WHA’s Education & Workforce Development Committee member, Bryant Black (GHP), invited the committee to attend the Upskill Works Conference on June 26th.
The Upskill Houston Program aims to close the skills gap by providing resources for the private entities and residents to help our region thrive. Many students have been given the illusion that a four-year college degree is the only option after high school, which is a false narrative. Upskill is hoping to shed light on many of the other opportunities for graduates by expanding the technical and craft career paths that require more training or certifications than high school provides but still less than a four-year degree.
The first annual Upskill Works event highlighted the work that has already been done to encourage partnerships with the education and private entities who can currently create more opportunities for Houston residents. The first event panel was made up of Andrea Hodge (TRIO Electric), Tammy Newman (JPMorgan Chase) and David King (INEOS). The three panelists discussed their in-house apprenticeship programs that each help individuals re-skill themselves, while helping organizations gain employees to fit positions they were struggling to fill. Hodge explained that TRIO Electric has a pre-apprenticeship program that starts cultivating interest for high schoolers during the summer before their graduations.
A sentiment that was echoed throughout the event was that these programs have been very valuable for both the participants and the industry. High retention rates in each of their programs were reported from all of the panelists. As well as success stories from individuals participating in the programs. Moving forward emphasis was placed in the fact that this program will be important to help continue engagement in the community through partnerships and industry focus on a long-term approach.
After the lunch speaker, Robert Kaplan (President & CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas), the conference broke out into sections where individuals got a chance to hear how these programs can be implemented in schools and how the community can get more involved. WHA is excited to have Black on our Education & Workforce Development Committee and appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the event. We look forward to working together.