Getting On the Job Training through the Texas Internship Challenge

P1070682.JPGWith summer quickly approaching, many students are seeking internships as a way to gain effective job experience before applying for a full time job after graduation.

Many of our state’s largest companies already recognize the value of having an internship program. Internships meet the needs of both the student intern and the employer by establishing a rewarding opportunity for interns to learn job skills in a real-world setting. Employers gain potential full-time employees that can be recruited directly from qualified interns, as well as exposure for their company and their industry’s in-demand occupations.

To highlight the need to increase these opportunities for high school and college students, and to encourage large and small employers to offer internships, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) joined forces to establish the Texas Internship Challenge, a statewide campaign to increase and promote paid internships for students in Texas.

This week, commissioners were joined by executives from Lockheed Martin, Accenture, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas and Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance, among other industry and education leaders to unveil, a website where employers can post positions and students can apply for them.

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

Learn more about upcoming internship opportunities or how to post an internship to the Texas Internship Challenge website by visiting

TWC Hosts Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities Business Forum


By Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs

disability forum pic.jpgOn Wednesday, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) partnered with the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD), Workforce Solutions Capital Area, Austin Human Resource Management Association and the Society for Human Resource Management, to provide a free Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities Business Forum for Texas employers. This forum hosted employers from around the state, and provided presentations on best practices on hiring people with disabilities, workforce development strategies, and assistive technology tools
and accommodations.

We recognize Texas has a large, educated workforce and this includes individuals with disabilities. Hiring people with disabilities isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for business. If a business employs workers from this talented pool and makes its facilities accessible, it will attract a vital customer base.  This can lead companies to make business practices more efficient and effective, resulting in an overall improvement of the work group.jpgenvironment.

America’s diverse workforce is growing at a rapid rate, and we want to continue to provide the tools and resources to succeed, and hire the best talent available. Some of our state’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion and diversity a priority in their workplace. They know that inclusion works- for workers, for employers, and for opportunity.
This forum is part of the Texas HireAbility Campaign, which helps raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and highlights the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce.

tech tools.JPGRuth R. Hughs is the Commissioner Representing Employers of the Texas Workforce Commission. As the Commissioner Representing Employers, Commissioner Hughs serves as an advocate for the 500,000 Texas employers and her office provides a variety of resources including training and assistance with workplace hiring, managing and recruiting matters.

Housing Consumers: Know Your Fair Housing Rights

The Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division (CRD) works to stop housing discrimination in the state by educating the public and by enforcing fair housing laws.

CRD recently released several informational videos to help housing consumers understand what housing discrimination is, what to expect if a fair housing complaint is filed and the mediation process.

The Fair Housing Act says housing providers cannot treat housing consumers differently because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, or disability. To learn more about what housing discrimination is and how to file a complaint, please review the video below.

The best way to promptly resolve a discrimination complaint is through mediation. If the parties cannot agree to mutual terms to settle the complaint, the complaint will be investigated. To learn more about CRD’s mediation process, please review the video below.

In collaboration with Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, CRD will present free fair housing presentations as part of Fair Housing Month in April. For more information on fair housing, go to the CRD page on the Texas Workforce Commission website.

TXHireAbility Promotes Employment of Texans with Disabilities

This October, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and Workforce Solutions board partners collaborated to launch the Texas HireAbility campaign. The campaign’s goals are to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and connect Texas employers with job seekers with disabilities.

The timing of the campaign’s launch is no coincidence. Since 1945, October has been a time for our nation to celebrate the contributions of Americans with disabilities in the workforce and raise awareness about disability employment issues. Texas celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month, and National White Cane Safety Day.

marchers in austin white cane safety day.jpg


“We are proud to kick off the Texas HireAbility campaign to connect the significant skills and abilities of people with disabilities with opportunities created by Texas employers,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Through this campaign, employers will better connect to these valuable workers to meet their workforce needs.”

Currently, 35 percent of Texans with disabilities ages 16 to 64 are employed in the Lone Star State. TWC and its Texas HireAbility partners are working to increase that number.

Job fairs and educational events were held by Workforce Solutions and Vocational Rehabilitation Services offices statewide throughout October. These events helped employers learn more about recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities and provided opportunities for employers to accept résumés, applications and conduct interviews with promising job seekers.

White Cane Safety Day and other events also were held to highlight the independence, contributions and achievements of people with disabilities in Texas.

“Employers are always looking for innovative ways to expand their businesses by hiring skilled workers,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “Through the Texas HireAbility campaign, employers will have access to additional resources to help them connect with this segment of the workforce.”

These resources are available to employers, workforce organizations and others on the campaign webpage ( The webpage includes a Texas HireAbility fact sheet, links to Texas HireAbility public service announcements featuring Research Compliance Officer and 2008 Miss Wheelchair Texas Michelle Covard, and the webinar How Creating a Culture of Accessibility Positively Impacts Business.

“Employers move to Texas because of our strong and diverse workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “I encourage all Texans to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and to support Texas’ commitment to workforce diversity.”

For information visit:

Statewide October Event Highlights

El Paso / UTEP Ability Awareness Week:
Workforce Solutions staff participated in weeklong activities focusing on serving people with disabilities and creating awareness for employers, students and the community.

Wichita Falls / Transition Fair:
Workforce Solutions staff held an annual job fair for area high school students with disabilities. Representatives from businesses, post-secondary schools and the military spoke to students about their education and career choices after high school graduation.

Harlingen / Employer and Rehabilitation Network (EARN) Forum:
Businesses participated in the EARN Forum, which promotes workforce diversity. Discussion topics included TWC’s Skills Development Fund grants, employment discrimination, employing individuals with disabilities, and recruiting and hiring youth.

Austin AHEAD (Alliance Helping Employers Achieve Diversity) Job Fair:
More than 100 job candidates, including veterans and students attended the event. Participating employers included eBay, the Texas General Land Office, and PLAN of Central Texas, Inc. (PLANCTX). Positions were available in technical, management, accounting, administration, social services and other industry sectors.

“AHEAD is a great opportunity for employers and job seekers to connect with their peers,” said PLANCTX representative Anna Lisa Conlin.

“We were looking for specific and targeted employees, and AHEAD featured job seekers who were prepared with their resumes, ready to talk about the exact kind of jobs they’re looking for. AHEAD is a great opportunity for employers and job seekers to connect with their peers.”


Top 10 Things You Will Learn from Attending a Texas Business Conference

By Ruth R. Hughs, Commissioner Representing Employers, Texas Workforce Commission

Are you an employer, human resource professional, business owner or manager? Do you have any legal questions associated with employing workers? The Texas Business Conference provides employers with practical, up-to-date information for operating a successful business and techniques to more effectively manage employees. Participants also receive the latest edition of the popular publication, Especially for Texas Employers, which addresses basic legal issues regarding hiring, post-employment, and work separation policies.

Listed below are the top 10 subjects you will learn about at our Texas Business Conference:

  1. What you should and shouldn’t ask applicants before hiring them
  2. The essential documents to get new hires to fill out or sign before they do any work
  3. The critical differences between employees and independent contractors
  4. The most important employee policies that any employer needs to have
  5. The worst personnel policies and procedures that every employer must avoid to minimize the risk of claims and lawsuits
  6. How to deal with employee injury claims and getting injured employees back to work as soon as possible
  7. Which employees can be exempt from overtime pay
  8. Which deductions are legal to make from employees’ pay
  9. How to effectively defend the company if an unemployment claim is filed
  10. How to get straight, honest, and confidential help from TWC – at no cost – if you are concerned about an employment problem

TBC CRE The Woodlands 2016.jpgIn addition, the Society for Human Resource Management Texas State Council (Texas SHRM) is offering professional development and Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) recertification credits for human resources professionals attending the conferences. Certificates for the Texas SHRM Professional Development Credits will be handed out to those attending the Texas Business Conference. In addition, certified public accountants who attend can earn continuing education credit hours and other conference participants may qualify for general professional credit.

Our next conference will be on January 20th in Houston, TX. Texas Business Conferences occur several times a year at locations throughout the state. For a complete list of dates and locations, visit the Texas Business Conference webpage at

Texas Adds 20,900 Jobs in November

The latest Employment report shows that Texas has added an estimated 210,800 seasonally adjusted jobs over the past year with the addition of 20,900 nonfarm jobs in November. The state has added jobs in 19 of the past 20 months.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.6 percent in November, down slightly from 4.7 percent in October.

The Leisure and Hospitality industry recorded the largest private-industry employment gain over the month with 5,700 jobs added. Education and Health Services employment grew by 4,700 jobs in November, and Construction employment expanded by 2,500 jobs.

The Amarillo, Lubbock and Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) recorded the month’s lowest unemployment rate among Texas MSAs with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 3.0 percent, followed by the College Station-Bryan MSA with a rate of 3.2 for November.

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Stories of Success – Skills for Small Business

business-woman-83250393The Skills for Small Business program provides businesses of fewer than 100 employees with state-funded training with an emphasis on training new workers or upgrading the skills of incumbent workers.

Small businesses interested in training for their employees may be eligible for up to $1,800 in training for each new worker and $900 for each existing worker for classes offered at their local community and technical college. Below are several success stories from small businesses across Texas that have utilized Skills for Small Business grants to improve the skills of their employees and build a stronger workforce throughout the state.

Concho Valley Radiators Service – San Angelo, TX

  • Concho Valley Radiator Service specializes in designing and replacing industrial radiators across the country. Through a partnership with Howard College, training was provided for employees with a focus on welding and office skills. This training allowed employees to gain additional work-related skills and the courses were taught by local instructors. “This was an excellent way for a small business to receive training without employees taking a lot of time off,” said Carolyn Henry, Human Resources Representative with Concho Valley Radiators Service. “Classes can be expensive, yet, with the Skills for Small Business grant we are able to train our employees.”

Electronic Assemblies – Wharton, TX

  • Electronic Assemblies, a small business in Wharton recently partnered with Wharton County Junior College (WCJC) to assist in the training of some of their employees. Electronic Assemblies recently promoted two employees to management roles and wanted them to attend the Leadership Workshop at WCJC that works to upgrade the skills of local employees that have been placed in new roles of leadership or management. Each participant received $720 worth of training that was fully paid for by the Skills for Small Business grant. They were so pleased with the experience and the financial assistance that they sent an additional employee to an online training to help increase his skills in accounting, fully paid for through a grant.

Polk County Publishing Company – Livingston, TX

  • Polk County Publishing Company, a small publishing company in Livingston that specializes in printing and graphic design recently partnered with Angelina College to advance the job skills for their employees. “In small business today, it is a struggle to provide benefits and opportunities to employees,” said Kelli Barnes, Manager, Polk County Publishing Company. “When I first heard about the Skills for Small Business grant, I was immediately interested for two reasons. First, having the opportunity to offer a benefit that is not an extra cost to employees or our company is great. Second, I am a strong believer in improving skills.”

Small businesses are encouraged to apply directly to TWC for training approval. Employers seeking more information about the Skills for Small Business program, including applications and information about how to apply may visit the TWC website at

Texas Economy Adds 21,400 Jobs in August

The latest Employment report shows that Texas added an estimated 190,600 seasonally adjusted jobs over the past year. Texas’ total nonfarm seasonally adjusted employment increased by 21,400 jobs in August’s preliminary estimate. The state has added jobs in 16 of the last 17 months.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 4.7 percent in August, up slightly from 4.6 percent in July, and remained below the national rate of 4.9 percent.

The Financial Activities industry recorded the largest industry employment gain over the month with 6,200 jobs added. Trade, Transportation and Utilities employment added 4,000 jobs in August. Construction employment expanded for the second consecutive month with the addition of 1,300 jobs.

The Amarillo Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) recorded the lowest unemployment rate for August with a 3.4 percent rate for the month. The Austin-Round Rock MSA had the second-lowest rate at 3.5 percent followed by the Lubbock MSA with a rate of 3.8 percent.

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The Best Advice I Ever…

You know how sometimes things cause you to look back on what you’ve done in the past? I’ve been having one of those moments lately, for some reason thinking about the best advice I ever got (or gave) about looking for a job. I’ve lots to ponder.

And because I know some really good people who make their living helping employers and job seekers connect, I decided to expand my retrospective party and ask them the same question. This goes out to the good people in the public workforce system who give of themselves to help others define, find, and achieve their career goals: thanks for all you do.

Their thoughts and input is below. I hope you find some of it helpful. Thank you for reading and best of luck in your search.

  • Always be honest.
  • Put your feelers (network) – and don’t be afraid to let people know you’re looking.
  • There is no one best way to look for a job, but there are several good
  • Confidence is the key to a successful job search and interview. Many times I worked with job seekers that came across a job they wanted but ended up not applying for it because they rule themselves out. When I asked some of them why, as they begin to explain I could tell that their issue was a lack the confidence. They didn’t believe they could get the job.
  • It’s all about relationships/who you know and building your network- that’s not just for seasoned professionals, but for anyone at any point in their career. So many jobs never even make it to the posting stage, and for those that do, many job descriptions are either poorly written or are inaccurate. Knowing someone within an organization that can call your attention to these types of things, including advice as to whether the job would, or would not, be a good fit, is invaluable. Sometimes you just need a job, but many times (especially as you progress in your career) it’s about finding the right job.
  • Persistence and diligence – if you stay at it long enough, stay positive, and position yourself for success, good things tend to happen.
  • Keep at it, it’s a numbers game. For every 100 jobs you apply for, you’ll get at least 1 interview per month. Up the odds by applying for more positions. In other words, treat the job search as if it were a job.
  • The interview begins with the first interaction you have with the company. You need to demonstrate good communication, customer service, and decision-making skills as well as initiative every time you encounter anyone at the company. You can be sure that if you treated someone poorly or acted inappropriately to the receptionist or even when you were a customer not looking for work, word will likely reach the hiring authority.
  • Be the most informed job seeker you can be. Learn about the types of jobs you want, what they do, what skills are required and what skills are desired, what the job market looks like for those skills and jobs, what they pay, who hires those jobs, etc. It takes time but the more informed you are up front, the more you’ll be able to control your destiny.

A Good Lesson

Most people know Mike Rowe. Even if his name doesn’t ring a bell, say the “dirty jobs guy” and everyone knows who you’re talking about.

Mike is a very interesting guy. Reality TV show host, son to working-class parents, a former opera singer, and champion of the cause of teaching kids that good jobs don’t only come to you by way of a 4 year college degree.

But his mention here is not to talk about him. Rather it’s to let him, in his own words, tell the story of his chance encounter with an average employee at an average business and the simple but powerful lesson that came from that. Enjoy.

I left my hotel room this morning to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, and saw part of a man standing in the hallway. His feet were on a ladder. The rest of him was somewhere in the ceiling.

I introduced myself and asked what he doing. Along with satisfying my natural curiosity, it seemed a good way to delay my appointment with gravity, which I was in no hurry to keep. His name is Corey Mundle, and like many who work in tight spaces, he recognized me and we quickly got to talking.

“Well Mike, here’s the problem,” he said. “My pipe has a crack in it, and now my hot water is leaking into my laundry room. I’ve got to turn off my water, replace my old pipe, and get my new one installed before my customers notice there’s a problem.”

I asked if he needed a hand and he told me the job wasn’t dirty enough. We laughed, and Corey asked if he could have a quick photo. I said sure, assuming he’d return the favor. He asked why I wanted a photo of him, and I said it was because I liked his choice of pronouns.

“I like the way you talk about your work,” I said. “It’s not, ‘the’ hot water, it’s ‘MY’ hot water. It’s not, ‘the’ laundry room, it’s ‘MY’ laundry room. It’s not ‘a’ new pipe, it’s ‘MY’ new pipe. Most people don’t talk like that about their work. Most people don’t own it.”

Corey shrugged and said, “This is not ‘a’ job; this is ‘MY’ job. I’m glad to have it, and I take pride in everything I do.”

Personal responsibility…there is no substitute.

Thanks, Mike; for noticing small things that make all the difference but too often go unnoticed. And thanks, Corey; for owning it.