Submitted by San Jacinto College
Industries in Texas show no signs of slowing down as growth continues with an increased need for skilled workers. Community colleges in the state stand ready to train and deliver the right candidates for the jobs.
With more than 210,000 jobs added to Texas in 2016, there’s been a spike in growth specifically within the education, health services, hospitality and manufacturing sectors, according to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). Within the next seven years, Texas is projected to add more than 1.8 million jobs in health care, increase teaching and administrator jobs in both private and public education schools by 25 percent, and increase manufacturing jobs by 7 percent.
Other industries like petrochemical are continuing to expand with new projects, creating a ripple effect of need for workers in an array of industrial technology jobs. Approximately 11,430 direct employees and resident contractors in the combined operations, maintenance and engineering occupations will be needed to replace attrition and fill newly-created positions in the petrochemical industry by the close of 2019, according to the Economic Alliance Houston Port Region. With $40 billion in capital investment, it is estimated that plant expansions along the Texas Gulf Coast region will result in 1,000 permanent jobs and approximately 30,000 construction jobs.
While industries look for new hires, what they really look for are skilled workers – those who are trained and ready for the job, and even better, with an associate degree. Jobs in areas like process technology and maritime, that were once held by employees with high school diplomas, now require more regulated training for skill sets that can include math, computer skills and soft skills.
This is where Texas community colleges come into play.
Community colleges are best positioned to provide customized training in their local community because of their familiarity with specific workforce needs, according to the TWC 2016 Skills Development Fund Annual Report.
Training efforts at community colleges include building new facilities with equipment and environments that closely replicates that of where graduates will one day work, like a sim lab for nursing students, a plant lab for process technology or bridge simulators for maritime students.
Many Texas colleges have received state and federal grants to assist industry in the training of current or incoming employees and make training more available to colleges’ service areas. For example, TWC awarded Laredo Community College a $332,500 Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) grant to install equipment to provide 158 students in the medical profession with training for advanced nursing skills. North Lake College was granted a $407, 230 TWC Skills Development Fund grant to partner with a manufacturing and distribution consortium for job training. San Jacinto College received an $8.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to provide tuition-free training to low-income individuals for select health occupation courses and program.
For many employers, their nearby community college serves a training hub where they’re a partner in ensuring graduates are prepared to land jobs and “hit the ground running” on Day 1.