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.

Vocational Rehabilitative Services Restoring Confidence for Texans with Disabilities

Smiling business man disabled interviewing candidate in an office

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is eagerly preparing to welcome vocational rehabilitation programs operated by the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to the Workforce Solutions family this September.

The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program helps people with a variety of disabilities prepare for, find, keep or advance in employment. Gaining skills needed for a career, learning how to prepare for a job interview or getting the accommodations needed to stay employed are just a few of the ways this program helps people with disabilities increase productivity and independence.

There are many stories that illustrate the success of VR program consumers. As you read their stories, you will note a common theme of consumers determined to achieve their dreams through the help of VR programs. See full list of consumer success stories.

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 DARS programs transferring to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), visit the HHS Transformation webpage.

The Texas Workforce Commission: 20 Years of Innovative Leadership in Workforce Development

The men and women of the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) are preparing to enter the agency’s third decade of service just as they did when the agency began in 1996, by consolidating agencies and programs, and planning for integration of services that will provide streamlined connections to employment for all Texans.

Twenty years ago, 28 employment-related workforce, training and education programs from 10 agencies consolidated to create the Texas Workforce Commission. Over the years, other programs and agencies have joined the amalgamation, and with the upcoming addition of vocational rehabilitation programs from the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) this September, the efforts to connect all Texans with good jobs, and all Texas employers with skilled workers, will again expand through the integration of services and programs.

Also 20 years ago, the integrated model of regional workforce service delivery was born through the creation of the Texas Workforce System network that would later become known as Texas Workforce Solutions. The Texas model for locally controlled, market-driven integrated service delivery was subsequently incorporated into federal legislation that guides workforce programs across the nation including the Wagner-Peyser Act Amendment of 1998, the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2015.

“The visionaries that created our model for workforce services, established a system that continues to allow for flexible solutions to local workforce needs that serve the employers of our state and the communities we serve well,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Over the years, we have continued to find innovative ways to form partnerships and leverage resources to address the state’s workforce needs head on.”

Today, TWC and 28 independent local workforce development boards along with adult education partners (added through the transfer of the Adult Education and Literacy program to TWC in 2013) comprise Texas Workforce Solutions. The accomplishments that span the history of the TWC and the Workforce Solutions network are numerous.

During this 20-year span, millions of Texans have received employment services. These services include job placement, assistance with job -search resources, résumé and application preparation, job training and referrals, and many more. Most employment services are provided through Workforce Solutions offices, or career centers, located throughout the state and operated by the Workforce Solutions boards.

Texas Workforce Solutions Permian Basin Executive Director Willie Taylor has been the leader of that region’s local board since the inception of the Texas model and has seen how the system’s design has evolved over the years.

“Now that our system has matured, it gives me great pleasure to see how we are more flexible and responsive to industry needs and to job seekers, and are building a solid partnership with education,” said Taylor. “Thanks to the leadership and staff at TWC and the collaboration between TWC and the local boards, our Texas model is truly changing the lives of customers in our communities.”

Judy McDonald, executive director of Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County has also seen how Texas’ position as a national leader in workforce development has served her community and the state over the past 20 years.

“It has been our great luck to be in the state that is leading innovation in workforce development,” said McDonald. “The Texas system vision has allowed for local flexibility to collaboratively innovate and design the delivery of services. I believe this respect for local intelligence and creativity has resulted in a much more effective, efficient and responsive system. In the last two decades, together we have transformed the depth of our community impact and achieved legendary statewide success.”

The needs of employers are key to the success of this community –focused system. Over the past two decades, the emphasis on employer engagement has tripled the number of employers utilizing workforce system services each year. An estimated 90,000 employers will be served by the Workforce Solutions network this year through employee training programs, applicant screening and referrals, job fairs, analysis of labor market information and many other customized services that help equip Texas businesses with the skilled workforce they need.

“Texas has gained the recognition of being the best state for business, and is committed to serving Texas employers,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “The evolution of services provided by the Texas Workforce Solutions network, has played a huge role in job creation and the economic prosperity of our state and we can take pride in all that this agency has accomplished.”

The state’s Skills Development Fund job-training program is one example of a successful program that serves employers, workers and communities by providing in-demand skills training. The program has expanded over the years and has helped create or upgrade more than 334,800 jobs since its inception which coincides with the 1996 creation of TWC. Recent expansions of the program have funded specialized training for small businesses and veterans.

One important TWC contribution to the pro-business climate in Texas has come through leveraging resources and applying innovative bond strategies to keep the employer tax burden to a minimum, even during tumultuous periods that resulted from national economic downturns.

During those downturns and other difficult times, TWC has provided millions of job seekers who found themselves without work, through no fault of their own, with unemployment benefits to help them get by until they were able to return to work. In 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast, more than 134,000 Texans received unemployment assistance after being separated from employment as a result of the storms. In addition, Texas Workforce Solutions kicked into high gear to support thousands of displaced families from along the Gulf Coast who were impacted by the storms.

“Helping individuals connect to employment opportunities that will set them on a course for a prosperous career path is vital to our state’s success,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “This agency and its partners will build on the achievements of the past 20 years and continue to support initiatives that will make these connections possible.”

One such initiative came in 2004, with the launch of a first-of-its kind statewide job matching website called WorkInTexas.com. Since its launch, more than 2.4 million jobs have been filled through connections made from the site. Over the years, the site has undergone continual refinement and enhancements and today boasts more than 250,000 current job openings and more than 425,000 active résumés.

In 2008, TWC created the Texas Veterans Leadership Program to provide military service members with peer-guided assistance as they transition to civilian life and work. Many other veteran-focused initiatives including the College Credit for Heroes program and the Hiring Red, White and You! statewide hiring events have been added to help our returning heroes quickly transition to civilian careers.

The Workforce Solutions network has provided other support services like child care and transportation assistance to millions of Texans to help them overcome barriers to access training and employment.

The ongoing mission of the Texas Workforce Commission and its Workforce Solutions partners is to maximize the power of innovation and partnerships to boost superior business outcomes and realize a competitive advantage for all Texans in the global economy. Through consolidation and integration of state programs and services that address that mission and collaborating with other agencies and community partners, TWC can build on its rich history and take on the next 20 years with the spirit of initiative that has served it throughout its history.