region has the skilled workforce needed to drive a strong, diverse economy.  Wharton County joins 11 other counties incorporated in the Partnership’s service region: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker and Waller counties. ### Greater Houston Partnership The Greater Houston Partnership works to make Houston one of the best places to live, work and build a business. As the economic development organization for the Houston region, the Partnership champions growth across 12 counties by bringing together business and civic-minded leaders who are dedicated to the area’s long-term success. Representing 1,100 member organizations and approximately one-fifth of the region’s workforce, the Partnership is the place business leaders come together to make an impact. Learn more at A.J. Mistretta Vice President, Communications          (c) 504-450-3516 |   
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Economic Development

State of the City

Save the Date for City of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's annual State of the City address.  In his fifth State of the City address, Mayor Turner will discuss the City's ongoing efforts to…

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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.


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


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

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