TWC Texas Two Step Tour Swings through South Texas to Listen, Learn from Rural Communities

“I don’t know how to two-step, but what I do know how to do is work together, and you know when you two step you have a partner. And so, it’s no good for me to just be the left leg if I don’t include the right leg. And so, what we are doing here, when we do the two step, we’re in unison, we’re working together.”

— TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez

What is a Listening Tour?

When a state agency and its program officers from Austin take the time to travel to rural areas across South Texas and listen to locals, communities, employers, individuals and stakeholders, the agency benefits with greater understanding, deeper insights and more valuable perspectives about the people it serves.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is more accessible than most people may realize. Through more than 200 Workforce Centers and satellite offices across the state of Texas, and 130 Vocational Rehabilitation field offices, TWC connects job seekers and employers with workforce development services and training — but TWC wanted to hear directly from multiple stakeholders: Local workforce boards, employers, economic development corporations, independent school districts superintendents, trainers, counselors, non-profits, chambers, elected officials and constituents.  That’s why TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez and TWC staff representing several TWC programs embarked on a South Texas listening tour, April 9-13, 2018.

Where Did We Go?

The group visited six specific Workforce Board regions: Lower Rio, South Texas, Cameron County, Coastal Bend, Alamo and Capital Area Workforce Development Areas taking along staff from TWC’s Skills Development Fund; Vocational Rehabilitation program; Apprenticeship program; and Adult Education and Literacy program. City stops included Brownsville, Laredo, Corpus Christi, San Diego, San Antonio/Hondo and Austin.

Texas Two Step Boot Tour logo and map of Workforce Board areas that were visited in South Texas

Why Did We Go?

  1. Listen and learn from rural communities. Allow stakeholders to tell their stories, share their struggles and their successes.
  2. Build strong relationships with rural communities and determine how to work together as a team with workforce development and training services in mind.
  3. Educate on our workforce and training program staff, generate new interest from individuals we might not normally hear from, and bring better services.
  4. Exit with takeaways to use as next action items.

“The primary goal of our tour was to help people feel heard, educate them on our workforce and training programs, generate new interest from individuals we wouldn’t normally hear from, bringing better services to local communities,” Commissioner Alvarez stated. “Having a transparent and informative conversation is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your program.”

Commissioner Alvarez explained that many Texans cannot afford to make it to Austin to discuss their workforce development experience and needs, and that others may simply be unaware of what TWC services are available.

Which Programs Went on Tour?

TWC Program Managers pose in front of the Texas Capitol with signs announcing the tour kickoff
Photo: TWC Program Managers kicked off the Texas Two Step Boot Tour from Austin and headed to Brownsville for the first listening tour stop.
  1. Skills Development Fund
  2. Adult Education and Literacy (AEL)
  3. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
  4. Apprenticeship

Since TWC staff fielded so many questions about essential programs, we asked the staff to offer an overview of major TWC programs:

1. 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.

2. Adult Education and Literacy providers are organizations with instructors delivering English language, math, reading, writing and workforce training instruction to help adult students acquire the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, earn a high school equivalency, and enter and succeed in college or workforce training. TWC contracts with a wide variety of organizations to provide AEL instruction and promote an increased opportunity for adult learners to transition to post-secondary education, training or employment.

3. The Vocational Rehabilitation program helps people with disabilities prepare for, find or retain employment and helps youth and students prepare for post-secondary opportunities.  The program also helps businesses and employers recruit, retain and accommodate employees with disabilities. The program serves adults with disabilities; youth and students with disabilities and businesses and employers.

4. Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced journey workers with related classroom instruction. Most registered apprenticeship training programs last from three to five years as determined by industry standards.

Highlights of the Texas Two Step Listening Tour

Day 1 – April 9 – Brownsville: Workforce Solutions – Cameron

The 2018 Texas Two Step Tour began with a stop in Brownsville, to visit with the Cameron County Workforce Board.

A forum was held at the Texas Southmost College Performing Arts Center.

While there were multiple questions asked at the Texas Southmost College, one major realization realized from the overall discussion is the severity of the skilled trades “skills gap” in the area and the need to continue the development of technical and skilled trades programs at both the high school and college levels to close those gaps as soon as possible.

TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez and the Texas Two Step Boot Tour team appear on stage at Texas Southmost College Performing Arts Center.
Photo: Attendees of the Labor Boot Tour learned about customized training through Skills Development and Apprenticeship.

This conversation was followed by attendees of the Labor Boot Tour learning directly about customized training through our Skills Development and Apprenticeship teams discussing TWC programs.

While seated on stage among fellow program managers, TWC Director of Employer Initiatives Aaron Demerson speaks into a microphone to discuss the Skills Development Fund to stakeholders in Brownsville.
Photo: TWC Director of Employer Initiatives Aaron Demerson discusses the Skills Development Fund to stakeholders in Brownsville.

Commissioner Alvarez noted that worker training is the key as the Rio Grande Valley transforms from an agricultural economy to an advance manufacturing, aerospace, maritime and LNG economy.

Invited stakeholders included Career & Technical educators, college tech-ed officials, Economic Development Corporaitons, and the Port of Brownsville–all of whom gave brief presentations of what they are working on, and the need for continued TWC funding assistance to be successful–particularly increased JET funding for the next biennium.

An overall realization demonstrated was the severity of the skilled trades “skills gap” in the area and the need to continue the development of technical and skilled trades programs at both the high school and college levels to close those gaps as soon as possible.

“All-in-all, [today] was enlightening to a large and varied audience, and the resulting sense of urgency to continue building CTE capacity in our schools and colleges was an overriding outcome.  We sincerely thank Commissioner Alvarez and his staff for their dedication and availability, and appreciate their passion for what they do for the great State of Texas.”

— Marisa Almaraz, WFS – Cameron Executive Assistant

Day 1 – April 9 Continued – Mission: Workforce Solutions – Lower Rio Grande Valley

In Mission, Texas, the Two Step Tour participants were hosted by Workforce Solutions-Lower Rio Grande,  and began with an in-depth tour of Royal Technologies, an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that services diverse industries.

Royal Technologies takes TWC Texas Two Step Program Staff on a tour of their manufacturing facility.
Photo: Royal Technologies takes TWC Program Staff on a tour of their manufacturing facility.
The group tours the inside of the Royal Technologies work space
Photo: Tour of the Royal Technologies work space.

Highlights of the tour included viewing how automation and robotics are used by companies such as Royal Technologies, to create labor costs efficiencies, and how a manufacturing company serves both automobile and technology markets in North America and Mexico.

The tour was followed by a stakeholder meeting at South Texas College Technology Campus in McAllen, for the larger group Q&A discussion where Commissioner Alvarez, and TWC key staff from Austin, provided stakeholders pertinent information about programs and services available to the region.

TWC Program Directors field questions from the listening forum attendees in Mission.
Photo: TWC Program Directors field questions from the listening forum attendees in Mission.

TWC staff engaged in one-on-one discussions with stakeholders representing economic development corporations, business, education and community based organizations.

Mission’s Key Economic Development Drivers:

  • Maximizing and leveraging partnerships and information to better serve individuals with disabilities.
  • Development of innovative partnerships and programs through apprenticeship programs: TWC’s Desi Holmes answered various questions regarding apprenticeship programs and shared best practices (as seen across the state) in efforts to create programs that enables individuals to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and skills.
  • Overall, creating responsive programs to meet the needs of business.
TWC Staff, Workforce Solutions – Lower Rio Grande Valley Staff, and area stakeholders join for a photo at the Mission listening forum.
Photo: TWC Staff, Workforce Solutions – Lower Rio Grande Valley Staff, and area stakeholders join for a photo at the Mission listening forum.

“The Texas Workforce Commission Texas Two Step Listening Tour hosted by Workforce Solutions-Lower Rio was an enormous success and beneficial to our community stakeholders.  Perhaps the most notable experience for the attendees was that TWC key staff and subject matter experts were so readily available to respond immediately to stakeholder questions and offer additional resources and information to pursue programs, services and grant awards available through TWC.  The real-time technical assistance was invaluable for those in attendance. TWCs responsiveness and availability equips our stakeholders to develop responsive solutions.”

— Arcelia Sanchez, Business Representative, WFS Lower Rio

Day 2 – April 10 – Laredo: Workforce Solutions – South Texas

During the visit with Workforce Solutions of South Texas, the team visited Lyndon B. Johnson High School.

Rogelio Trevino ED WFS South Texas takes TWC Program staffers on a tour of LBJ High School in Laredo, to see JET and Dual Credit funding at work.
Photo: Rogelio Trevino ED WFS South Texas takes TWC Program staffers on a tour of LBJ High School in Laredo, to see JET and Dual Credit funding at work.
Students at LBJ High School work on life-sized computer simulated cadavers made possible through dual credit funding.
Photo: Students at LBJ High School work on life-sized computer simulated cadavers made possible through dual credit funding.

The team then visited the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Campus Laredo.

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz welcomes Commissioner Alvarez and TWC Program Directors to Laredo.
Photo: Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz welcomes Commissioner Alvarez and TWC Program Directors to Laredo.
Two Step Tour staff fielded questions from participants of the stakeholder listening forum.
Photo: Two Step Tour staff fielded questions from participants of the stakeholder listening forum.

The team then visited Doctors Hospital of Laredo.

The Boot Tour team visits Doctors Hospital in Laredo to see Skills Development dollars in action.
Photo: The Boot Tour team visits Doctors Hospital in Laredo to see Skills Development dollars in action.

Day 3 – April 11 – San Diego: Workforce Solutions – Coastal Bend

Commissioner Alvarez and the Boot Tour team kicked-off day three at San Diego High School with Superintendent Dr. Samuel Bueno and Principal Claudette Garcia.

San Diego Early College High School students show off their classroom hospital room lab stations to TWC staff.
Photo: San Diego Early College High School students show off their classroom hospital room lab stations to TWC staff.

The group toured the Certified Nursing Assistant and Welding programs funded by the JET and Dual Credit grants provided by the Texas Workforce Commission.

Welding students at San Diego High School talk about the benefits of their CTE education with TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez.
Photo: Welding students at San Diego High School talk about the benefits of their CTE education with TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez.

Day 3 – April 11 Continued – Corpus Christi: Workforce Solutions – Coastal Bend

The Two Step Tour group then moved on to Corpus Christi to meet with staff at the Workforce Solutions – Coastal Bend, as well as area stakeholders.

Superintendents of the Calallen and Flour Bluff Independent School Districts briefed the group on their Career and Technology Programs.

TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez returns to the classroom to chat with superintendents from Calallen and Flour Bluff Independent School Districts.
Photo: TWC Commissioner Julian Alvarez returns to the classroom to chat with superintendents from Calallen and Flour Bluff Independent School Districts.

Iain Vasey, president of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation, provided an overview of the Coastal Bend economy and $50 billion in current regional projects.

Iain Vasey, president of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation, provided an overview of the Coastal Bend economy and $50 billion in current regional projects.
Photo: Iain Vasey, president of the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation, provided an overview of the Coastal Bend economy and $50 billion in current regional projects.

The visit concluded with a tour of the Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend.

Dr. Mike Sandroussi gives a tour of the Craft Learning Center to Commissioner Alvarez and TWC Program Staff.
Photo: Dr. Mike Sandroussi gives a tour of the Craft Learning Center to Commissioner Alvarez and TWC Program Staff.
Commissioner Alvarez points to a graphic on a vehicle that points out that the Craft Learning Center partners with WFS Coastal Bend for Workforce Training
Photo: Craft Learning Center partners with WFS Coastal Bend for Workforce Training.

Day 4 – April 12 – San Antonio: Workforce Solutions – Alamo

The Boot Tour team visited Workforce Solutions Alamo on day four and hosted a listening session and invitation for questions.

Workforce Solutions Alamo and Two Step Tour participants site around a u shaped table for their talking and listening session.
Photo: Workforce Solutions Alamo welcomes 2018 Texas Two Step Boot Tour.

San Antonio’s Important Topics:

  • Dr. Bruce Leslie, Chancellor, Alamo Colleges – provided an overview of Alamo INSTITUTES which consist of six categories: Creative & Communication Arts; Business & Entrepreneurship; Health & Biosciences; Advanced Manufacturing & Logistics; Public Service; and Science & Technology.
  • Pooja Tripathi, Project Coordinator – Workforce Services, Bexar County Economic Development Department and Mary Batch, Assistant Manager, Human Resource Development (HRD), Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Inc. – provided an overview of TXFAME.
  • David J. Zammiello, Executive Director Project Quest – provided an organizational overview. The mission of Project QUEST is to strengthen the economy by providing expert support and resources to develop a pipeline of highly qualified employees for in-demand occupations that offer a living wage, benefits and a career path.
  • Ryan Lugalia-Hollan, Executive Director P16 Plus – Mission statement is to ensure that all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future. Programs designed to help youth understand and master the concepts and challenges of basic personal finance investments in programs to build a pipeline of STEM-capable students.
  • Steve Hussain, Chief Mission Officer, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio – Good Careers Academy – Goodwill San Antonio’s goal is to provide an educated workforce empowered to reach their career and life goals and achieve self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. Particularly focus on empowering individuals who face barriers in gaining employment by providing education, training, career services and robust service coordination.
  • Juan Antonio Flores, Executive Vice President, Governmental Relations, Port San Antonio –provided an overview. Home to over 70 tenant customers who directly employ about 12,000 fellow citizens.
  • David Meadows, City of San Antonio Economic Development Department (EDD) – provided an overview. Development of Workforce Development Division. EDD has funded workforce agencies for many years but only started developing policy around workforce development over the last couple of years.

The second portion of the tour took place at Accenture Federal Services (AFS). Ali Bokhari, AFS Delivery Network Director, Accenture Federal Services, provided an overview and tour of the facility. Romanita Mata-Barrera, SA Works, was able to join the group and partake in the discussion.

A group of Texas Two Step and Workforce Solutions Alamo staffers pose for a photo at Accenture Federal Services
Photo: Accenture Tour showcasing their varied services and jobs to the Texas Two Step Boot Tour.

Accenture’s Important Topics: 

  • Vocational Rehabilitation – discussion regarding the partnership Accenture Federal Services has developed with Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation San Antonio location regarding the employment of people with disabilities. This is an ongoing partnership with not only TWC Vocational Rehabilitation staff but also WSA staff.
  • On-the-Job-Training – discussion regarding how AFS and WSA are collaborating in providing OJT noting obstacles that have been encountered.
  • Apprenticeship – AFS provided a review of their in-house apprenticeship program.
Texas Two Step Tour members pose for a group photo inside the Accenture Federal Services headquarters in San Antonio.
Photo: Texas Two Step Tour members pose for a group photo inside the Accenture Federal Services headquarters in San Antonio.

This portion of the tour brought the team back to the Board Office.

Carolyn King, Director Grants and Clinical Education Operations, Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio provided an overview of the various initiatives Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio has utilized focusing on TWC grant funding. Mark Milton, Senior Director of Workforce Operations, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio – Good Careers Academy was also in attendance.

Some of the Items Discussed:

  • Retention opportunities utilizing Goodwill, Project Quest as well as Alamo Colleges.
  • Interview Skills, helping students determine the best fit. Interviewing with numerous departments at the same time. This has been successful for not only the students but the respective supervisors.
  • Utilization of Skills Development Funds.
Tour of the Goodwill Good Careers Academy in San Antonio.
Photo: Tour of the Goodwill Good Careers Academy in San Antonio.

The final leg of the visit to San Antonio was a guided tour of the Goodwill – Good Careers Academy, located at 406 West Commerce St., San Antonio, 78207.

Mark Milton, Senior Director of Workforce Operations, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio – Good Careers Academy provided the tour. Steve Hussain, Chief Mission Officer welcomed the team to Good Careers Academy.

Some of the items highlighted were the classroom, as that particular Good Careers Academy hosts students from Fox Tech High School.

Day 4 – April 12 Continued – Hondo: Workforce Solutions – Alamo

This portion of the tour took place at South Texas Regional Training Center (STRTC) 402 Carter St., Hondo 78861 (Medina County).

Members of the Two Step Tour and Workforce Solutions Alamo meet around a table with stakeholders in Hondo.
Photo: A view of the stakeholder listening forum in Hondo.

Hondo Mayor James Danner, and Jesse M. Perez, of the City of Hondo, Economic Development Department, provided an overview of workforce initiatives in Hondo/Medina County.

Hondo Key Economic Development Drivers:

  • In 2013 the City of Hondo initiated discussions with Goodwill Good Careers Academy to bring CNA course and other technical courses to the STRTC. And agreement with Hondo High School and Goodwill was created to offer CNA to Hondo High School Seniors.
  • In 2014 Concordia University began offering a Master’s Degree for teachers and BS Degree for Teachers’ Aides seeking to become teachers.

    Commissioner Julian Alvarez presents a TWC Challenge Coin to Hondo Director of Economic Development Jesse M. Perez.
    Photo: Commissioner Julian Alvarez presents a TWC Challenge Coin to Hondo Director of Economic Development Jesse M. Perez.
  • In 2016 the City of Hondo Economic Development Corporation (COHEDC) approved $285,000 to renovate 5,000 sq. ft. of vacant space into an allied health training suite and create two additional multi-purpose classrooms.
  • In 2016, the City of Hondo and COHEDC submitted a request to the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a $960,000 grant with a $240,000 local match to build an annex for vocational/technical courses. EDA approved the grant request and are in the process of making arrangements to build the annex.
  • In January 2016 WSA leased space to provide workforce development services in Medina County at STRTC.
  • In 2017, together with WSA and Southern Career Institute (SCI) CNA courses were offered to adults. SCI provides the instruction. WSA provides funding for qualified adults.
A group photo from the stakeholder listening forum in Hondo.
Photo: A group photo from the stakeholder listening forum in Hondo.

Day 5 – April 13 – Austin: Workforce Solutions – Capital Area

The Texas Two Step Boot Tour team met with Workforce Solutions of the Capital Area staff on day five.

The team toured St. David’s North Austin Medical Center.

Members of the Two Step Boot Tour visit a maternity delivery room at St. David's North Austin Medical Center which features training tools to simulate a mother and newborn child.
Photo: Members of the Two Step Boot Tour visit a maternity delivery room at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center which features training tools to simulate a mother and newborn child.

The team also toured the Austin Community College ACCelerator Laboratory.

ACC ACCelerator displayed a greeting for TWC Commissioner Alvarez on monitor featuring a photo of him and a welcome message.
Photo: ACC ACCelerator displayed a greeting for the Texas Two Step Boot Tour team.
Inside view of the large internal area of the Austin Community College ACCelerator Laboratory, which is filled with computer on desks.
Photo: ACC ACCelerator’s vast training and work space.

The final day of the Boot Tour culminated in a listening session with Workforce Solutions Capital Area staff and local stakeholders.

A view of the listening forum with Workforce Solutions Capital area staffers and stakeholders.
Photo: A view of the listening forum with Workforce Solutions Capital area staffers and stakeholders.

Learnings & Takeaways

“Commissioner Alvarez: Having traveled through several regions and multiple cities on tour,  what did you learn? What seemed significant? Were there any major takeaways for you?”

“Those are good questions. TWC went on tour to listen and learn from rural communities. This was an opportunity to allow stakeholders to tell their stories, share their struggles and their successes.  I think what really stood out about the tour for me is how much our services here at TWC have had such an impact on so many lives, communities and the economy.  For example, I knew TWC makes a difference and that TWC-TWS workforce and development training programs and services have the ability to change lives, but it’s different seeing that in person. I knew our grants really trained people but it’s different seeing it up close and personal. That really hit home for me having had the opportunity to tour and witness first-hand a high school with 400 students on the receiving end of a JET grant. It was very powerful.  And the students were equally as enthusiastic about sharing how it has changed their lives.

These students are experiencing the newest and latest welding methods due to one grant with the end result being that industry are hiring many of them right out of high school.  And that’s success, right there.  That’s a significant takeaway. And sometimes the results speak for themselves.

A secondary purpose for the tour was to build strong relationships with rural communities and determine how to work together going forward as a team with workforce development and training services in mind.  On that note, I feel the tour was successful in that we successfully brought Austin to communities that can’t afford to travel to Austin to meet with our agency directly. Many who attended these stakeholder meetings and discussions were employees of non-profits while others ran agencies with limited resources.

Finally, I’m glad to be part of such a great agency and work alongside individuals who truly care about what they do and the people they serve.  Another purpose for the tour was for us to educate on our workforce and training programs, generate new interest from individuals we might not normally hear from, and bring better services. This tour allowed me a second opportunity to to experience how professional and knowledgeable our TWC staff actually are, how passionate they are about their programs and educating others, and how much they want to help others which is the essence of bringing better services.

I’m glad for some actions items and takeaways. And finally, I’m glad to be part of such a great agency.”

 

Each member of the Texas Two Step Boot Tour placed one of their shoes in the form of a circle to symbolize unity.
Photo: Each member of the Texas Two Step Boot Tour placed one of their shoes in the form of a circle to symbolize unity.

Additional Takeaways and Future Action Items: 

  • Takeaway 1 – Target “Skills Gap”: The severity of the skilled trades “skills gap” demonstrates a strong need to continue the development of technical and skilled trades programs at both the high school and college levels to close gaps as soon as possible. Several communities spoke of the sense of urgency to continue building Career Technical Education (CTE) capacity in schools and colleges. TWC should also address how to help colleges work better with one another to build capacity and provide training for each other.
  • Takeaway 2 – More TWC Outreach: Multiple individuals and communities are unfamiliar with TWC programs and there exists a strong need for greater awareness. TWC needs to better educate what TWC programs can offer. This tour demonstrated the fact that certain folks do not know what an Adult Education Literacy program entails, or how Skills Fund works, or who the Vocational Rehabilitation program touches or affects — or how apprenticeship programs can change young lives. (If people were truly surprised to learn that we provide workforce training in addition to basic education and English, TWC realizes there are many other services delivered that individuals are not aware of or familiar with so greater education and more awareness is needed.)
  • Takeaway 3 – Expand VR Awareness: There is a need for greater discussion regarding the partnerships developed with Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation regarding the employment of people with disabilities. This is an ongoing partnership with not only TWC Vocational Rehabilitation staff but also WSA staff in certain regions. Maximizing and leveraging partnerships and information to better serve individuals with disabilities is essential.
  • Takeaway 4 – Share Apprenticeship Best Practices: TWC heard of a greater need for development of innovative partnerships and programs through apprenticeship programs. There is a need for further discussion on shared best practices (as seen across the state) in efforts to create programs that enables individuals to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and skills.
  • Takeaway 5 – Be Responsive to Local Business Needs:  TWC heard throughout the tour of the need to continuously create responsive programs to meet the needs of business areas visited – there is a realization that each region and city have their successes and their own needs. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach. TWC needs to take time to determine local needs.
  • Takeaway 6 – Reduce Confusion Over VR Services: Because of the vast array of services offered by TWC (with each of these individual programs taken on tour), TWC is a full-service program for job seekers and employers.  Certain questions asked to full audiences came from local Work Force Solutions staff wanting to understand the services provided by the boards and how to access them for VR customers.  It demonstrates a need to educate at all levels on the full reach of TWC, boards, and their contractors. More education and awareness for VR programs is also needed. The other TWC programs are provided through grants to boards, schools, training centers etc.  VR services are provided directly to the individual with a disability. There is sometimes confusion over how VR services differentiate from other TWC services.
  • Takeaway 7 – Continue Visits with Local Stakeholders: Having traveled through six regions with TWC’s programs, TWC now has a better understanding that the true worth of the work TWC does and the programs managed that can only be fully appreciated when one is able to see the results and the impact our services our work has on the lives of people and businesses across the state.  TWC program managers must engage in field trips in the future to better understand the impact of the programs TWC manages across the state.
  • Takeaway 8 – Expand Outreach about Skills Development Fund:  Each day of the tour TWC was asked about the Skills Fund Program.  All areas and regions indicated a strong interest in the Skills Development Fund. TWC was able to discuss how it feels it has made a commitment to developing strong relationships at the local level by locating a Regional Staff person in the area. Unfortunately, TWC learned that many businesses and other partners often do not know that this person is there and that the person is a member of the state office team assigned to assist them in benefiting specifically from the programs and services TWC provides.
Director of Employer Initiatives Aaron Demerson proudly displays his “Texas is Wide Open for Business” boots.
Photo: A Boot Tour staff member’s “Texas is Wide Open for Business” boots.

More Photos from the Tour

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Texas Two Step Boot Tour

Texas Tri-Agency Partners Relaunch ‘Texas Internship Challenge’ to Connect Education with Careers

As students in high school and college begin their search for internships for the summer and fall, Texas’ Tri-Agency partners continue their work through the “Texas Internship Challenge” to help bolster the opportunities available for young people.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) joined forces to establish the Texas Internship Challenge, a statewide campaign first launched in 2017 and now relaunched in 2018, challenging industry and employer partners to increase and promote more paid internships for Texas students.

The program also challenges Texas colleges and universities to grant academic credit for and promote internships to students, and challenges students to apply for and accept internships.

TWC has created a website, TXInternshipChallenge.com, where employers can post internships and students can apply for them at no cost.

“Internships provide invaluable mentoring which positions our students for future success by increasing their skills, awareness and work-readiness for Texas careers,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Internships present employers with a unique opportunity to raise students’ understanding of their industry and can serve as a launch point for recruiting a future worker. I challenge Texas employers to join the Texas Internship Challenge and help the future Texas workforce understand the broad range of occupations available to them in the Texas economy.”

Through the Texas Internship Challenge, the Tri-Agency partners are addressing a workforce need which it has heard frequently from employers: That students need to learn/acquire workplace skills. Internships help students learn workplace skills, introduce and expose students to the state’s in-demand industries, and help students be more competitive for a job search. One of the four goals of the state’s 60x30TX strategic plan for higher education is for students to have identified marketable skills. These skills are acquired by students through education, including curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular activities such as internships.

Employers gain potential full-time employees that can be recruited directly from qualified interns, as well as exposure for their company and their industry’s in-demand occupations. Internships have become an important part of upward mobility for future job seekers—60 percent of employers prefer work experience gained through an internship or professional experience.

On Feb. 5, the Tri-Agency partners met in Austin with industry and education stakeholders to discuss expansion strategies for the Texas Internship Challenge. Chairman Alcantar, Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth Ruggero Hughs and TWC Labor Commissioner Julian Alvarez were joined by executives from Lockheed Martin Corporation, Accenture, JPMorgan Chase, among other industry and education leaders to discuss specific goals on internship expansion strategies, which include stressing the importance of internships, examining different strategies to grow internships and listening to ways the program can expand outreach.

“We must ensure that every child leaves high school prepared for success, whether they choose to attend college, enroll in the military or enter the career field,” said Commissioner Morath. “The Texas Internship Challenge provides every high school student in Texas the stepping stone to a bright future of opportunities.”

“Working with the business community to create more paid internship opportunities is one of the most promising strategies we can offer for students, especially for the more than 60 percent of poor kids in Texas,” said Commissioner Paredes. “These students have to earn income to make their way through college. Paid internships get them into business networks, help them find a job after college, and help them acquire the marketable skills they need to get those jobs. This supports our 60x30TX marketable skills and student debt goals, and enables Texas employers to promote jobs in their industries to our future workforce.”

“In our meetings across the state employers expressed the need to have a talent pipeline equipped with work-based learning experiences. Internships will prepare students with skills to meet the demands of the 21st Century,” said Commissioner Hughs. “I applaud and continue to challenge Texas employers in helping the future Texas workforce understand the broad range of opportunities available to them in a growing Texas economy.”

“Internships not only provide important work and life experiences for students, but also set them up for future workplace success,” said Commissioner Alvarez. “The Texas Internship Challenge will help link learning in the classroom, create relevance between the different subjects studied, and help all students develop the skills required for future occupations.”

The agencies encourage internship programs as a bridge for students to explore in-demand industries and occupations. Students will benefit from mentoring, career guidance, identification of marketable skills, and learn about high-demand occupations. Employers will benefit from the opportunity to explore candidates for full-time recruitment and leverage the developing skill sets and perspectives of students, while also highlighting careers in their industries.

Learn more about upcoming internship opportunities or how to post an internship by visiting TXInternshipChallenge.com.

Project SEARCH at Seton Healthcare Family Increases Employment Rate for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

Project SEARCH at Seton Healthcare Family, part of Ascension, is a business led workforce development effort which successfully prepares and trains individuals with intellectual disabilities for competitive employment. Through yearlong internships, individuals build marketable vocational skills in three areas of the hospital which allows for seamless and total immersion in the workplace.

For the past 10 years, Project SEARCH at Seton has developed strong community collaborations between business, school districts, vocational rehabilitation agencies and other disability service providers all with the same goal of competitive employment for each Project SEARCH participant.

Project SEARCH at Seton collaborated with Texas Workforce Commission on a video demonstrating the benefits of hiring individuals with unique skill sets. In the video, Seton executives discuss the importance of recruiting and retaining a workforce that reflects the community they serve. To date, Seton has a return on investment of about 1.8 million dollars in terms of productive time from Project SEARCH interns over the past 10 years.

For Project SEARCH graduates, this experience is an opportunity to build essential vocational skills in a critical care setting while leveraging their talents. From 2007-2016, Project SEARCH at Seton has graduated 158 interns. Of those graduates, 91 percent transitioned into competitive employment either at Seton or in the community. This is an outstanding result compared to the national unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities, which is over twice the unemployment rate for individuals without disabilities.

Our video profiles three employees, Naomi, Sabrina and Daniel, who discuss how employment through Project SEARCH at Seton has impacted their lives, launched their careers, and ultimately, provided an opportunity for them to play a vital role in healthcare delivery throughout Central Texas.

Texas Workforce Commission is partnering with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and the Texas Workforce Solutions network for a campaign called Texas HireAbility to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.

College Credit for Heroes Supports Four New Programs for Veterans

Nick St. Clair (1).jpgThe Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) recently announced the award of over $1 million to support four new accelerated certificate or degree programs through its College Credit for Heroes (CCH) program, a statewide effort designed to maximize the award of college credit to veterans and service members for their military experience.

Since the program’s inception, more than 85,000 veterans have created accounts at CollegeCreditforHeroes.org. An estimated 27,000 veterans have received evaluations with an average of 16 credit hours awarded per student from participating colleges and universities.

Nick St. Clair served as a medical specialist, practical nurse and field artillery officer in the U.S. Army. After leaving the service, he applied for the nursing school program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), a College Credit for Heroes partner school, and was referred to the program. St. Clair was awarded nine service credit hours and used the credit to obtain his Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2016.

“I began my adult life as a medic, practical nurse and hospital educator in the Army and absolutely loved it,” said St. Clair. “After some time away from patients, I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to return to my first professional love.”

St. Clair is currently employed as a registered nurse at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He credits his success to the College Credit for Heroes program and TTUHSC’s unique program for veterans with his military background.

“With the College Credit for Heroes grant, the university created the Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) track, an accelerated program for veterans with prior military medical training and experiences who want to obtain a nursing degree,” said TTUHSC VBSN Director Debbie Sikes.

“Nick was among our first VBSN graduating class, which included six other students. Success of the VBSN track was demonstrated by all seven students passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) on their first attempt and becoming employed as registered nurses,” she said.

New 2017 programs that received funding through College Credit for Heroes

  • Dallas County Community College District — $262,977 to develop the Veterans Education Transition program, designed to create an accelerated transition to a civilian career by replicating existing programs developed by Grayson College and Lee College.
  • Houston Community College — $472,687 to develop a veterans academy for veterans and service members to assess prior military experiences and provide employment.
  • Lee College — $145,457 to establish an accelerated emergency medical technician program.
  • Texas State University — $145,495 to create Accelerate TXState, an online prior learning assessment curriculum

For more information about College Credit for Heroes partner schools or to register for the program, visit CollegeCreditForHeroes.org.

For more information on workforce programs available for Texas veterans, visit the TWC veterans’ resource page.

Did you know? Emotional support animals one of top housing discrimination complaints

ThinkstockPhotos-98955994.jpgIn 2016, disability was the number one basis for housing discrimination complaints filed in Texas. Housing consumers have a right to ask providers to change certain housing policies, procedures and rules relating to their disability status. This is known as a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Having an emotional support animal is one of the most popular reasonable accommodation requests. Recently, a graduate student at Houston Baptist University requested to have his emotional support animal with him in his on-campus apartment and on campus to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

The student submitted paperwork from his therapist to support the request. Two days later the request was denied.  After the denial, the student was charged with pet deposit fees. Emotional support animals are not pets. They provide individuals with the emotional support to help them cope. Pet fees cannot be charged for emotional support animals .

When making a decision to grant permission for an emotional support animal, housing providers should consider the following questions:

  • Does the tenant have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
  • Does the tenant making the request have a disability-related need for an emotional support animal?
  • Is there evidence the specific animal has caused a direct threat of harm to someone or substantial physical damage to someone’s property that could not be reduced or eliminated by another accommodation?

Just in time for graduation, college officials agreed to pay back the pet fees the student paid out of fear of not graduating and to have staff take part in a Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division reasonable accommodation webinar.

For more information about fair housing rights and responsibilities and fair housing training, go to the webpage of the Civil Rights Division at www.texasworkforce.org/civilrights.

JET program supports Career and Technical Education for Texas Students

JET Advisory Board & Alcantar 9-8-2016303.JPG
JET Advisory Board from left to right – Educate Texas Executive Director John Fitzpatrick, TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Inc. Director of Government Relations and External Affairs Mario Lozoya, Rosenthal Pauerstein Sandoloski Agather LLP Attorney Steve Lecholop, Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins and Mott, LLP, Partner Tony Fidelie, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Deputy Commissioner for Academic Planning and Policy Dr. David Gardner.

Thousands of students across Texas now have an opportunity to receive training, with access to high-tech equipment, for a career in a high-growth occupation. In April, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announced the availability of $10 million in funding from the Texas Legislature for the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant program during the 2016-17 biennium.

Recently, TWC awarded 25 grants totaling nearly $5 million for the first round of funding to public community and technical colleges and independent school districts for programs that focus on supporting high-demand occupations in new emerging industries.

Qualifying educational institutions were selected among grant applicants for the development of programs or courses leading to a license, certificate or postsecondary degree for students in their communities.

“I congratulate these JET grant recipients as they work to enhance educational curricula and high-demand job training for our students,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar, who chairs the JET Advisory Board. “As they make the transition into the workforce, it is crucial that students have the education and skills to succeed in the workplace.”

The Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD) was among the awardees and received almost $300,000 towards the upgrade of class equipment to meet automobile industry standards. HCISD can now offer students a new opportunity to gain relevant certifications and college credit towards an associate degree in the auto collision field.

“Our auto collision and repair courses housed at Harlingen High School are going to see major improvements with the purchase of updated equipment,” said Jessica Hruska, special projects and grants specialist with Harlingen Public Schools.

The JET grant awarded to Angelina College (AC) will allow the college to purchase new equipment to be used in welding classes for AC’s welding technology associate degree and certificate programs.

The purchase of the new equipment will allow AC to increase enrollment from 16 to 20 students per welding class on its main campus in Lufkin. The JET funds will allow 40 more students, per semester, to enroll in welding courses.

“By increasing the number of machines in the welding lab, we are able to help more students each year, and this is our goal,” said Janice Huffman, workforce development coordinator at Angelina College. “These courses are in great demand because of the need for welders in the East Texas region.”

The new equipment funded through the grant will be in place and ready for use for the spring 2017 semester. High school students in the Angeline College service area are able to earn a Level 1 Basic Certificate in Welding Technology while they attend high school. Upon graduating, those students will have the basic skills needed for entry-level employment or they can continue skills training toward an intermediate welding certificate and/or pursue an Associate of Applied Science Degree in welding.

The JET Advisory Board assists TWC in administering the grants. The six-member board meets at least once each quarter, or as needed, to review applications and make recommendations on grant awards.

“It is amazing…the quality applicants the JET program receives through its grant solicitations. School districts, community colleges and institutes of technology across our state have jumped at the opportunity to apply for these much needed funds,” said JET advisory board member Tony Fidelie. “With programs ranging from nursing, to web development to welding, countless students across Texas are going to have the opportunity to be trained for good paying, stable jobs.”

For more information on the JET Program, visit texasworkforce.org/jet.

Working Together to Build a Stronger Workforce

Working together is nothing new for staff at Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas (WFS Dallas) and the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). They began collaborating more than a decade ago, with DARS staff visiting workforce centers and participating in Workforce Disability Awareness training, as well as providing assistive technology training and technical assistance.

With the upcoming transition of certain DARS programs to TWC, employees vocational rehabilitation specialists will begin co-locating at workforce centers across the state over the next few years. At WFS Dallas, that transition will come later, but the path toward strong collaboration has already been established as some combined staffers who have been working side-by-side already, are learning they can benefit from each other’s expertise.

When the collaboration began, workforce staff arranged space in centers for DARS staff meetings and Job Club, held WorkInTexas.com workshops and provided information on workforce services, hiring events, job leads, seminars and orientations.

Workforce staff has built on that foundation with employer education workshops and hiring events for job seekers with disabilities. These events create awareness about workplace accessibility, universal design and assistive technology.

Workforce staff makes weekly visits to the DARS Division for Rehabilitation Services (DRS) Irving Field Office to work one-on-one with vocational rehabilitation consumers.

“This relationship has resulted in an increased number of placements for DRS consumers as our representative assists them directly with placement through WorkInTexas.com,” says Brenda Russell, Irving area manager.

In May 2015, WFS Dallas created a Disability Services Pilot Program, hiring six talent development specialists to provide job-seeking services specifically for people with disabilities, such as résumé writing assistance, networking, interview preparation, referrals and accommodations.

DARS area managers quickly embraced the pilot and invited the talent development specialists to co-locate within eight DARS offices to streamline delivery of employment related services and support.

“We worked together to develop employment strategies and resources to help people with disabilities become employed,” says Gena Swett, Rehabilitation Services program Specialist. “The talent development specialist traveling to each DARS field offices has been very successful with helping people with disabilities obtain employment.”

The pilot program has placed more than 140 job seekers with a wide variety of disabilities in competitive, integrated jobs. The DARS/WFS Dallas co-locations showcases teamwork and lays the groundwork for the full integration of co-located services that will happen over the next few years.

“The pilot did everything we hoped. DARS staff and workforce center staff are working on the same outcome,” says Laurie Bouillion Larrea, WFS Dallas President. “Now we work seamlessly and the employer sees more robust and diverse talent. This is working!”

Undrae Knox, a Rehabilitation Services manager at the co-located office, says the co-location has paid dividends because it allows convenient face-to-face contact with, and real-time feedback from, WFS specialists. Knox has some simple advice to other co-locating staff.

“The co-location is a resource and when helping our consumers, we can never have too many resources, especially when they are in-house,” Knox says.

 

Blind Services Assisting Texans to Secure Employment

The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program and services are transferring to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) on September 1, 2016. VR services will be administered under the new program name Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services at TWC.

The program promotes independent and productive lives for adults and youth with disabilities by helping them  prepare for, find and advance in employment. This program serves individuals with a variety of disabilities and is currently administered through two divisions at DARS—one for individuals who are blind, the other for all other disabilities. The legislation that transferred the program to TWC also requires that the two divisions merge into one division that will serve all disabilities by October 1, 2017.

VR services for  people who are blind or visually impaired are specifically designed to help them prepare for and obtain or retain high quality careers.  To accomplish this, individuals who are blind and visually impaired are provided  training to live independently, and to be successful in school and beyond.  Some of these services include:

  • Criss Cole Rehabilitation Center (CCRC)
    • CCRC is a comprehensive, residential training facility located in Austin, Texas, that works in partnership with VR consumers with visual impairments to help them achieve their employment and independent living goals. CCRC offers training in core skills such as orientation and mobility, Braille, daily living skills and career development.
  • Transition Services
    • Transitions services, a subset of  services in the VR program, partner with  students and youth with vision loss, and those who may have additional disabilities, to assist with making an effective transition from school to adulthood and the workforce.  Through career exploration and guidance, educational support at school, peer supports and mentors, work-based learning opportunities, and the provision of a wide variety of activities that also promote independent living and travel skills, these services help consumers prepare for and make informed decisions about their future goals related to employment, post-secondary training, and post-school life.
  • Deafblind Services
    • Deafblind services are provided by a specialized unit that serves VR consumers who experience a combination of deafness and blindness. Deafblind services help VR consumers prepare for and find employment by providing assistive technology, education, training, and other needed resources.

In addition, TWC will administer the Business Enterprises of Texas (BET) program. The VR program works closely with BET by collaborating to identify individuals with visual impairments who are suitable to complete training to become licensed food service and vending management professionals. BET managers earn their personal income from profits produced by their businesses, which are located on state and federal properties.

Information related to the transition of DARS programs to TWC can be found on the TWC Transition webpage and the DARS Transition webpage.

For information about programs transferring to HHSC, visit the HHSC Transformation webpage.

 

Education and skills blossom into a new career for one Austin-area youth

Mario & building best091.jpgWhen Mario Castor learned that he was selected for the Workforce Solutions Capital Area (Capital Area) Excellence through Individual Achievement (Youth) award in Austin, he hesitated to even attend the Capital Area October 2015 awards presentation luncheon. Until he heard his accomplishments read out loud, he had not realized how much he had achieved in the last three years. He walked away from the luncheon with a great sense of achievement.

Mario overcame some tough circumstances. A high school dropout, he was struggling to make a living and support his family through a minimum-wage, fast-food job, when he realized he had to make some changes.

“I was hanging out with the wrong friends and I faced not being able to finish high school. I had little personal motivation and I questioned my existence [in life]. I was a shy person and full of anger, but inside me there was a flower that wanted to bloom.”

Mario’s inner desires began to take root when he found resources that not only guided him with an education plan, but also provided marketable skills that laid a foundation for employment. He registered with the Texas Workforce Commission’s WorkInTexas.com job database through Capital Area and began preparing not just for a job, but a career.

Through Capital Area’s Youth Employment Partnership he connected with American YouthWorks (AYW) where young, low-income people (ages 14-21) are exposed to work-ready and life skills through training programs and services that help them achieve their goals. Some of the programs and services include: GED test preparation or high school graduation guidance, job skills training, job placement, paid work experience, and community service opportunities. AYW provides ongoing community resources and offers project-based enrichment programs to help young people succeed.

With the help of nutrients from these resources, the flower began to grow. Over three years, Mario participated in 456 hours of training and service at AYW. He learned construction skills that included electrical wiring and air conditioning service and installation. He enrolled at Austin Community College, and within three months earned a welding certification. He continued to excel in various industry skills which led to a higher wages.

Mario is now a certified Roofing Torch Applicator working full-time for a commercial construction company and is on an in-demand career path that allows him to support his family.

“Workforce Solutions Capital Area is proud of Mario’s many accomplishments,” said Capital Area’s Deputy Executive Director Tamara Atkinson.  “Through his story, we are reminded of how valuable case management and support services are in assisting clients to reach their goals.”

When asked how he would advise other young people struggling to find their career path, he suggested that services through Capital Area’s youth partnerships can really help someone achieve beyond their expectations.

“There are people who can help. Look to Goodwill (Goodwill Career & Technical Academy) and AYW. In my family, I am the first to graduate from high school. I did it at 20 years old, but I did it! AYW became my second family and they continue to support me,” Mario shared. “I can rely on them.”

Rarely, do you see a flower in bloom standing alone. Mario’s life-shift has inspired others as well. At least a dozen of his friends have been motivated to improve their own life choices and he has laid the foundation for a better future for his six-year old son, who he now helps with his schoolwork.

“Mario’s story inspires me. Keeping young people engaged is a big part of my job, but at the end of the day, it’s their successes that keep me motivated and hopeful of the future,” said Vanessa Perez, Mario’s case manager from AYW. “Mario’s success is what happens when partnerships in the community come together, and invest in our young people.”

In addition to being a helpful dad, Mario recently served on the AYW Alumni Circle where he is able to connect with and motivate the new students in the program so that they too can blossom and reach their potential.

For more information about Workforce Solutions’ services, find your local office through our online office locator and contact them today.

Establishing pathways to align education and employment for adult learners

Integrating adult learners into postsecondary education and training programs is one of the many ways that the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) adult education and literacy (AEL) program is improving connections that link adult students with workforce skills that will improve their employment prospects. In less than one college semester, Texas adults can move from lacking basic employment skills to being on track for a suitable occupation by participating in a career pathway training program.

Working alongside employers, Texas Workforce Solutions (local workforce development boards), adult education providers, community colleges, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), TWC’s AEL program is creating opportunities to further adult education programs and assist more individuals in gaining employment skills through grants supporting the expansion of integrated education and training (IET) programs. IET programs are successful because they concurrently enroll adult students in contextualized basic education courses, such as reading and math at the same time while they learn high demand skills such as welding. The classroom content becomes more relevant and meaningful to students who are applying what they learn in an employment setting, which results in accelerated learning, helping the adult learner to enter the workforce more quickly.

“Supporting the workforce needs of Texas’ diverse economy requires collaboration to scale innovative, accelerated models of training that provide adult learners with the in-demand skills required to go to work,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “We will continue to gather input from regional stakeholder on the most effective strategies to achieve desired outcomes.”

In support of the state’s Accelerate TEXAS initiative, TWC is providing $500,000 in grant funding to support an expansion of the career pathway program through a community college mentoring grant. Houston Community College (HCC) will lead the mentoring college consortium consisting of Alamo Colleges, Amarillo College, South Texas College and the Tarrant County College District. These colleges will assist other colleges and providers in establishing career pathway programs, similar to the successful models operated by the consortium colleges for adults. Accelerate TEXAS is the state’s initiative to help adult students acquire basic skills and progress on a pathway toward a high-demand occupation.

“Accelerate TEXAS is the best thing that has ever happened to adult education. If you want underprepared students to complete postsecondary credentials and enter employment, integrated education and training is the best way to do it,” said HCC Director of Adult Education Dr. David Joost. “Of all the education and training initiatives that have come and gone over the years, Accelerate TEXAS is different, it works and it’s here to stay.”

Expanding these efforts, TWC has teamed up with the THECB to enable 620 adults to gain industry-recognized certifications through a $1.9 million grant to support the expansion of AEL and IET programs at South Texas College, Alamo Colleges, Lone Star College and Trinity Valley Community College. Accelerate TEXAS initiatives support the state’s ambitious 60x30TX strategic plan for higher education that has the overarching goal of ensuring at least 60 percent of Texans aged 25 to 34 have a postsecondary degree or recognized certification by the year 2030. One of the 60x30TX strategies is to provide high-quality education programs for educationally underserved adults.

“This important initiative allows us to partner with educational organizations that will help Texans gain basic skills needed for employment,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “These strong partnerships are also essential in creating the talent pipeline employers need to keep our Texas workforce competitive and growing.”

Continuing the effort to reach the goals of the state’s 60x30TX strategic plan, Region 6 Education Service Center was granted $515,020 in funds to develop reading and math institutes to enhance classroom strategies that will increase adult learners’ success in math and reading. Region 6 will recruit teachers in the various AEL programs across the state to become trainers for that region. AEL teachers will obtain math and reading knowledge needed to promote adult learner success in the programs.

“Career pathway training is an excellent resource to help individuals obtain the skills and credentialing needed to seek out and apply for the high-demand jobs across Texas,” said Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez.

In FY 2015, TWC found that more than 4,800 adult students, who had been unemployed when they entered an adult education program, began working in the first quarter after completing the program.