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Statesman Article Highlights Need for Skilled Trades

Workforce chairman: Manufacturing, skilled trades key to Texas economy

By Laylan CopelinAMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

Published: 8:41 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

[This article can be found at: http://www.statesman.com/business/workforce-chairman-manufacturing-skilled-trades-key-to-texas-2128472.html%5D

Manufacturing is the key to Texas’ economic future, but a shortage of skilled workers demands a new emphasis on skilled trades in public schools, several witnesses told state lawmakers Thursday.

“We have steadily de-emphasized vocational and technical training, preferring to pursue a one-size-fits-all approach, which says that everyone should attend a four-year university,” said Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission.

Although Texas lost 250,000 manufacturing jobs over the past decade, manufacturing firms are complaining of a shortage of skilled workers, Pauken told the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development.

The hardest jobs to fill in the U.S. are for skilled trades, Pauken said, citing the 2011 Manpower Group report. He said teaching skilled trades, such as welding, pipefitting and electrical work, in public schools could affect the dropout rate by giving students a chance to train for a good-paying job.

Pauken’s testimony came as the House committee is studying how well Texas has promoted development in its six industry clusters and whether other industries should get special attention.

Those clusters are aerospace and defense; advanced technologies and manufacturing; biotechnology and life sciences; energy; information and computer technology; and petroleum refining and chemical products.

Pauken said Texas has been turning to community colleges to train workers when an employer moves to the state.

“We need to do more than fill in the gaps on an ad hoc basis,” Pauken said. “We must have a long-term plan that begins educating young Texans in skilled trades long before we get a call from an employer telling us that the local labor market isn’t meeting its needs.”

Pauken said public schools should offer more courses in skilled trades and create separate performance tests — one for students who plan to attend college and one for students in skilled trades.

Several representatives of the state’s manufacturing sector echoed Pauken’s testimony.

On another topic, Austin lawyer Pike Powers, an economic development expert, warned that portions of Texas outside the large metro areas are getting left behind.

Powers said the state should ensure that resources, such as high-speed computers at the University of Texas, are shared. He noted that the Texas Advanced Computing Center has three times the capacity of the state’s other public universities combined.

“We’ve got to pay attention to the rest of Texas,” Powers said.

Powers also provided a “Texas Performance Scorecard” by Harvard professor Michael E. Porter, an expert in industry clusters.

It showed that through 2009, Texas was good at job creation and new business formation but needs improvement in productivity and innovation.

Powers said innovation requires quantity, quality and velocity — the ability to transform innovation into new products and services quickly.

Texas is good at the first two, but it’s “very bad” at creating products and services quickly from its innovations, he said.

“That is a major reason why our global competitors seem very close in the rearview mirror,” Powers said.

He suggested that the state should emphasize industry clusters by promoting a dozen regional research parks as public-private partnerships.

He said choosing a cluster is “not central planning, socialism or ‘picking winners.'”

“A cluster is already a proven winner,” Powers said. “A cluster initiative is about doing what you would have done anyway, but being able to achieve it five to 10 times faster.”

lcopelin@statesman.com; 445-3617

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If you agree with what you just read, make sure and visit our Gateway Homepage to find out how Skillpoint Alliance is contributing.

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Gateway Construction Featured on CNN

February 26, 2010 2 comments

 

Each month, from now until August, the CNN Express is hitting the road with correspondent Tom Foreman, seeking out tales of how people are Building Up America despite the economic hard times.

First stop: Texas. Some economists have predicted that the corridor from Austin to San Antonio is on the leading edge of a nationwide recovery. Tom looks to find out why, chatting with local officials, business owners, and citizens. One featured stop is the Skillpoint Alliance Gateway Construction program at the ACC Riverside campus.

Tom’s Building Up America stories from Texas are featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, American Morning, Situation Room, and other shows. In addition, expanded coverage of the trip will be available on CNN.com.

This post has been having technical difficulties, so if the video fails to pop up, you can view it here instead: http://www.youtube.com/user/SkillpointAustin#p/f/15/wxIFfDyYWTY

Construction Gateway Graduation Tomorrow!

Join us tomorrow, April 3, at 11 as 12 individuals take the next step in creating a better life for themselves and their families.

After five grueling weeks of construction training at ACC Riverside, these individuals will walk across the auditorium tomorrow signifying their commitment to finding employment and being self-sufficient.

Graduation will begin at 11 at ACC Riverside, Bldg. G Lecture Hall. A luncheon will follow.

Great Gateway Graduation Today!

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

(Hey! That’s alliteration!)

Construction Gateway graduated 13 students today! Everyone at Skillpoint is so excited for and proud of the thirteen individuals who are taking the steps to improve their lives.

Today’s guest speaker, Laura Cullin of the Austin chapter of National Association of Women in Construction, encouraged the graduates to continue learning, even after graduation. Cullin also reminded students that everything in life and in construction is always changing and that you can’t assume you know it all.

Today’s turnout was one of the best anyone at Skillpoint could remember. Special thanks to everyone who attended and supported the graduates.

Once again, congratulations and best wishes for today’s graduates!

Construction Gateway to Speak to National Association of Women in Construction

Skillpoint’s Vice President of Adult Workforce Tom Serafin and Construction Gateway Program Coordinator Silvestre Villarreal will speak tonight at the National Association of Women in Construction’s (NAWIC) Region 7 monthly meeting tonight.

Serafin and Villarreal will brief the Austin NAWIC members on the success of Gateway’s graduates, such as the program’s graduates’ recidivism rate being less than 20 percent (Source: The Ray Marshall Center). The state of Texas’ recidivism rate is now more than 30 percent.

Villarreal says he hopes tonight’s briefing will help show Culin’s members how vital this program is not only to the graduates but to the Austin construction industryas well.

“The program not only brings our students hope and new direction in a new life, but it also brings employers an individual who is truly motivated and committed to making  a career in the industry,” Villarreal said.

Toward the end of the five-week program, Gateway invites potential employers to a job fair luncheon where industry leaders can mingle with students. Villarreal hopes NAWIC’s Austin members will become potential employers of Gateway grads.

Skillpoint and Construction Gateway want to thank NAWIC for inviting our speakers to tonight’s meeting. You can learn more about Gateway, including how to become a student or support the program, by calling Silvestre Villarreal at 779-6398.

Construction Gateway’s Last Graduation of 2008

December 10, 2008 Leave a comment
Dennis, a September 2008 Graduate

Dennis, a September 2008 Graduate

Please join us for the last Gateway graduation of 2008 as we celebrate the renewed lives of those who have taken the first steps toward employment and self-sufficiency.

We are pleased to announce that long time friend and supporter of the Construction Gateway program, Tyra Duncan-Hall, will be the guest speaker. Tyra is known for her role as the Austin Community College Provost of Campus Operations, from which she recently retired, as well as for her continued dedication to the Austin community. We recently recognized Tyra for all of her work with the Gateway program and with Austin Community College by presenting her with the Lifetime Educator Achievement award at the Workforce Edge Award Reception on October 23rd. We look forward to having her join us for the graduation!

Commencement will be held Friday, December 12, 2008 at 11 am at Austin Community College, Riverside Campus Bldg. G Lecture Hall. A luncheon will follow in Bldg. C. Please RSVP to Sarah Crocker or call (512) 323-6773 ext. 106.

Gateway graduations are a great way to end the year on a high note, so mark your calendar for December 12th, 11 am at ACC Riverside!

If you know of anyone who could benefit from the Construction Gateway program, please contact Silvestre Villarreal, or call 512-381-4216.

Construction Gateway Graduation This Friday

Skillpoint Alliance is pleased to announce the sixth Construction Gateway graduation ceremony of 2008. Commencement will be held at Austin Community College’s Riverside campus in Building G Lecture Hall. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m., with a lunch to follow.

Twelve students will graduate this Friday. Upon completion of the program, each graduate receives:

  • OSHA Certification in Construction Safety
  • Certification in CPR, First Aid & AED
  • Nine hours of college credit at Austin Community College
  • Six months of credit toward an Associated Builders and Contractors apprenticeship

Construction Gateway is a five-week adult training program available at no cost to residents of Travis County who are unemployed, under employed or transitioning from incarceration and seeking employment opportunities.

The program and our partners are incredibly proud of our soon-to-be graduates. We welcome you to attend to the graduation ceremony and show your support for these students’ efforts to improve their lives and their communities!

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