Texas Comptroller Susan Combs Issues Report on Texas Workforce, Proposes Steps to Ensure Continued Prosperity
(AUSTIN) —Even as Texas leads the nation in the creation of good jobs, there is a need to expand and diversify our educational and training pathways to meet employers’ demand for highly trained workers, according to a report released today by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.
In the report titled Workforce — Capitalizing on Our Human Assets, the Comptroller’s office explores the promise of Texas’ young population and the economic growth that has created worker shortages in some industries. Combs also lays out recommendations that would help the Texas workforce continue to enjoy prosperity in the coming decades.
“Low costs, business-friendly regulation and a large, young and willing workforce have made Texas one of the few bright spots in a chronically weak national picture,” Combs said. “But to close the skills gap, we must ensure our young people can acquire the tools sought by Texas employers and assist them in refining and upgrading those skill sets throughout their careers.”
Between 2000 and 2010, Texas’ under-18 population grew by more than 979,000, or 17 percent — 6.5 percent faster than the U.S. average of 2.6 percent. These numbers should position the state to have a strong workforce — if the young workers receive proper training and education.
According to a 2012 Dallas Federal Reserve roundtable, employers said they had trouble “finding workers with sufficient skills for higher level technical jobs, such as those in machinery, engineering and programming.” The report points out that in the current environment, technical skills must be continually upgraded and that tomorrow’s jobs will come with the expectation of lifelong learning.
“Before the skills gap gets to a breaking point, it is important that we realize today’s best jobs require ever-increasing levels of specialized knowledge and technical expertise,” Combs said. “Even traditional blue-collar occupations are being refined by technology, and programs such as the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) fund are providing the tools needed to equip workers at every level.”
For Texas education, business and legislative leaders who want to effectively provide meaningful post-secondary training opportunities for workers — no matter where they are in their careers — Combs is making these recommendations:
- Texas needs a sustained information campaign to encourage students to pursue Career and Technical Education (CTE) and industry-specific certification programs.
- Texas should consider continuing to increase the number of Texas Early College High School campuses as approved by the Texas Education Agency (TEA), if evidence shows their ongoing effectiveness.
- Texas should increase the accessibility of Adult Education Provider services.
- Texas should track involvement and completions in industry-based certification programs.
- Texas should consider incentives for companies that adopt apprenticeships, and it should also develop an information campaign to encourage program adoption.
“Texas’ tremendous growth and excellent business climate have created extensive opportunity in our state,” said Tony Bennett, president of the Texas Association of Manufacturers. “It is absolutely essential that we take steps now to ensure that Texas’ workforce is equipped to take advantage of that opportunity. I applaud Comptroller Combs for bringing this issue forward, and the Texas Association of Manufacturers welcomes the chance to work with employers, educators and the Legislature to keep Texas workers competitive in an ever evolving labor market.”
Read the report now at www.txworkers.org.
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