UpSkill Houston: Strengthening our Residents, Key Industry Sectors and the Regional Economy


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Peter Beard, Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development of Greater Houston Partnership
Peter Beard, Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development of Greater Houston Partnership

Guest blog post by Peter Beard is Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development of Greater Houston Partnership

UpSkill Houston is honored to be a part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Aspen Institute Communities that Work Partnership. The Houston region focuses on three areas: 1) creating a culture of employer leadership and responsibility; 2) prioritizing key occupations in sectors that drive and support drivers of Houston’s economy; and 3) aligning efforts by education and community organizations that develop the region’s talent pipelines.

Our region fosters and cultivates leadership to help ensure industry employers lead this work and define the needs, competencies and credentials for success in their respective fields.

For example, leadership from ExxonMobil, Shell, LyondellBasell, Chevron Phillips, Dow, and others focus on the long-term talent pipeline for petrochemical plants. Led by Bellows, Balfour Beatty, S&B, Jacobs, Marek, and others, UpSkill Houston’s Construction sector is developing near- and long-term pipelines of qualified entry-level and incumbent craft professionals for the industry. Employer leadership noticeably engages partners and supports work that aligns with industry needs.

Additionally, our Petrochemical Manufacturing sector developed a strong business-led collaborative with members of East Harris County Manufacturers’ Association (EHCMA) and its industrial contractors.

Employer leadership is essential in prioritizing key occupations that maintain the competitiveness and health of their industry. By focusing on qualified technicians and technologists that are in demand, employer leadership helps education institutions and community organizations to improve the skills, capabilities and mindsets essential for success in high demand occupations.

Each industry sector focuses on priority pipelines — youth and young adults for petrochemical technologists (with associate’s degrees) and un- and under-employed young adults — for entry-level construction craft helpers.

With clarity of occupations and target populations, educational institutions and community organizations adapt their programs for priority occupations. The Petrochemical sector also introduced, a new career exploration website to inform students and job seekers about the industry and the education needed for a fulfilling career.

The construction sector worked with United Way of Greater Houston and Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions to develop scalable prototypes to attract, train, and place qualified and skilled entry-level construction workers—screening and assessing more than 300 individuals, interviewing almost 100 poten­tial candidates, and training and placing 40 individuals.

UpSkill Houston continues to strengthen these active sectors and apply and adapt learnings as we launch new sector-based efforts. Currently, our health care employers are identifying specific skills gap priorities. Business leaders and organizing structures are stepping up to guide this work and develop the collective partnership necessary to build a strong, qualified and skilled talent pipeline for this vital industry.

UpSkill Houston and its partners strive to make Houston an even greater place to live, work and build a business. By working with employers to coordinate and align the work necessary to develop our region’s workforce, we are building a skilled workforce vital for Houston to maintain its economic and global competitiveness. This skilled workforce also ensures that our residents share in the prosperity of our region and enjoy a great quality of life.

To learn more about UpSkill Houston, visit

This guest blog is a part of the CTWP series celebrating collaboration across seven U.S. communities.

This blog also is a part of a monthly series highlighting the contributions of the Commerce Department’s agencies to the Open for Business Agenda. This month’s focus is on Skills for Business.

Spotlight on Greater Houston Region - Communities that Work Partnership

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Last updated: 2016-12-12 13:01

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