Photo: Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron S. Demerson, Chairman Bryan Daniel, and Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez.
We are strong, we are Texas, and we are hardworking Americans. We all work hard to earn a living, to move forward in life and to be able to give our family everything they need.
This Labor Day weekend, we at Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) dedicate a special greeting to those who strive every day to give the best to their family – to place food on the table. You, as working Texans, are the individuals who move the economy of this great state and therefore deserve multiple congratulations. You are the number one reason new Texas businesses move here every day.
This holiday, TWC recognizes the more than 14 million workers who are the backbone of our strong Texas economy. The state’s economic miracle is directly linked to the innovation and competitiveness of employers in a range of growing industries providing workers with more opportunities to demonstrate their world-class skills. However, that would not be possible without our workers.
A look back in review, this past year has been remarkable for Texas. The Texas labor market continues to add jobs with the addition of 323,300 positions added between July 2018 and July 2019. Our state’s unemployment rate remained at a historic low of 3.4 percent in July, slightly below the national rate of 3.7 percent. We are laying the foundation for a better tomorrow.
We understand the importance of putting Texans to work. TWC and the state’s 28 local workforce development boards, and over 200 Workforce Solutions offices, partner with local economic development organizations, community colleges and other stakeholders to ensure workers have access to job opportunities and to prepare the growing workforce with the advanced skills needed to allow for continued job growth throughout the state of Texas. Additionally, in order to assist individuals in preparing for career opportunities, the Skills Development Fund and Skills for Small Business programs aim to help employers create new jobs and/or upgrade the skills of their current workforce.
The TWC and Texas Workforce Solutions family are grateful for the contributions that Texas’ workers have made to strengthen and prosper our state. As you enjoy this holiday with family or friends, we thank you for helping to make Texas the best place to live and work!
Bryan Daniel, Chairman, Commissioner Representing the Public
Sometimes the best quotes have a special power to inspire us to change our mindset, see things from a fresh perspective, and perhaps propel us into action.
“I dwell in possibility,” said the poet Emily Dickinson. She also stated, “Hope springs eternal.”
At Lockhart Correctional Facility in
Lockhart, Texas—a minimum-security prison located in Caldwell County, 32 miles
from downtown Austin and better known for its barbecue than its jail—on every
wall, along every corridor in the facility, female inmates have painted their
favorite inspiring quotes with murals, including quotes by Dickinson.
Lockhart Correctional Facility believes in second chances for its inmates and prepping these females for future work success. It provides many work opportunities, educational and vocational programs to its offenders and is managed by Management & Training Corporation (MTC) who believe in rehabilitation through educational opportunities. Their motto is BIONIC (an acronym for Believe it or not I care).
One of the new pilot programs teaches female inmates trade skills in manufacturing to set them up for employment in industry upon their release into society.
“I was brought in in shackles and released in shackles. Today, for my graduation ceremony, I walked in the front door like everyone else—a free woman, only this time I have a college certificate and an industry certification,” said Casey Brem, 35 of Midland, wiping tears from her face.
Brem is one of 14 students who graduated on August 24, 2019 from the Certified Production Technician program. She was released early in July, but continued her studies for the program at home and then voluntarily returned to the facility via a 5-hour drive from Midland with her mother to graduate alongside her 13 fellow students.
While completing the course work through ACC, the 14 students also took their national manufacturing certification assessments with a nearly 100% success rate and walked across the stage to receive their diploma from their Engineering Program Instructor, Rosalba Schramm, and Don Tracy, the administrator of ACC correctional educational program.
“It takes partnerships. Meanwhile, these women have worked so tremendously hard,” Tracy continued. “They’ve earned this.”
The training is funded through a Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) program and utilized existing manufacturing equipment available within the industry program at the facility.
What will happen after graduation? As each participant has a different release date from incarceration after they graduate from the program, they will work closely with TWC Workforce Solutions Rural Capital case managers to review career options with local employers in Hays and Caldwell counties (and other WFS offices across the state) to leverage their certifications.
“It was an honor to help celebrate with these graduates and their families as they accomplished this milestone in their personal and professional lives,” said Workforce Solutions Rural Capital AreaCEO Paul Fletcher. “This manufacturing certification program came as a result of listening to the workforce needs of our industry partners, and then tapping into our strong community partnerships to deliver training solutions.”
“Today tells us what can be done when thinking outside the box happens with people with big ideas and big hearts,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez, who was the main commencement speaker at the graduation. He received no less than eight standing ovations from the inmates and their families.
“With a 3.4% unemployment rate in Texas, this is precisely the way we become innovative in our thinking and solve a shortage for skilled workers. Everyone deserves a second chance and these hardworking and inspiring women today only reinforce that message in magnitude,” Alvarez continued.
This is the first time ACC and WSRCA has partnered with the staff at the prison to offer a program like this. Nevertheless, it seems likely to be repeated with funding for the second cohort already approved.
“We all make mistakes and these are someone’s mother or future mother—someone’s sister or daughter,” said Warden Brown – a female with 27 years in the prison industry who stood up to clap for each of her graduating inmates—and who got her own standing ovation.
“These women deserve every opportunity to become all they can be, improve their circumstances and have a second chance at improving their lives,” Brown continued. “I’m so grateful to The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), and others who without their support none of this would be possible,” Brown added.
If adequate employment, training and certification is a prerequisite for successful re-entry into society for all inmates, then this program has already succeeded.
The inmates believe in the importance of the pilot program although some expressed surprise that females were included in the first ever pilot.
“I couldn’t believe they would offer this opportunity first to women. They rarely if ever offer things first to women,” said Alison Albanese, 36, of Corpus Christi, during her commencement speech, fighting back tears and drawing tears from all of her cohorts. “We are just so grateful. You don’t know how grateful we are,” Albanese continued.
When asked what she would tell an
employer who might be hesitant to hire an ex-offender, fighting back tears, as
she held onto her own daughter who came to see her mom walk the stage, Misty
Campbell, 46, of Amarillo, stopped thoughtfully, looked at her daughter, and
then wiped tears from her eyes.
“They should know that we have to work three times as hard as a non-offender and we know that. We have to work harder to establish that trust more than anyone else does. We are just happy for the opportunity to be treated like human beings and we will do whatever it takes,” Campbell stated.
“I’m not the same person who walked in here 4 years ago. This certification has built up my confidence. It has given me hope,” Campbell continued. “I’m ready for another chance. I am stronger this time. I’ll do better.”
Most are familiar with the adage that states, “If you think you can and if you think you can’t, you’re right.” On June 22, 2019, a graduation took place to celebrate those who looked in the mirror and said, “I think I can.”
Thanks to hard work, determination, and a desire to improve their circumstances, nearly 200 incarcerated students (Students) received their Associates Degrees. As part of a collaboration between the Lee College Huntsville Center and the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Initiative, Students were given access to postsecondary courses and have now earned their degrees.
Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez was invited to the facility to meet the graduates and provide the commencement speech for the ceremony.
“A postsecondary degree is a vital step towards finding good paying jobs that lead to financial security,” said Commissioner Alvarez. “I’m proud of the individuals at the Lee College Huntsville Center. We’ve all had obstacles in our lives, some beyond our control, that can be difficult to overcome. I applaud the resolve of these Students as they work to ensure that when the time comes they are properly prepared to find fulfilling careers as part of the thriving Texas workforce.”
The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, so prison education programs that provide opportunities for Students to reenter society with the tools for success are essential. With a focus on promoting degrees aimed at creating self-sufficient Students ready to fill high demand jobs, institutions like the Lee College Huntsville Center are not only enriching the lives of their Students but bettering the community around them.
“Education in prison works,” said Dr. Michael Gary, a Professor at Lee College. “If you get your associate degree, the recidivism rate’s about 10 percent—90 percent stay out, 10 percent come back. With no higher education, the recidivism rate’s about 60 percent—you stand a better than 50-50 chance of coming back to prison.”
For these, and future grads, the TWC will be there to support them when they are ready to reenter the workforce. Utilizing a $100,000 Fidelity Bond Grant that will be available on July 1, 2019, the TWC will be able to coordinate with local boards to apply these funds to help at-risk job applicants, such as ex-offenders, get and keep jobs. Through free fidelity bonding, a type of insurance policy that protects the employer against employee acts of dishonesty such as larceny, embezzlement, and theft, the TWC and the Workforce Development Boards can reduce employers’ concerns about hiring at-risk job applicants who cannot be bonded through other sources.
Either the job applicant or the prospective employer can request bonding through any Workforce Solutions office. If the applicant is eligible, bonding coverage is effective immediately following certification or on the applicant’s first day of work once certified.
A rewarding career that provides job security and peace of mind should be available to all Texans no matter their circumstances. Through TWC sponsored Fidelity Bonding and programs like those available at the Lee College Huntsville Center, a historically underserved population is being given the chance to say, “I think I can,” and better their lives through education.
For the competitors, it all began as nothing more than an idea, a concept, a dream. Next came the challenging and arduous process of pushing the boundaries of science to turn those ideas into reality. No matter the reason they took that first step, the results were spectacular and on display at the 2019 Texas Science and Engineering Fair (TXSEF) hosted by Texas A&M University.
2019 marked the first year that Texas A&M University hosted the event and on March 30th students arrived in College Station to vie for top prizes in 22 project categories. These future engineers and scientists of Texas presented their work to judges and showcased their commitment to improving the world around them through innovation.
“Texas is a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and thanks to the over 1,400 Texas middle and high school students who competed in the 18th Annual Science Fair at Texas A&M University, the future looks bright,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “These students will enter into an increasingly competitive job market with the applied skills in STEM disciplines that are highly coveted by Texas employers. It is important that the state continues to support the next generation by offering them opportunities like the TXSEF where they are provided an amazing platform to demonstrate their tremendous talents.”
The projects on display at the event were a reminder of our scientific evolution. There were no erupting volcanoes or bubbling, smoking beakers from a chemistry set. This is the new, modern science fair where helmets control robotic hands, engines are rebuilt to be more efficient, and where you’ll meet students who decided to act when they saw family members with disabilities struggling to do something as simple as visit relatives.
Madison Burke and Anushka Aggarwai, first place winners in the Junior Division for Systems Software, saw the struggles their family members with disabilities were having with everyday travel and developed software to address this. Their program helps people with disabilities travel safer and more efficiently. Young students with a passion and talent for STEM saw a need and acted.
“This event was a tremendous celebration of innovation and we were proud to welcome these young students to Texas A&M University to showcase their creativity,” said Dr. M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M Engineering vice chancellor and dean. “Participation at the state-level competition is a significant accomplishment and speaks volumes about the support these students have received from their teachers and schools.”
“The Texas Science and Engineering Fair offers a great opportunity for the youth of Texas to learn more about science and engineering, which can lead to future career choices in these areas,” said Truman Bell, chairman of the TXSEF Advisory Board and manager of community relations for ExxonMobil Corporation. “ExxonMobil is pleased to support this effort which will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
There is a shortage of students pursuing careers in STEM, and while this trend continues to be addressed, on a cold and overcast day in College Station the future of Texas looked positively radiant. Texas, its labor force, and the labor force of the world, is going to have a highly intelligent and enthusiastic group of student leaders entering the workforce with the ideas and passion to shape the future.
With high school graduation nearing, many students across Texas are considering their next move be it a traditional or non-traditional route that will involve future careers, job prospects, and potential earnings.
For a group of four students from Beaumont, Jaalah Baaheth, Seth Carl, Savanna Mitchell, and
Nick Walker, the decision to continue with their education was met with much celebration and applause from the State Legislature in Austin as well as Texas Workforce Commission, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Texas Education Agency and Lamar Institute of Technology. These students took part in the first-ever State of Texas Career and Technical Education (CTE) Signing Day.
The celebration kicked off with Texas State Representative James White reading resolution HR 241 on the House floor declaring March 8th Texas’ CTE Signing Day. After the formal reading, the students joined TWC Commissioners Ruth Hughs, Julian Alvarez, and representatives from Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) for a scholarship signing ceremony and reception held at the Texas Workforce Commission building in Austin, Texas.
“There were so many more people there than I thought would be, and it showed that there were a lot more people behind us,” said Jaalah Baaheth, a Biology student at Lamar Institute of Technology. “[Signing day is] going to push me to study harder because I now know people are depending on me. I know that I can do this because there are a whole bunch of people rooting for me.”
CTE Signing Day, meanwhile, was modeled after traditional athletic signing days to celebrate Career and Technical Education. Each of the students received $3,000, a $2,000 ExxonMobil scholarship and LIT President Dr. Lonnie L. Howard surprised the recipients with a personal $1,000 Presidential scholarship, to attend Lamar Institute of Technology and pursue their chosen career track. Fittingly, the Lamar Institute of Technology (LIT) slogan boasts “Get a degree that works,” and is precisely what these students will do. Apparently, 92.8% of students who attend Lamar Institute of Technology find a career after graduation and the school ranks number one in the state for the most significant salary for graduates among two-year colleges.
“There was nothing more exciting than CTE signing day for our students, the parents, and our staff. That level of excitement is still there. The word is spreading,” said Lamar Institute of Technology President Dr. Lonnie Howard. “I want to commend Rep. White, Commissioner Alvarez and all of TWC. It was a breathtaking moment for the students and me. It is something that I will not only remember for my professional career but a moment in time that I will remember for the rest of my life.”
LIT focuses on Career and Technical Education programs that offer a sequence of courses that provide students with relevant technical skills and knowledge needed to prepare for further education and careers in high-demand and emerging industries.
“CTE often flies under the radar, but it’s something that needs more attention,” said Seth Carl, CTE signing day participant studying business. “[This scholarship] is definitely a head start and it will help me better prepare for a future career.”
All the while, demand for highly skilled workers continues to grow across Texas even though the narrative taught to students in classrooms across the state places a higher value on traditional four-year degrees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2012 and 2022 there will be 50,557,900 jobs openings for CTE graduates in 16 different career clusters. CTE Signing Day aims to encourage students to take the less traditional route and consider their job prospects and future earnings.
“It’s really easy to feel pressured to go to a four-year school,” said Savanna Mitchell, Scholarship Recipient studying for her 30-hour OSHA certification which has a projected annual earnings of $72,000. “My Mom and I talked about my options and how there were more opportunities for me at a two-year school than there were at a traditional four-year. Other students should focus on their own personal requirements and desires when deciding what is best for them.”
As Jaalah, Seth, Savanna and Nick gear up for high school graduation and their new career paths, the Texas Workforce Commission continues the celebration, working to expand CTE Signing Day across the state. By sparking enthusiasm for CTE programs and the students choosing to attend them, Texas can come one step closer to meeting industry demands for highly skilled workers. “I want to thank you for sharing this day and for being a wonderful example of what our workforce has to offer,” said Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “Your hard work and dedication will be recognized by our leading Texas industries.”
Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment was 3.7 percent in November, remaining at the same historic 42-year low it was in October. The Texas economy added 14,000 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in November. Annual employment growth for Texas was 3.0 percent in November, marking 103 consecutive months of annual growth.
“The addition of 365,400 jobs over the year and 14,000 jobs in November demonstrates the consistency with which employers in our state create job opportunities for the highly skilled Texas workforce,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “The Texas economy offers employers access to a competitive workforce and provides job seekers with career options in a variety of growing Texas industries. The numbers are a testament to the resilience of our Texas employers and the diversity of our Texas economy.”
The Manufacturing Industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month with 9,100 jobs added and led all industries in growth.
In Texas’ private Service Providing sector, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 8,900 positions in November. Also within this sector, Professional and Business Services added 1,800 followed by Information, which added 1,000 positions.
“Employment demand continues to be high in well-paying industries such as Manufacturing, Construction, and Mining and Logging,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “I encourage career exploration in these and other industries that are growing in Texas. TWC’s labor market information tools and products are designed to inform, prepare and advance our Texas workforce. Visit a Workforce Solutions Office to find out more about the latest employment opportunities available.”
The 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 2.5 percent. The Odessa MSA recorded the third lowest rate of 2.6 percent.
“We have much to be proud of in Texas as we enter the holidays celebrating another month of record-low unemployment and sustained job growth,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Robert D. Thomas. “While we reflect thankfully on the contributions from employers and individuals who made this tremendous record of success possible, we remain steadfastly committed to fostering continued job creation through economic development strategies and collaborative efforts to provide opportunities for all Texans to enjoy self-sufficiency and prosperity.”
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 November Texas Labor Market release, please visit the TWC website.
“Larry is a bright light for all who know him,” said AIFE president John Courtney. “His inventive ideas, unwavering optimism, drive and exceptional humor have paved a path for important innovation not only in Texas but across the United States.”
Mr. Temple has led TWC for more than 20 years, and has guided the agency to a place where TWC serves its varying constituencies—job seekers, employers, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients, unemployment insurance recipients—with a focus on excellent customer service, but also efficiency.
Under his leadership, TWC has grown to 5,000 personnel, with an operating budget of $2 billion. His advocacy for the agency and for its customers has been steadfast and he has done much to further the goals and reputation of TWC during his tenure.
“Larry has been generous with other states, offering advice and inviting peers and their teams to Texas to study, replicate and collaborate with his department on best practices, ” noted AIFE in its award announcement. “Under his leadership, TWC has also actively helped other state workforce agencies in times of crisis. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the TWC unemployment insurance division immediately stepped up and began taking tens of thousands of claims for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, at a time when Texas was dealing with its own catastrophic damage.”
Mr. Temple’s dedication to public service does not end with his service to TWC. He serves as a member of Texas’ P-16 Council, which coordinates policy for Pre-k through the 12th grade public education and higher education. He also serves on the Texas Workforce Investment Council, which is charged with development strategic planning and evaluation that promotes a well-educated and highly skilled workforce.
Mr. Temple brings to the job over 20 years of private-sector management experience in energy, retail and real estate development. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from St. Edwards University where he serves as a member of the Advisory Council.
“Larry is a great gift to the cause of full employment in America and it’s an honor to give him this award,” Courtney added “He has created a Texas-sized legacy for all those who have known him over the years and for the millions who’ve benefitted from what he and his teams have accomplished.”
Mr. Temple’s commitment to helping Texas maintain a competitive workforce has helped TWC work toward its mission to promote and support an effective workforce system that offers employers, individuals and communities the opportunity to achieve and sustain economic prosperity.
Please join us in congratulating Mr. Temple on this great honor, and for being a dedicated advocate for Texas’ workforce.
Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent in October, down from 3.8 percent in September 2018, reaching its lowest level since the state unemployment data series began in January 1976. The Texas economy added 32,300 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in October. Annual employment growth for Texas was 3.1 percent in October, marking 102 consecutive months of annual growth.
“The Texas economy continues to remain strong by adding 32,300 jobs in the month of October. These numbers highlight the strategic job creation efforts of our Texas employers, and provides our world-class workforce with career options in a variety of growing industries,” said TWC Chair and Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “Texas is a state that always welcomes new employers and also supports our homegrown businesses, offering them the tools they need to succeed and build on our continued success as a global economic leader.”
October’s annual growth in the state’s Goods Producing industries was strong at 6.6 percent. Over the month, Mining and Logging added 4,300 jobs, followed by the Construction industry with 1,500 positions.
In Texas’ Service Providing sector, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 8,900 positions over the month, and led all industries in job growth for October. Also within this sector, Leisure and Hospitality added 8,700 jobs, followed by Education and Health Services which added 5,100.
“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. “The jobs are out there, and I encourage all job seekers to contact their local Workforce Solutions office for assistance with job training and placement.”
The 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 and the Odessa MSA which had the second lowest with a rate of 2.5 percent. The Austin-Round Rock, College Station- Bryan and Lubbock MSAs recorded the third lowest rate of 2.7 percent for October.
“Texas’ dynamic marketplace has set the standard as the Best State for Business over 14 consecutive years according to CEOs,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Robert D. Thomas. “That track record of accomplishment recognizes the perseverance, resilience and hard work of our workforce, employers and collaborative partners across the state.”
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 October Texas Labor Market release, please visit the TWC website.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) this week announced a statewide career exploration campaign and website called “Jobs Y’all: Your Career. Your Story.” The campaign is designed to inspire young Texans to discover and explore the state’s in-demand industries and learn about skills needed to enter the workforce.
The Jobs Y’all campaign originated as a need to create greater awareness of the link between jobs and education, as identified by Tri-Agency partners TWC, Texas Education Agency and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Then, with participation from employers, industry association representatives, workforce developers, and other stakeholders, a priority recommendation was to raise awareness of fast-growing industry sectors, as well as how to address the skills gap.
“We listened to employers who requested support in reaching our future workforce with an inspirational campaign to inform and inspire them about in-demand occupations and how to prepare for these exciting careers,” said TWC Chair Ruth R. Hughs. “The goal of the Jobs Y’all career exploration campaign is to raise awareness about the strength of Texas industries and inspire and attract students in order to bolster future job creation and remain economically competitive in the 21st century.”
For the program, TWC chose a fun, memorable name grounded in Texas roots and the concept of taking charge of one’s future: “Jobs Y’all: Your Career. Your Story.” This message resonated with young adults who feel a sense of state pride, are accustomed to viewing and sharing stories online, and who want to feel in control of their lives.
The website will introduce users to eight industries, a career explorer app, and online resources:
Featured industries: Aerospace and Defense; Advanced Technology and Manufacturing; Biotechnology, Life Sciences and Healthcare; Construction; Energy; Information & Computer Technology; Petroleum Refining & Chemical Products; and Transportation & Logistics.
Career Explorer: Search by industry, occupation and geography to learn about job projections and average wages.
“Texans have options when it comes to preparing for 21st century careers,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “There are a range of education and training pathways that lead to high-growth, high-wage opportunities. Jobs Y’all will emphasize that young adults can make informed choices about whether to pursue a high school diploma, industry recognized certification, or a degree from a post-secondary institution.”
The campaign launches with a website and public service announcement. A series of industry videos and success stories featuring young professionals will roll out in coming weeks.
“Our teachers, counselors, parents and mentors are incredibly influential in informing and supporting our students as they consider career paths and the wide variety of job opportunities in our world-class industries across Texas, and Jobsyall.com is a great place to start that exploration,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Robert D. Thomas. “We look forward to our students discovering the vast opportunities here in Texas, as they are the future talent of our industries and future leaders of our state. We want them to make their career start here in Texas.”