Posted at 6:27 PM
On April 7, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Houston, Texas, and toured the LyondellBasell Training Center to highlight the Commerce Department’s Skills for Business Agenda and its signature initiative, the “Communities that Work Partnership.”
The recent ManpowerGroup's annual Talent Shortage Survey noted that 32 percent of U.S. employers report difficulties filling job vacancies due to talent shortages. Through its Skills for Business Agenda, the Commerce Department created the Communities that Work Partnership with the Aspen Institute to facilitate industry-led training partnerships that help prepare workers with the skills they need for in-demand jobs.
In Houston, Secretary Pritzker got a first-hand look at how area businesses, community colleges, non-profit organizations, and other workforce intermediaries are partnering to develop a talent pipeline for local employers to fill job openings that are vital to growing the area’s economy.
The Houston CTWP is focusing on three industry areas: Petrochemical Manufacturing; Industrial and Commercial Construction; and Healthcare.
Business leaders and employers in some of these key industry sectors warn that a severe and persistent shortage of skilled, qualified workers threatens the Houston region’s success and competitiveness. Through a survey of employers, the petrochemical industry estimates that it will need to hire between 10,000 and 12,000 employees over the next five years. Houston’s growth and expansion also fuels the construction industry. Estimates suggest that there will be a need for 75,000 craft professionals and construction workers in the area over the next three to five years.
Through Houston’s UpSkill initiative, the petrochemical sector has developed a collaborative model with the region’s nine community colleges. The program works with industry leaders to:
- Encourage retirees to become instructors for petrochemicals at the community colleges;
- Develop a website listing occupations and training programs in the area;
- Fund scholarships and internships for petrochemical programs;
- Conduct marketing campaigns to attract students to the industry, among other activities.
Through the CTWP, Houston will scale its effective models to other sectors and Commerce intends to share the best practices and lessons learned with the other six participating communities and across the nation through our Economic Development Administration.
The CTWP is currently focusing its efforts to promote employer engagement to build strong talent pipelines in six regional areas:
- Greater Phoenix
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York
- Greater Houston
- Greater Washington, District of Columbia
- New York City
For more information about the Skills for Business Agenda and the CTWP, visit https://www.commerce.gov/tags/skills-business.