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The Houston Way: More Skilled Workers Needed

April 27, 2015
Plain English Version
Chart showing how education makes a difference

Chart showing how education makes a difference in Houston.

It is no surprise that education and training lead to better jobs. One way to move people from service jobs to production jobs is by improving their skills.What happens when a part of the country tries to do just that?

It is happening in Houston, Texas. Energy companies are spending money to train the local labor force. They say many employees and future workers are not prepared for the jobs being created.

Among the ways they are trying to solve the skills gap is by paying community college tuitions.

This action may be a good way to begin to increase wages and lift more people into the middle-class.

There are many well-paying blue-collar jobs around Houston that are not being filled by local workers because they do not have the right skills. A study found 60 percent of job seekers were not ready to be hired. Many failed a basic skills test that measures things like how to use a ruler. Many failed because of criminal records. Drug use is also a problem.

Workers who pass the skills test get job offers, often from more than one company. One executive said, “It is a dog-eat-dog world to make sure you stay competitive. The pay and benefits must be good.”

Part of the problem is that high schools direct students toward four-year colleges. They ignore the value of technical skills schools. Experts say these careers are the future.

It is hard to get an education while working and supporting a family. Companies are trying to help employees by paying for school. An associate’s degree and skills training may be the best path to the middle-class.

Source: The Wall Street Journal April 23, 2015

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