TWC Welcomes Newly Appointed Commissioner Representing the Public Robert D. Thomas

TWC Commissioner Representing Public Robert D Thomas

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) welcomed its new Commissioner Representing the Public, Robert D. Thomas of Austin. Commissioner Thomas joins the three-member Commission and will serve as the representative for the public promoting and supporting the growth of Texas’ world-class employers and talented workforce that will continue to lead the Texas economy toward a promising future.

“I am truly honored to have the opportunity to serve the people of Texas in this capacity,” said TWC Commissioner Thomas. “I look forward to working with Chair Ruth R. Hughs and Commissioner Julian Alvarez, along with our many partners and stakeholders, to continue promoting the innovative workforce and economic development strategies that make Texas the best place to work and do business.”

Commissioner Thomas serves along with fellow Commissioners Ruth R. Hughs, TWC Chair and Commissioner Representing Employers and Julian Alvarez, TWC Commissioner Representing Labor. Together, the commissioners promote and support a workforce system that creates value and offers employers, individuals, and communities the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity.

“It is my great pleasure to welcome Commissioner Thomas to TWC and the Texas Workforce Solutions network,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “His skills and expertise will certainly be a benefit to the state of Texas and I look forward to serving alongside him to address the workforce needs of our state.”

Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Thomas served as principal of the Thomas Consulting Group. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the Real Estate Council of Austin and the Entrepreneur Organization – Austin Chapter.

In addition to his work in the private sector, Thomas is also a gubernatorial appointee and Chair of the Texas Facilities Commission and former gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. Additionally, he is a member of the Austin Community College Bond Oversight Committee and the Downtown Austin Vision Steering Committee, former member of the Travis County Civil and Family Courts Committee, and former board member of the African American Cultural Heritage District.

“Commissioner Thomas brings a wealth of knowledge and experience,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “The public of our great state will benefit from his expertise and the high standards set by his office and staff.”

Thomas is a graduate of Loyola University, The University of Texas School of Law, and the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin.

For information and resources available to the Texas public, visit the web page of the TWC Commissioner Representing the Public on the TWC website.

Texas’ Unemployment Rate Falls to New Record Low 3.8%

TWC September 2018 Texas Labor Market DataTexas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent, down from 3.9 percent in August 2018 and setting a new record for the lowest unemployment rate recorded in four decades. The Texas economy added 15,600 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in September. Annual employment growth for Texas was 3.3 percent in September, marking 27 consecutive months of annual growth.

“Texas employers continue to contribute to our state’s success with private-sector employers adding 16,700 jobs in September and accounting for an impressive 402,500 jobs over the year,” said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chair Ruth Ruggero Hughs. “Texas’ continued addition of jobs over a 27-month period demonstrates the competitive advantage and market opportunities available to our Texas employers and world-class workforce.”

September’s annual growth in the state’s Goods Producing industries was strong at 6.9 percent. Over the month, Construction added 3,000 jobs, followed by the Manufacturing industry with 2,800 positions, while Mining and Logging employment expanded by 2,600 positions.

In Texas’ Service Providing sector, Financial Activities added 5,800 positions over the month, and led all industries in job growth for September. Also within this sector, Professional and Business Services added 2,500 jobs, followed by Trade, Transportation, and Utilities which added 2,100.

“Texas’ labor force is made up of hard-working individuals who are eager to obtain the skills that our employers need,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “I encourage all job seekers to contact their local Workforce Solutions office for assistance with job training and placement.”

View the Texas Labor Market Highlights for September 2018 from TWC Labor Commissioner Julian Alvarez:

The Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.2 percent, followed by the Amarillo MSA and the Odessa MSA which had the second lowest with a rate of 2.7 percent. The Austin-Round Rock and College Station- Bryan MSAs recorded the third lowest rate of 2.9 percent for September.

“Texas continues to flourish thanks to the outstanding efforts and talents of individuals and employers in communities around the state,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Robert D. Thomas.  “TWC will continue to promote innovative workforce and economic development strategies in collaboration with our education partners, local leaders, and industry to preserve our competitive edge in the best place to work in the world.”

Employment estimates released by TWC are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. All estimates are subject to revision. To access this and more employment data, visit tracer2.com.

To see the full September Texas Labor Market release, please visit the TWC website.

Follow us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter for more updates about Texas Labor Market Data.

From ‘Call of Duty’ to Sense of Duty: How a Rio Grande Valley Student Used TWC-Funded Cybersecurity 8 Week Bootcamp to Launch Ethical Hacker Career

Photo: TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez (right) and newly hired Booz Allen Hamilton employee Jared Stephens (left) pose for a photograph.
Photo: TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez (right) and newly hired Booz Allen Hamilton employee Jared Stephens (left) pose for a photograph.

Typically, when you land your first serious job you feel grateful someone wants to hire you—even if your salary requirements and expectations aren’t all that incredibly high.

Also, typically, when you hear the term ‘bootcamp,’ connotations of rough military training, heavy boots, intense drills, camouflaged faces and threatening drill sergeants come to mind.

When Jared Stephens attended his first bootcamp in Mission, Texas June 2017—there were no hard boots or roaring drill sergeants. In fact, the experience was entirely pleasant and life changing—enough to later catapult him to a position on an international cyber team with a leading Fortune 500 company.

“I didn’t know I could get paid to be a hacker one day,” said Jared. “In fact, I didn’t know there were jobs such as ethical hacker and penetration tester in cybersecurity. I now know the certification the bootcamp offered makes a difference to the international clients we work with.”

In an industry that is growing exponentially, in retrospect, if Stephens is testimony to anything it’s that cybersecurity bootcamps can potentially solve the problem of a severe shortage of core technology workers in cybersecurity IT and advance your career.

Today, employers across Texas and the United States are seeking thousands of core technology workers in cybersecurity to fill current and future staffing needs. In 2016, tech industry employment in Texas grew by more than 11,000 jobs, according to CompTIA’s Cyberstates 2017 report. Even with this new hiring, employers posted job openings for more than 42,600 tech occupations in Q4 2016.

In 2017, the U.S. employed almost 780,000 people in cybersecurity positions, and hosted approximately 350,000 cybersecurity openings, according to CyberSeek, a project supported by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

According to the Labor Market and Career website, information security analysts’ employment rate is expected to increase in Texas by 32 percent and the average annual Texas wages is $92,891. Move to the Capital Area, Rural Capital, Deep East Texas or the Gulf Coast and that salary average increases to $100,000 plus.

After bootcamp and certification, Jared Stephens received an offer letter from Booz Allen Hamilton in March 23, 2018. It read, “At Booz Allen Hamilton, we’ve got a lot of technology, talent and resources, but we’re missing something. You.” Stephens was offered a full-time senior consultant position in San Diego, California as a Cybersecurity Tester with a handsome compensatory starting salary, and told that he would be “an essential part of [their] mission to leave the world a better place.”

How did 24-year-old Jared Stephens find himself in the lucrative field of a cybersecurity IT related career? The answer lies partially in a cybersecurity bootcamp connected to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

In Summer 2017, Jared attended a cyber bootcamp connected to a High Demand Job Training (HDJT) state grant provided by the Mission Economic Development Corporation (Mission EDC) in partnership with Workforce Solutions, the local workforce development board (WFS), CompTIA and TWC. This grant was part of a statewide effort to support collaborations between Workforce Solutions partners and local economic development entities to create occupational job training programs to improve the skill sets of individuals for jobs in high-demand occupations in Texas communities.

“This bootcamp was focused on filling a need in professional certification of IT workers in cybersecurity,” said Alex Meade, Mission EDC CEO.  “The demand for certified workers encompassed and continues to encompass all industries in IT departments and companies that provide IT services to businesses both large and small.”

Obviously, there was a recognized need to provide the availability of IT related bootcamps to residents in the Rio Grande Valley. This partnership program provided a total of 40 participants who met WIOA basic eligibility requirements with a rigorous 8-week cybersecurity bootcamp utilizing a new partnership with CompTIA.

“This kind of collaboration provides high-tech customized training for high-demand cybersecurity careers while increasing business’ competitiveness in the global market,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “I couldn’t be happier for Jared Stephens, and his cohort. He’s a credit to the program and a testimony that camps like this really do work. I look forward to eventually meeting more individuals like Jared who have been given the same chance and opportunities in other cities along the border.”

Jared’s real interest and passion for cybersecurity and coding, meanwhile, started with video games and a game entitled ‘Call of Duty.’ It was through ‘Call of Duty’ that Jared first witnessed unethical behavior, adversaries and computer hacking. He wondered what else one could do with signed code?

“I observed what these hackers were doing and wondered how they were doing what they were doing,” said Jared.

It would lead to his becoming a Computer Science college major for a period at Texas A&M in 2012.

Though he left college before graduating, he remembered his “Call of Duty” days and unethical hacker friends and was determined he could make a lot of money writing code and program—which led him to major in Computer Science and minor in Physics. Having left college without a final degree, Jared eventually applied to bootcamp to gain the certification he knew would help his own sense of duty.

Certification does matter. As part of the summer boot program, Jared and his cohorts completed a series of CompTIA vendor-neutral skills certifications for technology professionals that are widely sought after by companies all over the United States and the world. All cohorts and participants received the CompTIA series of professional certifications, including A+, Network+, Security+, and Cybersecurity Analyst+ certifications at graduation which ensures they are more than a little marketable.

One grant, multiple benefiters. There were 39 other fellow classmates who benefited from the grants. Jared stated that one of his fellow cohorts—Amy Martínez-Nagy—who he has remained friends with—also started as a vivid enthusiast of video games as he did.

“Initially, Amy struggled in bootcamp at the beginning because most of it was new to her,” Jared stated. “She never had any cybersecurity experience previous like I did, but now she works for the City of San Juan in IT as a Level II specialist. This camp was really great for her.”

As cybersecurity threats grow both in numbers and in risks they pose to organizations, the plan is to help build capacity in South Texas so that future cybersecurity certification boot camps such as this one may continue.

All we can say is we’re impressed with Jared Stephens and with these grants that support organizations like Mission EDC and CompTIA—where do we sign up?

For more information visit missionedc.com or comptia.org.

Texas Economy Adds 23,500 Positions in July

The Texas economy added 23,500 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in July, which marked 25 consecutive months of employment growth. Over the year, Texas added 377,100 jobs for an annual employment growth rate of 3.1 percent.

TWC July Texas Labor Data showing 23,500 jobs added and 4.0 percent unemployment

“Private-sector employers continue to boost the Texas economy adding another 25,900 jobs in July and 372,700 jobs over the year, said Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Chair Ruth Ruggero Hughs. “Thanks to the innovation and expansion by employers in a wide range of industries, Texans continue to be offered more opportunities to demonstrate their first-class skills and start a career in the nation’s #1 state for business.”

July’s annual growth in the state’s Goods Producing industries was strong at 6.2 percent. Over the month, Construction led all major industries, adding 10,500 jobs.

In Texas’ Service Providing sector, Trade, Transportation and Utilities added 7,500 positions over the month.  Also within this sector, Education and Health Services added 6,400 jobs, followed by Leisure and Hospitality with a gain of 5,700 positions.

TWC July Texas Labor Data jobs growth by industries: 7,500 in trade, transportation and utilities, 6,400 in education and health services and 5,700 in leisure and hospitality.

“The Texas labor force continues to provide employers with the skills and expertise needed to keep the Texas economy growing,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “TWC is continually committed to developing innovative workforce programs and supporting Texas businesses with a skilled talent pipeline that is unmatched throughout the nation.”

View the July 2018 Texas Labor Market Highlights from TWC Labor Commissioner Julian Alvarez:

The Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a not seasonally adjusted rate of 2.2 percent, followed by the Amarillo and Odessa MSAs with a rate of 2.9 percent, each. The Austin-Round Rock MSA recorded the fourth lowest rate of 3.1 percent for July.

Employment estimates released by TWC are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. All estimates are subject to revision. To access this and more employment data, visit tracer2.com.

To see the full July Texas Labor Market release, please visit the TWC website.

Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for more updates about Texas Labor Market Data.

Texas Economy Adds 27,200 Positions in June

The Texas economy added 27,200 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in June, which marked 24 consecutive months of employment growth. Over the year, Texas added 359,500 jobs for an annual employment growth rate of 2.9 percent.

Total Nonag Annual Employment Growth (Seasonally Adjusted)

“Recognition of Texas as the premier place to do business in the country is reinforced by employers adding another 27,200 jobs in June and an impressive 359,500 jobs over the year,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Broad-based growth across our industries remains solid with ten of eleven industries adding jobs in the dynamic and prolific job creating Texas economy.”

June’s annual growth in the state’s Goods Producing industries was strong at 5.8 percent. Over the month, Mining and Logging added 4,900 jobs, followed by the Construction industry with 2,900 positions, while Manufacturing employment expanded by 2,600 positions.

In Texas’ Service Providing sector, Professional and Business added 7,300 positions over the month, and led all industries in job growth for June.  Also within this sector, Education and Health Services added 6,000 jobs, followed by Leisure and Hospitality with a gain of 3,500 positions.

Texas-U.S. CES Seasonally Adjusted Comparison Sheet Annual Growth - June 2018

“Private-sector employment remained strong with Texas employers adding 351,700 jobs over the year and 26,400 jobs added in June,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employer Ruth Ruggero Hughs. “TWC is committed to developing innovative workforce programs and supporting Texas businesses with a skilled talent pipeline that is unmatched throughout the nation.”

View the Texas Labor Market highlights from Commissioner Ruth R. Hughs:

Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.4 percent, followed by the Amarillo MSA, which had the second lowest with a rate of 3.1 percent. The Austin-Round Rock, and Odessa MSAs recorded the third lowest rate of 3.2 percent for June.

“All Goods Producing industries showed positive employment growth in Texas, including Construction, which expanded by 2,900 jobs in June,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “The Texas labor force has continued to provide employers with the skills and expertise needed to keep the Texas economy growing.”

Employment estimates released by TWC are produced in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. All estimates are subject to revision. To access this and more employment data, visit tracer2.com.

Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for more updates about Texas Labor Market Data.

31 Central Texas Employers Honored at ‘We Hire Vets’ Ceremony for their Commitment to Hiring Veterans

PHOTO: Workforce Solutions of Central Texas COO Ken Cox, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs, and Central Texas Workforce Development Board Executive Director Susan Kamas, at the Killeen "We Hire Vets" event.
PHOTO: Workforce Solutions of Central Texas COO Ken Cox, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs, and Central Texas Workforce Development Board Executive Director Susan Kamas, at the Killeen “We Hire Vets” event.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and Workforce Solutions of Central Texas honored 31 area employers for their commitment to hiring veterans during a recent “We Hire Vets” recognition ceremony.

The event was held at Workforce Solutions of Central Texas Killeen on May 25.

Launched in 2017, “We Hire Vets” is an employer recognition program developed by TWC in partnership with the Texas Veterans Commission and Texas Workforce Solutions Offices, to recognize Texas employers for their efforts in hiring our nation’s heroes. Employers whose workforce is comprised of at least 10 percent military veterans are eligible to receive a “We Hire Vets” employer recognition decal to display on their storefront, as well as an electronic decal to display on the employer’s website.

Among the many employers recognized at the event was McLane Southwest, one of the largest supply chain services leaders in the country, maintaining one of the nation’s most expansive private fleets.

“At McLane Southwest, we feel it is a value to pursue and hire our veterans of this great country. In fact, 14.7 percent of McLane Southwest’s workforce is comprised of veterans,” said Gary Johnson, McLane Southwest Division President of Grocery Supply Chain Solutions. “These individuals come from a previous background where a culture of accomplishment and teamwork are second nature. Many of them possess some form of leadership training and capability, and they take their assigned responsibilities very seriously. Our veterans are not afraid of hard work, and given the right opportunity and support, they become some of the most valuable assets to our organization.”

McLane Southwest's Warriors to Wheels LogoMcLane’s commitment to veterans led the company to launch a Registered Driver Apprenticeship program featuring a veteran initiative, Warriors to Wheels.

The Warriors to Wheels program is designed to attract and provide military veterans an “earn while you learn” training model that utilizes their military training experience to move into a career in transportation. McLane offers careers that don’t require drivers to be away from their families for extended periods of time. Delivery drivers run 1-2-day routes, with over 80 distribution centers nationwide.

“McLane values military veterans and the work ethic and skills they bring to the table. Because of this, McLane decided to provide an opportunity for veterans to utilize their military training and start a new career in transportation, with the goal of becoming part of the McLane family. This program enables eligible veterans to take full advantage of their GI Bill benefits while training to become a McLane Driver. For more information and a list of participating locations, please go to www.mclanew2w.com,” said Jennifer Rojas Clause, Inclusion and EEO Compliance Manager at McLane.

Another Central Texas employer who was recognized for their commitment to hiring veterans is Seton Medical Center Harker Heights (SMCHH), whose workforce is comprised of at least 12 percent military veterans.

PHOTO: (L) Michael Hales, RN at Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, Zachary K. Dietze, CEO of Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs, and Central Texas Workforce Development Board Executive Director Susan Kamas, at the Killeen "We Hire Vets" event.
PHOTO: (L) Michael Hales, RN at Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, Zachary K. Dietze, CEO of Seton Medical Center Harker Heights, TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs, and Central Texas Workforce Development Board Executive Director Susan Kamas, at the Killeen “We Hire Vets” event.

SMCHH offers an array of health services for the Central Texas community, such as a Cardiology, Emergency Services and a Level IV Trauma Designated Emergency Room.

“At Seton Medical Center Harker Heights we are honored to be recognized by ‘We Hire Vets.’ We understand the advantages that come with hiring veterans and the invaluable experience they bring to our organization. We will continue to make it a priority to hire veterans and are fortunate to be part of the larger Fort Hood community,” said SMCHH CEO Zachary K. Dietze.

Some of the other employers recognized at the Killeen event included Azbell Electronics, Central Texas College, the Cities of Belton, Harker Heights, Lampasas and Rockdale, as well as General Dynamics Land Systems.

For maintaining a workforce of about 25 percent veterans, the Workforce Solutions of Central Texas Board and Workforce Center were also recognized at the Killeen event by TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs.

During previous recognition events, Lockheed Martin, Prudential Financial, the San Antonio Police Department and Southwest Airlines have been honored as “We Hire Vets” employers.

We Hire Vets LogoEmploying veterans creates a dedicated workforce with employees who know how to lead, build teams, and accept and meet challenges. Recognition of employers with veteran-friendly hiring practices is an important aspect of the Texas Operation Welcome Home (TOWH) initiative that assists recently separated veterans with employment and training opportunities.

As Gov. Greg Abbott shared when the “We Hire Vets” program was launched, “It is important to recognize current employers utilizing our highly-skilled veteran workforce, and encourage future employers to consider veterans in their hiring process. While we can never say ‘thank you’ enough, the ‘We Hire Vets’ program will create well-deserved opportunities to get our veterans back into the workforce.”

For more information on TOWH and the “We Hire Vets” program, and to download the “We Hire Vets” nomination/employer form, visit www.TexasOperationWelcomeHome.org.

Full List of Central Texas Employers Recognized at the Event:

More Photos from the Event:

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Summer Work Program Entering Second Year, Aims to Connect 2,000 Texas Students with Jobs and Soft Skills: Colton Head is Ready

Work experience equips you with certain soft skills such as effective communication, time management, and problem solving, all of which are sought after by employers.

Last year Colton Head learned these soft skills while working at H-E-B in Austin. This year, Colton and other students in Texas will receive paychecks again by participating in Summer Earn and Learn, a program that provides students with disabilities, aged 14-22, with work-readiness training and paid work experience. The program is a partnership between TWC, Texas Workforce Solutions Offices and Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services (TWS-VRS).

Colton started gaining work experience in the 2017 Summer Earn and Learn program through Workforce Solutions Capital Area. While working at H-E-B, Colton provided customer service, stocked groceries and retrieved carts from the parking lot. Colton said the positive experience he gained motivated him to participate in the 2018 program.

Photo Colton Head
Photo: Colton Head

“H-E-B was my first job, and when I started working, I was nervous. But after a few days, I quickly learned how to complete my job duties,” said Colton. “It was a great experience to learn about working and receiving a paycheck.”

Later this month, Colton will know more about his 2018 employment placement. He hopes the job will relate to his career interest of photography. He recently completed photography and digital imaging classes at Austin Community College. To hone his skills, he’s been volunteering to take photos for family and friends.

“I’m trying to get into the habit of taking my camera with me wherever I go, because my mom constantly stresses the importance of always being ready for your career goals,” said Colton.

Though he knows his summer will be busy with work and photography, Colton is confident he will be successful and cites the support of his mom and TWS-VRS counselors as motivators.

“I just really appreciate people who take the time to help you, to make you feel comfortable,” he said.

Last year, more than 1,500 students participated in Summer Earn and Learn and worked in positions as assistant graphic designers, customer service representatives, peer counselors and others. Small and large businesses who participated in the program include Alamo College in San Antonio, the Clements Boys & Girls Club in Killeen and CVS, H-E-B, and Verizon locations throughout the state.

Workforce Solutions Offices are actively reaching out to students, parents and employers to spread the word about the 2018 Summer Earn and Learn program and encourage participation. Informational efforts include:

For more information about the Summer Earn and Learn program, contact your local Workforce Solutions Office.

Symbol of Unity, Tradition: TVLP Helps American Legion Present Stetsons to 1st Cavalry Troopers at Fort Hood

PHOTO: U.S. Army Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division pose with John McKinny of the American Legion - Department of Texas, and TWC Texas Veterans Leadership Program Manager Jeff Singh.
PHOTO: U.S. Army Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division pose with John McKinny of the American Legion – Department of Texas, and TWC Texas Veterans Leadership Program Manager Jeff Singh.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP), in conjunction with the American Legion – Department of Texas and Fort Hood, presented 10 Stetsons to a U.S. Army 1st Cavalry Division unit during a recent ceremony at the Central Texas military installation.

PHOTO: John McKinny with the American Legion - Department of Texas, presents a Cavalry Stetson to a U.S. Army soldier with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.
PHOTO: John McKinny with the American Legion – Department of Texas, presents a Cavalry Stetson to a U.S. Army soldier with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.

John McKinny, an Army veteran and former American Legion State Commander, presented the Stetsons directly to soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion along with the unit’s commanders.

McKinny said the Stetsons were donated to the Battalion by the American Legion Travis Post 76 Honor Guard, as a way to give back to our service men and women.

“It’s refreshing to see the dedication of these soldiers. I’m excited about this new generation of veterans,” he said.

McKinny entered the U. S. Army in 1969 and served two years, one of which was in Vietnam. He was honorably discharged as a Specialist (E-5). After returning from military service, he was hired by the Texas Workforce Commission (then known as the Texas Employment Commission) as a Veterans Placement Specialist, before being promoted to Interviewer, Site Manager, and then serving as the local office Veterans Employment Representative for the Port Arthur Texas Employment Office.  He went on to serve as the State Director of the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) until his retirement.

PHOTO: John McKinny with the American Legion - Department of Texas, presents a Cavalry Stetson to a U.S. Army soldier with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.

McKinny said when he got out of the service, the American Legion was there for him, to help during his transition back to the civilian world.

“I had nothing when I got back, but with their help I was soon serving as a local veterans representative in Port Arthur, and was able to help fellow-veterans find work — more than 800 within one single month,” he said.

McKinny said while he knows the Army of today is very different that the one he served in, he said ceremonies like this help connect veterans through a strong esprit de corps.

PHOTO: John McKinny with the American Legion - Department of Texas, presents a Cavalry Stetson to a U.S. Army soldier with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.

“I have faith in our future. Today’s generation is tomorrow’s future,” he said.

PHOTO: Stetsons are a standard for all cavalry units in the Army.
PHOTO: Stetsons are a standard for all cavalry units in the Army.

The tradition of the Cavalry Hat (Stetson) began in the early days before the Vietnam War, and has continued to become the standard for all cavalry units in the Army.

The “Cav Hat” is not an issued item for soldiers, and is not covered in any of the uniform regulations. But the Stetsons are worn by the Troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division and many other cavalry units, for ceremonies and special cavalry events, according to the Division.

Hat cords are worn and represent the rank of the wearer. General officers wear solid gold cords, field and company grade officers wear black and gold hat cords, warrant officers wear black and silver hat cords and enlisted Troopers wear Cavalry yellow hat cords. Normally the branch insignia of the Cavalry, crossed sabers, are worn on the front along with the rank of the wearer.

PHOTO: 1st Sgt. Dailey of the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion speaks to his Troopers about giving back to the community.
PHOTO: 1st Sgt. Dailey of the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion speaks to his Troopers about giving back to the community.

During the ceremony at Fort Hood, the unit’s senior non-commissioned officer (NCO), 1st Sgt. Dailey, called his Troopers to formation and asked them to consider their lives after their time in the Army, and to seek out TWC services and to learn from the example that McKinny and many other veterans in public service have set.

“You never stop serving,” said Dailey to his troops. “If you plan to take advantage of the GI Bill to go to college, you have American Legion members like Mr. McKinny to thank for that. They introduced it in 1944. Veterans serving veterans.”

PHOTO: John McKinny with the American Legion - Department of Texas, speaks to soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.
PHOTO: John McKinny with the American Legion – Department of Texas, speaks to soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division.

After the Stetsons were handed out by McKinny to selected members of the unit, he told the troops about the last time he stood in formation as a solider, in Vietnam.

“As we stood together, the enemy started shelling our position, and dropping ordinance right on top of us. That was the last time I stood within a formation like this. I hope you leave the service with good memories of serving together, and of participating in ceremonies like this,” he said.

In appreciation for his many years of service to veterans, Dailey and his Troopers presented McKinny with a military pin bearing the unit’s insignia.

PHOTO: During the ceremony, 1st Sgt. Dailey and his Troopers presented Mr. McKinny with a military pin bearing the unit's insignia.
PHOTO: During the ceremony, 1st Sgt. Dailey and his Troopers presented Mr. McKinny with a military pin bearing the unit’s insignia.

“Wow! Just, wow. Thank you all,” said McKinny with gratitude to the soldiers.

Following the ceremony, the soldiers who received the Stetsons thanked McKinny personally, and posed for photos with him. Many of them said they were honored by the gift.

“They didn’t have to do any of this,” said one soldier. “But to know that they went out of their way to make us feel special, and to honor the traditions of the 1st Cav, that’s special.

“These Stetsons were handed down to us with pride. There’s a lot of honor in that,” said another soldier.

PHOTOS: PHOTO: Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion show off their new Cavalry Stetsons.
PHOTOS: PHOTO: Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade Engineer Battalion show off their new Cavalry Stetsons.

“Veterans service organizations, such as the American Legion, are critical to keeping the focus on veterans issues,” said TVLP Program Manager Jeff Singh. “This ceremony at Fort Hood was a wonderful opportunity to bring these organizations together to keep that bridge open — for relationship building, to preserve military heritage and for the continuing of service traditions into civilian life.”

TWC Texas Veterans Leadership Program Logo

TVLP is a program under TWC’s Texas Operation Welcome Home (TOWH), and assists veterans and transitioning service members as they resume civilian life in Texas.  This program provides critical resource and referral services to assist these veterans in connecting with necessary employment and training services, as well as locating existing resources that can provide other ancillary services. Modeled after the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program, TVLP is overseen by a state director, and 22 local Veterans Resource and Referral Specialists (VRRS).

For more information on military transition, skills training and career resources available just for veterans in Texas, visit TexasOperationWelcomeHome.com.

See More Photos from the Ceremony:

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Texas Economy Adds 34,700 Positions in May

In May, the Texas economy marked 23 consecutive months of employment growth, adding 34,700 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs . Over the year, Texas added 352,100 jobs for an annual employment growth rate of 2.9 percent. Private-sector employers added 34,300 positions over the month. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.1 percent in May, unchanged from April 2018.

“Texas employers continue to put the world class Texas workforce to work, adding 34,700 jobs in May and 352,100 over the year,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar.  TWC continues to work with our local and Tri-Agency partners to foster innovative strategies to equip the Texas talent pool with industry aligned skills.  Job creation is strong in Texas.”

May’s annual growth in the state’s Goods Producing industries was strong at 5.7 percent. Over the month, the Construction industry added 5,800 jobs, followed by Mining and Logging with 4,100 positions, while Manufacturing employment expanded by 3,400 positions.

Photo: Number of Manufacturing Employers in Texas Metro Areas, Forth Quarter 2017
Photo: Number of Manufacturing Employers in Texas Metro Areas, Forth Quarter 2017

In Texas’ Service Providing sector, Education and Health Services added 8,100 positions over the month, and led all industries in job growth for May.  Also within this sector, Professional and Business Services added 4,300 jobs, followed by Leisure and Hospitality with a gain of 3,500 positions.

“Employers continue to contribute to our state’s great success.  Private-sector employers have accounted for the addition of 346,300 positions in Texas over the past year as the state has continued to expand its workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employer Ruth R. Hughs. “As employment continues to grow, I invite Texas employers whose workforce is comprised of at least 10 percent Texas veterans to apply for our We Hire Vets recognition program. We want to thank businesses for their commitment to hiring our nation’s heroes and strengthening the Texas economy.”

Midland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 2.1 percent, followed by the Amarillo MSA, which had the second lowest with a rate of 2.6 percent. The Austin-Round Rock, College Station-Bryan, Lubbock, and Odessa MSAs all recorded the third lowest rate of 2.8 percent for May.

“Several Goods Producing industries are showing strength in Texas, including Construction,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “I encourage our labor force to connect with TWC’s apprenticeship training program that can help prepare them for a well-paying career. One of the best ways that adults learn skills is in applied studies.”

View the Texas Labor Market highlights from Commissioner Julian Alvarez:

 

Willie Taylor: Permian Basin Workforce Board CEO with a Lifetime of Service, Credits Partnerships, Board Stability for Success

Asking the right questions isn’t just for journalists and writers. Questions are also how we grow. They help us pass our experiences from one person to the next.

PHOTO: Willie Taylor, Permian Basin Workforce Board CEO
PHOTO: Willie Taylor, Permian Basin Workforce Board CEO

“I’m a firm believer that the only difference between me and my customer is my desk,” says Willie Taylor, CEO for Workforce Solutions Permian Basin, known to invite job seekers into his office and whose staff provide work search and related services to people in 17 counties, 15 of which are rural. “It could be me looking for a job, it could be me without transportation, or I could be needing day care to go to work,” Taylor says.

Meanwhile, it’s likely more than a desk that makes the lifelong Odessa resident different from others. In the office by 6 a.m. each morning, Taylor has led the Workforce Board since its certification in 1996. Taylor’s been “in the system” for 46 years, he says, working to bring services to his community since the 1970s, and has learned what is effective for successful workforce development: partnerships and stability.

What is the most important thing you feel you do that contributes to the success of your local Workforce Development Board?

It’s all about building partnerships, especially with local colleges and universities, economic development councils, the chamber. Once you develop those partnerships, it’s easier to get things done in the community: for example, retooling your colleges to provide training in automotive, diesel or trade. We have our targeted occupations list, which we take into the public-school system and work with (guidance) counselors to help students make informed career choices.

Can you tell me something your Board is doing to prepare for current and future workforce demands?

Our board is focused on growing our own workforce, since we have challenges bringing people here. We’re blessed to have three community colleges: Odessa, Midland and Howard College, Texas Tech for medicine, UT Permian Basin for engineering. The cost of living is high, but if workers have a place to live and family here, or they’re going to school here, we can develop our existing workforce rather than relocate workers here.

We’ve been hit hard with a lack of truck drivers, due to the demands of the oil and gas industry. We’re applying for a high demand occupation grant partnering TWC with Midland Development Corporation to train 75-90 more truck drivers in a four-month program that’s got a 90% passing rate.

Permian Basin Workforce Development Board CEO Willie Taylor (left) with Mary Dunlap, senior human resources manager, and Mark Horner, senior human resources manager, at Warren Equipment Company at a Texas Workforce Conference in 2017.
PHOTO: Permian Basin Workforce Development Board CEO Willie Taylor (left) with Mary Dunlap, senior human resources manager, and Mark Horner, senior human resources manager, at Warren Equipment Company at a Texas Workforce Conference in 2017.

How did you end up in a career in workforce development?

Even when I was in college, I loved working with people and helping them. After college, I worked in the oil and gas industry, exploration and production, for 2-3 years, then for the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission. In the mid-1970s I took a summer youth counseling job under the Manpower Development Training Act, and I became the executive director at the planning commission.

What do you do outside of the office?

I love playing golf, and I have an automotive repair shop, where I love working on Chevys and Fords. I [also] volunteer. I’m president of the Medical Center Hospital Family Clinics, which serves about 4,000 people who come to see medical doctors for treatment.

Would you like to share a success story? 

In workforce development you touch a lot of lives, and you don’t know how much you impact them until you see them making a living for their families.

In Seminole, Texas, we had a rancher going through a difficult time. I worked with him with our dislocated worker program, which helped farmers and ranchers.  I was working with him — and when you think of a farmer you think independent. I got him into training at Midland College’s air conditioning training and started his own business. He’s doing very well now, in business more than 20 years.