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A Grassroots Response to the Texas Skilled Labor Shortage

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The skilled labor shortage in Texas (parts of North Texas, and especially in Houston) has been looming over the construction industry in the Lone Star State for some time now. Experts began warning of the pending problem at a time when it was apparent that an oil downturn was on the horizon – something that normally echoes direction in construction and development industries. However, community colleges are trying to bring their A-game when it comes to training young people (and retraining those that have recently left the workplace for new employment) with respect to skilled trades, and those that graduate are well on their way to making anywhere between $15 and $30 per hour to start.

A Grassroots Response to the Texas Skilled Labor Shortage

Photo: Pixabay

Houston Community College (HCC) is one of those schools, where registered students can take welding, pipefitting, plumbing, air conditioning technology, electrical, and computer-aided design programs. Many such courses are also taught in Spanish in order to include and engage immigrants, who are presently a large part of America’s construction workforce. In a press report published in April of this year, Tom Tynana, director of HCC’s construction trade program, noted, “We’re their last chance. Some of them don’t have high school diplomas. They just have nowhere to go and when they come here, they have an opportunity.” And with the construction industry in Texas in desperate need of skilled workers, this results in a perfect match.

A Grassroots Response to the Texas Skilled Labor Shortage

Photo: Pixabay

One of the reasons the industry is facing such labor woes is the outside perception by youth and some more mature catchments that construction jobs are “blue collar,” and consist of dirty and hard work. Peter Beard, who oversees the UpSkill Houston program through Greater Houston Partnership, explained, “There’s no arguing that being a welder is dirty and sweaty. But they are also great opportunities for great careers.” Launched in 2014, UpSkill Houston’s mission is to connect workers, education, and industry in order to fill the skilled labor shortage in Texas. They do this for not only the construction industry, but the petrochemical and healthcare industries as well. And, it’s working.

A Grassroots Response to the Texas Skilled Labor Shortage
Photo: Pixabay

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