Military veterans and their spouses have an array of options to bolster their transition into civilian life. But as U.S. Army Veteran David Beadle and many others have discovered, Texas goes one step further in its commitment to honoring our nation’s heroes, by offering a program to provide a seamless transition to employment.
David is one of more than 1.5 million veterans estimated to call Texas home. In response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s charge to identify gaps in services to veterans, Texas Operation Welcome Home (TOWH) was created to assist and provide training opportunities to recently separated service members preparing for employment in high-growth, high-demand occupations.
The goal of the program is to provide a clear pathway for veterans such as David, as they move into civilian employment in the Lone Star State, by eliminating obstacles to attaining licensing, certification, accreditation and degree awards, so that veterans transition quickly into the workforce.
David, meanwhile, is a testimony that clear pathways help. David served as a combat medic for five years in the Army.
He said when he left the service in 2003, as a Specialist (E-4), he wasn’t sure what path to follow as a civilian as he settled in the Austin area.
“I attended college through the years, but I spent the majority of that time working and kind of building my own career,” he said. “I looked for a career change and in doing that I realized I wanted to add more marketable skills.”
David said the difference at school this time was that he tapped into the veterans’ network at the university, which helped him map out a clear plan to earn his degree.
“Through the OWLS program I was able to take the military experience that I had and transfer that over into college credit. Unlike other universities, the credits that they transferred from the military were actually applicable to my degree plan,” David said.
David credits the support of the TWC-backed veterans program, and his peers, for expediting his transition.
“I was lucky enough to find a few other veterans in the program who helped remind me that I wasn’t the only one managing school and life,” he said. “That social element was a key component in completing my degree.”
In 2017, David graduated from Texas State with a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree, with a focus on Business and Sociology. He stayed on at the university to pursue a Master’s degree in Communication Studies.
David now helps fellow veterans and Bobcats navigate the challenges of academic work as a Communications Graduate Instructional Assistant at Texas State. He encourages veterans to take advantage of programs such as TOWH to expedite their career goals, and offered some advice based on his experiences.
“The best advice I can give veterans on the same path is to talk to people,” David said. “Ask for help. Keep moving forward towards a goal and don’t stop chipping away at it — it will happen!”
To learn more about resources available just for veterans in Texas, as well as training and employment opportunities statewide, please visit the Texas Operation Welcome Home website.
“I don’t know how to two-step, but what I do know how to do is work together, and you know when you two step you have a partner. And so, it’s no good for me to just be the left leg if I don’t include the right leg. And so, what we are doing here, when we do the two step, we’re in unison, we’re working together.”
When a state agency and its program officers from Austin take the time to travel to rural areas across South Texas and listen to locals, communities, employers, individuals and stakeholders, the agency benefits with greater understanding, deeper insights and more valuable perspectives about the people it serves.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is more accessible than most people may realize. Through more than 200 Workforce Centers and satellite offices across the state of Texas, and 130 Vocational Rehabilitation field offices, TWC connects job seekers and employers with workforce development services and training — but TWC wanted to hear directly from multiple stakeholders: Local workforce boards, employers, economic development corporations, independent school districts superintendents, trainers, counselors, non-profits, chambers, elected officials and constituents. That’s why TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez and TWC staff representing several TWC programs embarked on a South Texas listening tour, April 9-13, 2018.
Where Did We Go?
The group visited six specific Workforce Board regions: Lower Rio, South Texas, Cameron County,Coastal Bend, Alamo and Capital Area Workforce Development Areas taking along staff from TWC’s Skills Development Fund; Vocational Rehabilitation program; Apprenticeship program; and Adult Education and Literacy program. City stops included Brownsville, Laredo, Corpus Christi, San Diego, San Antonio/Hondo and Austin.
Why Did We Go?
Listen and learn from rural communities. Allow stakeholders to tell their stories, share their struggles and their successes.
Build strong relationships with rural communities and determine how to work together as a team with workforce development and training services in mind.
Educate on our workforce and training program staff, generate new interest from individuals we might not normally hear from, and bring better services.
Exit with takeaways to use as next action items.
“The primary goal of our tour was to help people feel heard, educate them on our workforce and training programs, generate new interest from individuals we wouldn’t normally hear from, bringing better services to local communities,” Commissioner Alvarez stated. “Having a transparent and informative conversation is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your program.”
Commissioner Alvarez explained that many Texans cannot afford to make it to Austin to discuss their workforce development experience and needs, and that others may simply be unaware of what TWC services are available.
Since TWC staff fielded so many questions about essential programs, we asked the staff to offer an overview of major TWC programs:
1. The Skills Development Fund is Texas’ premier job-training program providing local customized training opportunities for Texas businesses and workers to increase skill levels and wages of the Texas workforce. The Texas Workforce Commission administers funding for the program. Success is achieved through collaboration among businesses, public community and technical colleges, Workforce Development Boards and economic development partners.
2. Adult Education and Literacy providers are organizations with instructors delivering English language, math, reading, writing and workforce training instruction to help adult students acquire the skills needed to succeed in the workforce, earn a high school equivalency, and enter and succeed in college or workforce training. TWC contracts with a wide variety of organizations to provide AEL instruction and promote an increased opportunity for adult learners to transition to post-secondary education, training or employment.
3. The Vocational Rehabilitation program helps people with disabilities prepare for, find or retain employment and helps youth and students prepare for post-secondary opportunities. The program also helps businesses and employers recruit, retain and accommodate employees with disabilities. The program serves adults with disabilities; youth and students with disabilities and businesses and employers.
4. Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced journey workers with related classroom instruction. Most registered apprenticeship training programs last from three to five years as determined by industry standards.
While there were multiple questions asked at the Texas Southmost College, one major realization realized from the overall discussion is the severity of the skilled trades “skills gap” in the area and the need to continue the development of technical and skilled trades programs at both the high school and college levels to close those gaps as soon as possible.
This conversation was followed by attendees of the Labor Boot Tour learning directly about customized training through our Skills Development and Apprenticeship teams discussing TWC programs.
Commissioner Alvarez noted that worker training is the key as the Rio Grande Valley transforms from an agricultural economy to an advance manufacturing, aerospace, maritime and LNG economy.
Invited stakeholders included Career & Technical educators, college tech-ed officials, Economic Development Corporaitons, and the Port of Brownsville–all of whom gave brief presentations of what they are working on, and the need for continued TWC funding assistance to be successful–particularly increased JET funding for the next biennium.
An overall realization demonstrated was the severity of the skilled trades “skills gap” in the area and the need to continue the development of technical and skilled trades programs at both the high school and college levels to close those gaps as soon as possible.
“All-in-all, [today] was enlightening to a large and varied audience, and the resulting sense of urgency to continue building CTE capacity in our schools and colleges was an overriding outcome. We sincerely thank Commissioner Alvarez and his staff for their dedication and availability, and appreciate their passion for what they do for the great State of Texas.”
In Mission, Texas, the Two Step Tour participants were hosted by Workforce Solutions-Lower Rio Grande, and began with an in-depth tour of Royal Technologies, an advanced engineering and manufacturing company that services diverse industries.
Highlights of the tour included viewing how automation and robotics are used by companies such as Royal Technologies, to create labor costs efficiencies, and how a manufacturing company serves both automobile and technology markets in North America and Mexico.
The tour was followed by a stakeholder meeting at South Texas College Technology Campus in McAllen, for the larger group Q&A discussion where Commissioner Alvarez, and TWC key staff from Austin, provided stakeholders pertinent information about programs and services available to the region.
TWC staff engaged in one-on-one discussions with stakeholders representing economic development corporations, business, education and community based organizations.
Mission’s Key Economic Development Drivers:
Maximizing and leveraging partnerships and information to better serve individuals with disabilities.
Development of innovative partnerships and programs through apprenticeship programs: TWC’s Desi Holmes answered various questions regarding apprenticeship programs and shared best practices (as seen across the state) in efforts to create programs that enables individuals to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and skills.
Overall, creating responsive programs to meet the needs of business.
“The Texas Workforce Commission Texas Two Step Listening Tour hosted by Workforce Solutions-Lower Rio was an enormous success and beneficial to our community stakeholders. Perhaps the most notable experience for the attendees was that TWC key staff and subject matter experts were so readily available to respond immediately to stakeholder questions and offer additional resources and information to pursue programs, services and grant awards available through TWC. The real-time technical assistance was invaluable for those in attendance. TWCs responsiveness and availability equips our stakeholders to develop responsive solutions.”
— Arcelia Sanchez, Business Representative, WFS Lower Rio
The Boot Tour team visited Workforce Solutions Alamo on day four and hosted a listening session and invitation for questions.
San Antonio’s Important Topics:
Dr. Bruce Leslie, Chancellor, Alamo Colleges – provided an overview of Alamo INSTITUTES which consist of six categories: Creative & Communication Arts; Business & Entrepreneurship; Health & Biosciences; Advanced Manufacturing & Logistics; Public Service; and Science & Technology.
Pooja Tripathi, Project Coordinator – Workforce Services, Bexar County Economic Development Department and Mary Batch, Assistant Manager, Human Resource Development (HRD), Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, Inc. – provided an overview of TXFAME.
David J. Zammiello, Executive Director Project Quest – provided an organizational overview. The mission of Project QUEST is to strengthen the economy by providing expert support and resources to develop a pipeline of highly qualified employees for in-demand occupations that offer a living wage, benefits and a career path.
Ryan Lugalia-Hollan, Executive Director P16 Plus – Mission statement is to ensure that all young people in Bexar County are ready for the future. Programs designed to help youth understand and master the concepts and challenges of basic personal finance investments in programs to build a pipeline of STEM-capable students.
Steve Hussain, Chief Mission Officer, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio – Good Careers Academy – Goodwill San Antonio’s goal is to provide an educated workforce empowered to reach their career and life goals and achieve self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. Particularly focus on empowering individuals who face barriers in gaining employment by providing education, training, career services and robust service coordination.
Juan Antonio Flores, Executive Vice President, Governmental Relations, Port San Antonio –provided an overview. Home to over 70 tenant customers who directly employ about 12,000 fellow citizens.
David Meadows, City of San Antonio Economic Development Department (EDD) – provided an overview. Development of Workforce Development Division. EDD has funded workforce agencies for many years but only started developing policy around workforce development over the last couple of years.
The second portion of the tour took place at Accenture Federal Services (AFS). Ali Bokhari, AFS Delivery Network Director, Accenture Federal Services, provided an overview and tour of the facility. Romanita Mata-Barrera, SA Works, was able to join the group and partake in the discussion.
Accenture’s Important Topics:
Vocational Rehabilitation – discussion regarding the partnership Accenture Federal Services has developed with Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation San Antonio location regarding the employment of people with disabilities. This is an ongoing partnership with not only TWC Vocational Rehabilitation staff but also WSA staff.
On-the-Job-Training – discussion regarding how AFS and WSA are collaborating in providing OJT noting obstacles that have been encountered.
Apprenticeship – AFS provided a review of their in-house apprenticeship program.
This portion of the tour brought the team back to the Board Office.
Carolyn King, Director Grants and Clinical Education Operations, Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio provided an overview of the various initiatives Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio has utilized focusing on TWC grant funding. Mark Milton, Senior Director of Workforce Operations, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio – Good Careers Academy was also in attendance.
Some of the Items Discussed:
Retention opportunities utilizing Goodwill, Project Quest as well as Alamo Colleges.
Interview Skills, helping students determine the best fit. Interviewing with numerous departments at the same time. This has been successful for not only the students but the respective supervisors.
Mark Milton, Senior Director of Workforce Operations, Goodwill Industries of San Antonio – Good Careers Academy provided the tour. Steve Hussain, Chief Mission Officer welcomed the team to Good Careers Academy.
Some of the items highlighted were the classroom, as that particular Good Careers Academy hosts students from Fox Tech High School.
Hondo Mayor James Danner, and Jesse M. Perez, of the City of Hondo, Economic Development Department, provided an overview of workforce initiatives in Hondo/Medina County.
Hondo Key Economic Development Drivers:
In 2013 the City of Hondo initiated discussions with Goodwill Good Careers Academy to bring CNA course and other technical courses to the STRTC. And agreement with Hondo High School and Goodwill was created to offer CNA to Hondo High School Seniors.
In 2014 Concordia University began offering a Master’s Degree for teachers and BS Degree for Teachers’ Aides seeking to become teachers.
In 2016 the City of Hondo Economic Development Corporation (COHEDC) approved $285,000 to renovate 5,000 sq. ft. of vacant space into an allied health training suite and create two additional multi-purpose classrooms.
In 2016, the City of Hondo and COHEDC submitted a request to the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) for a $960,000 grant with a $240,000 local match to build an annex for vocational/technical courses. EDA approved the grant request and are in the process of making arrangements to build the annex.
In January 2016 WSA leased space to provide workforce development services in Medina County at STRTC.
In 2017, together with WSA and Southern Career Institute (SCI) CNA courses were offered to adults. SCI provides the instruction. WSA provides funding for qualified adults.
The final day of the Boot Tour culminated in a listening session with Workforce Solutions Capital Area staff and local stakeholders.
Learnings & Takeaways
“Commissioner Alvarez: Having traveled through several regions and multiple cities on tour, what did you learn? What seemed significant? Were there any major takeaways for you?”
“Those are good questions. TWC went on tour to listen and learn from rural communities. This was an opportunity to allow stakeholders to tell their stories, share their struggles and their successes. I think what really stood out about the tour for me is how much our services here at TWC have had such an impact on so many lives, communities and the economy. For example, I knew TWC makes a difference and that TWC-TWS workforce and development training programs and services have the ability to change lives, but it’s different seeing that in person. I knew our grants really trained people but it’s different seeing it up close and personal. That really hit home for me having had the opportunity to tour and witness first-hand a high school with 400 students on the receiving end of a JET grant. It was very powerful. And the students were equally as enthusiastic about sharing how it has changed their lives.
These students are experiencing the newest and latest welding methods due to one grant with the end result being that industry are hiring many of them right out of high school. And that’s success, right there. That’s a significant takeaway. And sometimes the results speak for themselves.
A secondary purpose for the tour was to build strong relationships with rural communities and determine how to work together going forward as a team with workforce development and training services in mind. On that note, I feel the tour was successful in that we successfully brought Austin to communities that can’t afford to travel to Austin to meet with our agency directly. Many who attended these stakeholder meetings and discussions were employees of non-profits while others ran agencies with limited resources.
Finally, I’m glad to be part of such a great agency and work alongside individuals who truly care about what they do and the people they serve. Another purpose for the tour was for us to educate on our workforce and training programs, generate new interest from individuals we might not normally hear from, and bring better services. This tour allowed me a second opportunity to to experience how professional and knowledgeable our TWC staff actually are, how passionate they are about their programs and educating others, and how much they want to help others which is the essence of bringing better services.
I’m glad for some actions items and takeaways. And finally, I’m glad to be part of such a great agency.”
Additional Takeaways and Future Action Items:
Takeaway 1 – Target “Skills Gap”: The severity of the skilled trades “skills gap” demonstrates a strong need to continue the development of technical and skilled trades programs at both the high school and college levels to close gaps as soon as possible. Several communities spoke of the sense of urgency to continue building Career Technical Education (CTE) capacity in schools and colleges. TWC should also address how to help colleges work better with one another to build capacity and provide training for each other.
Takeaway 2 – More TWC Outreach: Multiple individuals and communities are unfamiliar with TWC programs and there exists a strong need for greater awareness. TWC needs to better educate what TWC programs can offer. This tour demonstrated the fact that certain folks do not know what an Adult Education Literacy program entails, or how Skills Fund works, or who the Vocational Rehabilitation program touches or affects — or how apprenticeship programs can change young lives. (If people were truly surprised to learn that we provide workforce training in addition to basic education and English, TWC realizes there are many other services delivered that individuals are not aware of or familiar with so greater education and more awareness is needed.)
Takeaway 3 – Expand VR Awareness: There is a need for greater discussion regarding the partnerships developed with Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation regarding the employment of people with disabilities. This is an ongoing partnership with not only TWC Vocational Rehabilitation staff but also WSA staff in certain regions. Maximizing and leveraging partnerships and information to better serve individuals with disabilities is essential.
Takeaway 4 – Share Apprenticeship Best Practices:TWC heard of a greater need for development of innovative partnerships and programs through apprenticeship programs. There is a need for further discussion on shared best practices (as seen across the state) in efforts to create programs that enables individuals to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and skills.
Takeaway 5 – Be Responsive to Local Business Needs: TWC heard throughout the tour of the need to continuously create responsive programs to meet the needs of business areas visited – there is a realization that each region and city have their successes and their own needs. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach. TWC needs to take time to determine local needs.
Takeaway 6 – Reduce Confusion Over VR Services: Because of the vast array of services offered by TWC (with each of these individual programs taken on tour), TWC is a full-service program for job seekers and employers. Certain questions asked to full audiences came from local Work Force Solutions staff wanting to understand the services provided by the boards and how to access them for VR customers. It demonstrates a need to educate at all levels on the full reach of TWC, boards, and their contractors. More education and awareness for VR programs is also needed. The other TWC programs are provided through grants to boards, schools, training centers etc. VR services are provided directly to the individual with a disability. There is sometimes confusion over how VR services differentiate from other TWC services.
Takeaway 7 – Continue Visits with Local Stakeholders:Having traveled through six regions with TWC’s programs, TWC now has a better understanding that the true worth of the work TWC does and the programs managed that can only be fully appreciated when one is able to see the results and the impact our services our work has on the lives of people and businesses across the state. TWC program managers must engage in field trips in the future to better understand the impact of the programs TWC manages across the state.
Takeaway 8 – Expand Outreach about Skills Development Fund: Each day of the tour TWC was asked about the Skills Fund Program. All areas and regions indicated a strong interest in the Skills Development Fund. TWC was able to discuss how it feels it has made a commitment to developing strong relationships at the local level by locating a Regional Staff person in the area. Unfortunately, TWC learned that many businesses and other partners often do not know that this person is there and that the person is a member of the state office team assigned to assist them in benefiting specifically from the programs and services TWC provides.
More Photos from the Tour
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Chevron Phillips Chemical Company (Chevron Phillips Chemical) was named the Employer of the Year at the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) 19th Annual Texas Workforce Conference held Nov. 18-20 in Dallas. Chevron Phillips Chemical was nominated by the Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast and chosen as the Employer of the Year from among five exemplary finalists, and out of 26 private-sector employers. All nominees were recognized for contributions to their community’s workforce through innovation and collaboration their local Workforce Solutions network partner.
Headquartered in The Woodlands, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP (Chevron Phillips Chemical) has eight manufacturing facilities and one research and technology center in Texas. Chevron Phillips Chemical is building its $6 billion U.S. Gulf Coast Petrochemicals Project, which will support 10,000 temporary construction and engineering jobs and 400 long-term jobs in Baytown and Old Ocean.
“Through its innovative partnership with local schools and Workforce Solutions, the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company’s powerful, local approach to workforce development supports a highly skilled workforce while creating jobs for their region,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “I commend Chevron Phillips Chemical for its leadership and contributions to the Texas economy. I extend my sincere congratulations.”
In response to workforce demands spurred by expansion, Chevron Phillips Chemical has made tremendous contributions to workforce development through scholarships, mentorships and internships offered to students of Lee College. The company donated $75,000 to Lee College in Baytown to begin a workforce development scholarship program for students pursuing a two-year degree in Process Technology, Instrumentation Technology or Electrical Technology. The program recently extended to additional community colleges and dual-credit enrolled high school students in East Harris, Chambers, Liberty, Brazoria and Jefferson counties.
“I congratulate Chevron Phillips Chemical for their approach to workforce development and the creation of quality local jobs to meet industry needs,” said Commissioner Representing Labor Ronny Congleton.
Together with its 50 percent owner, Phillips 66, Chevron Phillips Chemical with Sweeny ISD developed a petrochemical academy in Brazoria County in 2014. With an initial combined contribution of $1.6 million, the educational academy allows high school students to take dual-credit technical college-level courses while attending high school.
Chevron Phillips Chemical also donated $50,000 in 2014 and in 2015 to sponsor a Junior Achievement Inspire event, a series of all-day career education assemblies. The event is attended by nearly 19,000 eighth-grade students in the Greater Houston area.
“Congratulations to Chevron Phillips Chemical for its tremendous contribution to the local workforce,” said Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “The collaboration of Chevron Phillips Chemical and local partners exemplifies how employers can make a positive and long lasting impact in their communities.”
“It is an honor for Chevron Phillips Chemical to be recognized as the 2015 Texas Workforce Solutions Employer of the Year. Workforce Solutions is a valuable partner who helps us get the message out that there are excellent career opportunities in the chemical industry,” said Chevron Phillips Chemical Vice President of Human Resources Greg Wagner.
Additionally, four other exemplary employer finalists for Texas Workforce Solutions Employer of the Year included:
Campbell Soup Supply Company (Campbell) was nominated by Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas (Northeast Texas). Campbell collaborates directly with Northeast Texas through recruitment, job postings, job fair participation, annual industry tours and Skills Development Fund grants. Campbell is more than just a major employer of the Paris community; it encourages volunteerism, growth, and support of the local community through hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars in donations to local charities.
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Marcos Hotel, Spa & Conference Center (Embassy Suites) was nominated by Workforce Rural Capital Area (Rural Capital Area). From partnerships with local school districts that have spawned the development of curriculum and internship opportunities for students, to a strategic partnership with Rural Capital Area that has doubled and tripled job fair participation by employers and job seekers, respectively, Embassy Suites is providing career solutions today while developing tomorrow’s workforce.
Lockheed Martin Lufkin Operations (Lockheed Martin) was nominated by Workforce Solutions Deep East Texas (Deep East Texas). Lockheed Martin provides specialized training and career advancement opportunities to its 250 employees, including tuition reimbursement and mentoring. Working with local community colleges and universities, volunteers actively participate in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach by supporting high school and college career fairs and offering STEM presentations to science and engineering departments.
Providence Healthcare Network (Providence) was nominated by Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas (Heart of Texas). Providence Healthcare Network (Providence) delivers health care to Central Texans through a compassionate and innovative medical system of 2,397 employees. Providence’s passion and innovative leadership in the Waco community goes beyond job growth and skills training in the health care arena. Additionally, Providence partners with and participates in numerous nonprofit activities in the Waco-area.
Each of the 28 local workforce development boards recognized a Local Employer of Excellence at the conference. The award honors an employer that is actively involved with Texas Workforce Solutions and has made a positive impact on employers, workers and the community.
Awards also were granted to local workforce development boards that provided outstanding services to Texas employers, workers, job-seekers and local communities. Additionally, monetary awards were given to the boards that were recognized for outstanding performance. Monetary awards will be used to enhance board service programs during the next year.
The primary goal of TWC and the workforce boards is to respond to the needs of Texas employers through locally-designed, market-driven workforce development initiatives and services. All employers, workers and job seekers are eligible to take advantage of these services.
Support for veterans can come in many forms. At the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), that support comes in the form of fellow veterans. Last fall, U.S. Air Force veteran Kandyss Touchstone found herself in Texas with two children and only three bags of belongings. She was starting over after more than 12 years of military life, first as a serviceperson then as a military spouse.
Touchstone quickly secured housing, but shortly after settling in Houston, she was hospitalized for approximately a month. That was when the reality of transitioning to civilian life and the challenges of employment began to surface. The holidays were quickly approaching, and Touchstone had exhausted her savings, was unable to find a job and faced possible eviction. Reluctantly but desperately, she reached out to a Veterans Resource and Referral Specialist through the TWC’s Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP).
This unique program provides veterans with assistance in finding employment, education, job-training or referrals to other community veteran service organizations, and to state or federal programs. The TVLP’s Veteran Resource and Referral Specialists are all veterans with firsthand knowledge and understanding about the challenges of transitioning into civilian life. “Peer-to-peer support is very important in building relationships and trust,” said TVLP Director Bob Gear. “Whatever the need is – short-term, long-term − every situation is unique, but with everyone working together, including our partners in other agencies, this program works to connect veterans to the resources to meet those needs.”
The Texas Veterans Leadership Program (TVLP) was formed in 2008 to serve as a resource and to also provide referrals to returning veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, and Operation Inherent Resolve; however the TVLP does not turn away any veteran seeking assistance. Touchstone connected with the Gulf Coast region’s Veterans Resource and Referral Specialist Chris Howard who quickly provided her with resources and referrals to address the immediate issues – clothes, food, groceries and housing assistance. Next, Howard helped Touchstone write her resume and polish her interview skills.
He was able to connect Touchstone with Nancy Agravante, a staffing specialist with Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast who led her to job interviews and ultimately, an employment opportunity with a state agency. Recently, Touchstone was promoted and is now settling into her new life in Texas. “Emailing the TVLP changed my life,” said Touchstone. “I don’t know where I would be right now without their help.” For Touchstone, the TVLP program provided her clear guidance during a very stressful time. She advises other veterans to seek assistance from the program. “Just follow their directions. They really help and they really change lives,” Touchstone said. “This was not just for me; this was also for my kids. They helped me to feed them and provide for them and that means everything.”
Since its inception, the TVLP has reached out to more than 22,200 veterans and provided direct services to more than 18,000 veterans. For more on the TVLP, please visit texasworkforce.org/txvlp.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) recently announced the expansion of College Credit for Heroes project, awarding $800,000 to support five new accelerated accreditation programs, expanding the projects reach with new education partners and better meeting the needs of veteran students.
Launched as a pilot 2011, College Credit for Heroes partners with 37 universities and community colleges throughout Texas that recognize the knowledge and skills gained by military service members and award college credits for their military experience, allowing these veterans to more easily transition into the civilian workforce. College Credit for Heroes was designated as a permanent program with the passage of SB 806 in the 84th Legislative Session.
“We are pleased to announce the new accelerated programs that demonstrate a commitment to launching innovative approaches to better recognize and credit the training and service of our veterans,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “TWC and our partners will continue to replicate and scale programs that ease the transition of our heroes into Texas jobs.”
The additional colleges and universities will further expand the College Credit for Heroes initiative to locations throughout Texas. This new collaboration will increase the number of veterans and service members who can benefit from the accelerated educational programs.
One of the new participants in College Credit for Heroes is Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), which is developing an accelerated Veteran to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (VBSN) degree in which well-qualified veterans can complete program requirements in less than one year through rapid, online based curricula that students can complete at TTUHSC campuses located in Amarillo, Dallas and the Austin area beginning Spring 2016. Plans are to expand to Abilene and Odessa in 2017.
For a full list of participating colleges and academic opportunities available through College Credit for Heroes, visit: www.collegecreditforheroes.org.
We know Texas weathered the recent national recession better than most states, and it continues to exceed the average in terms of unemployment and job growth, but why? What specific, tangible facts support the case that Texas is a good state in which to do business: Why is it a leader in job growth?
It’s an interesting question, one that many have tried to answer, most recently Mario Favela of the website ‘Moving To Texas.’ And different from many, he made his case in the form of nine very tangible points which we’ve summarized below.
Maybe it’s not perfect, but at the very least it’s a substantive start to a compelling case for why the Lone Star state continues to fair well, and why I for one am just happy to be here.
Energy – The oil and gas industry is booming in Texas which means jobs, but it’s not just oil. Texas is also a national leader in wind energy production and home to two of the largest wind-farms in the country.
Strong Economy – It’s not just the energy industry that’s growing jobs. 52 of the Fortune 500 companies headquarter in Texas, the 2nd largest concentration in the country. And the Healthcare, IT, and Manufacturing industries are all strong and growing.
Business-Friendly Climate – Minimal regulation, tort reform, and right-to-work have helped to create a very employer-friendly environment which many businesses enjoy and thrive in.
Infrastructure – Texas’ central location helps support both domestic and international trade, with a vast and modern connection of highways, airways, railways, and deep water ports.
Latin American Trade – Due to proximity it makes sense why Texas has increased trade with countries like Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. And Texas should benefit from the expansion of the Panama Canal, which will allow giant LNG ships access, thereby opening new trade routes for shipping Texas LNG all over the world.
State Incentives – Texas has specific state incentive programs to help attract new business and encourage economic growth, namely the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund.
Low Taxes – Compared to other states, Texas is average to higher in terms of franchise and property taxes. But, we have no corporate income tax and no individual income tax, meaning Texans generally get to keep more of what they earn.
Quality of Life – Culturally and recreationally speaking, Texas literally has it all (you can ski AND surf). And, real estate is relatively cheap, the cost of living is below the national average, and the state higher education system is collectively considered one of the nation’s best.
Wages – As of May 2012, the average Texas wage was about $44K/year, only slightly behind the national average of about $46K/year, which is somewhat offset by the cost of living, making Texas wages solid overall from a national perspective.
We’ve reached the halfway point of 2013 while also nearing the five-year anniversary of the Great Recession, and the question on many minds around here is: how is the economy doing?
The broadest measure of how the economy is doing is gross domestic product, the value of all goods and services produced within U.S. borders in a given time period. And it has been rising only slowly: 1.8 percent in the first three months of 2013. The government’s first take on the second quarter number will be released on July 31. Here’s a better way to think of GDP, though: Not as a raw number or even a percent change, but how the U.S. economy is doing relative to its potential. That is, if everyone who wanted a job had one, if factories were running at their full capacity, if office buildings were full, how much more economic activity would we have. The answer is quite a bit! Here is actual GDP versus the Congressional Budget Office’s best estimate of potential GDP.
The biggest problem facing the U.S. economy since the end of the recession has been a very weak job market. Are we making any progress changing that? Well, the most widely-watched measure of the job market is the unemployment rate, the percentage of people who want a job who can’t find one. And by that measure, the job market is making steady progress – from a recent national high of 10% in October 2009, to 7.8% the end of 2012, to 7.6% in May 2013. And in Texas, we’ve generally seen the numbers do the same, with the exception of a slight uptick recently; from a high of 8.3% in March 2010, to 6.2% the end of 2012, to 6.5% in May 2013.
But the unemployment rate alone doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the job market: Part of the decline in the jobless rate has come not because of people finding jobs, but because of people dropping out of the labor force. A measure that adjusts for that phenomenon is the employment to population rate, the proportion of the total U.S. population that has a job. And by that measure as shown on this chart there seems to be little progress.
And, what really matters for people looking for work is how many jobs are out there. And in that area, there is more progress. This chart shows the national ratio of job openings to job seekers, and here less really is more. And per WorkInTexas.com, Texas is seeing the same positive trend, from a high of 17:1 in February 2010 to 6:1 this month.
– Special thanks to Neil Irwin of Wonkblog for his contributions.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s a natural time to reflect on all the good in our lives. With that in mind, it seems appropriate to talk about the positive job growth seen by many areas in the wake of the Great Recession. And the good news, three of the top 10 are right here in Texas.
“There is a close correlation between the top locations for job growth and the concentration of fast-growing industries in those markets,” said Matt Ferguson, CareerBuilder CEO. “Technology hiring is a big contributor for growth in the Bay Area and Raleigh, while Texas cities, Oklahoma and Salt Lake are benefiting from strong oil and gas activity. The rebound in manufacturing helped to land Detroit in the top 10 while healthcare continues to thrive in Phoenix.”
The 10 areas with the highest percent of job growth from 2010 to 2012 are:
San Jose, CA (includes Sunnyvale and Santa Clara) – 63,290 jobs added since 2010, signifying 7% growth
Houston (includes Sugar Land and Baytown) – 165,969 jobs added, up 6%
Austin (includes Round Rock and San Marcos) – 49,131 jobs added, up 6%
Detroit, MI (includes Warren and Livonia) – 92,407 jobs added, up 5%
Salt Lake City, UT – 34,137 jobs added, up 5%
Oklahoma City, OK – 28,992 jobs added, up 5%
Raleigh, NC (includes Cary)– 24,725 jobs added, up 5%
Dallas (includes Forth Worth and Arlington) – 128,644 jobs added, up 4%
San Francisco, CA (includes Oakland and Fremont) – 84,014 jobs added, up 4%
Phoenix, AZ (includes Mesa and Glendale) – 81,606 jobs added, up 4%
And just for grins, following is a list of specific industries where percent of job growth has increased by double digits from 2010 to 2012:
Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals – 28,333 jobs added since 2010, signifying 30% growth
Drilling Oil and Gas Wells – 21,970 jobs added, up 29%
Electronic Shopping – 25,327 jobs added, up 23%
Crude Petroleum and Natural Gas Extraction – 32,715 jobs added, up 21%
Temporary Help Services – 438,116 jobs added, up 21%
Machine Shops – 44,754 jobs added, up 18%
Marketing Consulting Services – 27,113 jobs added, up 13%
Computer Systems Design Services – 88,740 jobs added, up 12%
Specialized Freight (except used goods) Trucking, Local – 22,936 jobs added, up 11%
Home Health Care Services – 116,360 jobs added, up 10%
Helping our US Military Veterans successfully transition from their military careers is something we at TWC place a very high emphasis on. We work hand in hand with the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) to ensure that every veteran who wants or needs it, receives all the assistance the Texas workforce system can provide.
To that end, via a partnership with Governor Rick Perry, Texas Medical Center surgeon Dr. James Henry “Red” Duke, Jr., Texas Workforce Solutions, and TVC, let me introduce:
“Hiring Red, White & You.” Hiring Red, White & You is a big, coordinated job fair event that will take place in each of the state’s 28 Workforce Development Areas on Nov. 15, 2012, with the main focus being to help address the employment needs of Texas veterans.
This unprecedented statewide initiative will help Texas employers interested in hiring veterans for their experience, discipline and other exceptional qualities, easily connect with Texas veterans. These job fairs are free to all veterans and employers, though pre-registration is encouraged.
If you’re a veteran (or an employer) and would like more information regarding times and locations, or to get contact information for the event in your area, please visit this webpage. There’s also a PSA on YouTube easily found here. And if you still have questions or want more information, feel free to contact TWC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-936-3103.
If you’ve paid any attention to news over the last few weeks you’ve probably heard talk about STEM jobs, those in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. We’ve had a question or two ourselves and thought it would be a good time to mention a few recent studies on the subject and a few tips about finding those jobs in WorkInTexas.com.
First, generally speaking, STEM jobs are technical jobs requiring some level of specialized education and/or training and for which there is now or is anticipated to be in the future a lack of a qualified applicant pool for employers. Said another way, STEM jobs are good jobs, and if you have or can get the skills to do them, you probably won’t face too much competition to get one. And when we say they’re good jobs, if we’re talking about pay, a recent study by EMSI estimates the average pay difference, just in Texas, between STEM jobs and non-STEM jobs is a little over $16/hr.
Additionally, a recent study by Georgetown University’s Center On Education and the Workforce found that, again just in Texas, about 1/3 require no more education than an Associate degree (keep in mind, we’re talking technical, good-paying, jobs attainable without the time or expense of a 4 or more year degree), and almost half (46%) are in the IT field.
For employers, to mark your jobs as STEM jobs, you can include the term in your job description or add it as a Keyword when creating your posting. Either way, this will allow job seekers looking for those careers to easily find you and your opportunities.