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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.

15th Annual College and Career Expo Approaching!

College & Career Expo 2011 Logo

Since its inception in 1996, Skillpoint Alliance’s College and Career Expo has grown to serve over 3,000 high school juniors  and seniors. Participating students have the opportunity to meet with industry professionals and college recruiters, and they are provided with many resources needed to prepare themselves for career and college readiness.The 2011 College and Career Expo will be Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 9am-1pm at the Palmer Events Center. Mark your calendars!

Students interested in attending college will receive information about college applications, financial aid, and attendance, and a special focus is given to low-income/first generation students. By providing them with resources and information, educators at the College and Career expo give students a boost in college preparations, and get them on the right track to beginning a productive career in the Austin area.

Students also have the opportunity to visit with employers and industry professionals, who serve as career role models by showcasing businesses and services and guiding the interests of student attendees to help them decide on potential career paths they want to take. Industry, government, education, and non-profit representatives are invited to help students explore potential Central Texas career prospects that match their strengths and interests. By starting students on their career paths early, Skillpoint Alliance helps ensure a trained, skilled workforce for the Central Texas businesses of the future.

Sponsors
Skillpoint is excited to be hosting the 15th annual College and Career Expo, and we are still looking for sponsors! Sponsors can sign up by visiting our website, and more information can be found here. We’d also like to thank our primary sponsor, The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, for their continued support of the College and Career Expo. Whether you are a student, educator, or employer, we hope to see you at the Palmer Events Center on October 6, where you can help us build a better Austin workforce.

Partner Post: Girlstart to Graduate First Project IT Girl class!

prject-it-girl1Girlstart, an Austin non-profit founded in 1997 to empower girls to excel in math, science, and technology, is proud to announce the first Project IT Girl graduation on May 22 from 6 to 9 pm at Austin City Hall.

Project IT Girl is an exclusive program for 60 high school girls throughout Austin, Texas to learn how to change the world through the use of Information Technology! Program participants apply technology to global topics they are passionate about to educate and persuade their peers.

Girlstart has enrolled 60 high school girls for this three year program. Participants remain in the program from their sophomore year of high school through their high school graduation in 2009. All participants are required to attend 120 hours of Girlstart meetings each year for three years and complete evaluation activities. Program meetings are held at Austin Community College campuses and the Girlstart Tech Center.

Year One: Project IT Girl participants created public service announcements to educate their peers about global issues such as “Animal Welfare”, “Teen Suicide, and “AIDS/HIV Awareness.”

Year Two: Project IT Girl participants created educational games using Python to be submitted to the One Laptop per Child for possible distribution to schools around the world!

Year Three: Project IT Girl participants will learn critical leadership skills, serve their community, and prepare for college all while using HTML and CSS to create personal online portfolios showcasing their academic and professional accomplishments. The IT Girls will also participate in a semester-long technology internship, gaining valuable hands-on experience to add to their resumes.

The girls will present their final projects to C3 Presents and Motorola at 6 pm and will graduate at 7:30. The ceremony will be followed by an hors d’oeuvres reception.

To RSVP for this event, please email first and last name to rsvp@girlstart.org with “May 22, 2009” in the subject line.

Parking for this event is free. The entrance to the garage is on Lavaca Street on the east side of City Hall. Upon entering the garage, look for signs directing you to the “public” parking area. Take your parking ticket inside to be validated.

DMC Opens Registration for DMX Competition

The Digital Media Exchange is a regional competition that offers Central Texas high school students a chance to showcase their digital media projects to industry professionals, educators, and community leaders. Student projects are evaluated on product quality and design and presentation skills. Ten projects in each category will be chosen to compete at the DMX Competition on Saturday, May 16th.

At the DMX Competition event, the top three teams in each category receive blue ribbon awards and they and their classrooms receive software and hardware packages to improve their digital production capabilities.
Teams will present their projects to a panel of judges and have 5 minutes to present on the development process.

Beginning in February 2009, students will have about 12 weeks to:
Develop one or more creative technology projects
Create a presentation to deliver to a panel of judges

Rules & Regulations

Students can submit projects in multiple categories, but each team or individual will only be invited to compete in one category.

Video games

Animation

2D Digital Art/Photography

Film

Journalism/Broadcast

Community Service

Team Size

A team must consist of at least 2 students. For video games, teams cannot be larger than 12 students. To be eligible, students must be in 9th-12th grade.

Individuals

Students can ONLY compete as individuals or teams in the Animation, 2D digital art, and Community Service categories.

Individuals who submit their own projects cannot have worked in collaboration during any part of the process.

DMX Important dates:

March 1, 2009
Registration opens
May 1, 2009
Registration closes
All materials must be submitted
May 16, 2009
DMX Competition

Austin Energy Science Festival Going on Now!

February 20, 2009 1 comment

Several of Skillpoint’s programs and councils such as TEEC serve to encourage public school students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and careers. So you can imagine that we love seeing kids delving in and making a difference. That’s why we’re so happy to pass on information about the Austin Energy Science Festival. Though it began Wednesday, the public can still check out the final round on Saturday at the Palmer Events Center.

According to http://www.sciencefest.org, the Science Festival “encourages and rewards innovative student research. It also provides scientists, engineers, and other professionals a chance to volunteer in the community.”

News 8 Austin reported that  “more than 8,000 youth competed” in what is the largest regional science fair in Texas. Students in first through 12th grade in ten area school districts were invited to compete.

ScienceFest explains that the “winning Junior/Senior Division projects advance to the ExxonMobil Texas Science and Engineering Fair. Best of Fair Senior Division projects advance directly to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Two high school and two middle school projects focused on applied engineering, sustainable energy, or environmental engineering advance to the I-SWEEP International Olympiad.”

Parking is available at the Palmer Events Center. Austin Energy will subsidize this cost by passing out coupons that will reduce the price of parking to $3.

For more details, check out http://www.sciencefest.org/index.php.

Save the Date for Explore UT

Skillpoint would like to pass on the following information about Explore UT, the campus-wide open house at the University of Texas at Austin. This is a great opportunity for middle and high school students to get excited about learning and to realize education can create enormous possibilities for their lives.

explore-ut

Explore UT: A Fun Look at College and Careers

 

What: “Explore UT: The Biggest Open House in Texas!”

When: Saturday, March 7, 2009, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: The University of Texas at Austin

Who’s invited: Students K-12, teachers, and families. Everyone is welcome

Cost: Free, no sign-up for activities. You arrange your food and transportation.

Web site: www.utexas.edu/events/exploreut

 

Students can choose from more than 400 learning activities on campus. Here are some of the most popular learning activities every year:

         watch robot dogs play soccer,

         participate in a trial of “Gold E. Locks” with a real judge presiding,

         assemble a miniature solar-powered car,

         deliver the TV news in a real TV studio,

         build a bridge with engineering software,

         march with the Longhorn Band,

         see some of the world’s finest Latin American art in the Blanton Art Museum.

 

Here are some new activities that we’re adding this year:

         What FDR Might Tell Obama: Watch a depression-era president offer his advice.

         Facebook – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Learn how to use it safely.

         Capture that Gas: Learn why carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere.

         Computer Mapping: Find your way around the world using an advanced geographic information system.

         Paradox of the Hungry and Obese: Learn why many of the poor are often overweight and what can be done.

         Engineers for a Sustainable World: Explore projects such as sand filters and home-made windmills.

         Solarean: Check out this prototype of a solar-powered vehicle.

         Emotional Editing: Learn how editors use music and graphics to make films sing and dance.

         Lights! Camera! Action: Watch University students rehearse and film a TV drama.

         Student Rights: Learn why schools can prescribe a dress code without violating constitutional rights.

 

Plus, your students can interact with University students to get “the real scoop” about college life and learn about careers in such fields as architecture, business, communication, law, pharmacy, computer science, engineering, and education.

 

The goal is to get students – as young as elementary school age – excited about learning and see enormous possibilities for their lives. It offers enrichment in science, the arts, literature and language, and it’s a great motivator for students whose families have never been to college.

 

For a better idea of what Explore UT is like, request a printed program from last year. These 28 pages contain descriptions of lots of activities that will stimulate and challenge students. It also contains a map that shows how the campus will be divided into color-coded, Disneyland-type “realms of discovery.”

 

You can also request a DVD showing students participating in Explore UT 2007. Just send us your mailing address, and we’ll send you a copy.

 

Spread the Word to Parents and Families

We can send you a PDF file of this year’s Explore UT flyer. Feel free to distribute copies to parents.

 

Remember: Explore UT is free, and there’s no registration for activities. You just come and explore.

 

Bus Registration Underway

Plan a field trip for your group. Register buses online at the University’s Explore UT Web site: http://www.utexas.edu/events/exploreut/bus.html  Registering your buses helps us plan parking and welcoming activities. By return email, you will receive a map for your bus driver and information about arranging lunch in a residence hall. Lunch is $5.75 a person. Of course, you may bring sack lunches for a picnic on campus or buy food from campus vendors.

 

Questions? Please call or email: Barbara Langham, 512-346-2261, blangham@austin.utexas.edu

 

COOL Week This Week

Skillpoint will once again participate in this week’s Leander and Cedar Park ISDs’ COOL Week, which stands for Career Opportunities On Location. It is a week long, unpaid, project-based internship available to senior students each spring. Skillpoint has hosted students during COOL Week for more than half a decade. This year, three wonderful high school seniors will be hosted at Skillpoint’s office.

 

According to Leander ISD representative Pat Pewthers, “This [COOL Week] is the culmination of the Leander ISD Career Development System where students choose a Career Passport their freshman year and take classes to support that “major” during their high school career.”

 

COOL Week includes a mock job interview and application process, followed by a mock employee orientation. A bit of job shadowing is followed by a team project and a presentation given by the students of the results of that project on the last day of COOL Week.

Skillpoint looks forward to having three high school students in our midst this week and hope this week is a learning experience for us all!

For more information on COOL Week, contact Pat Pewthers at pat.pewthers@leanderisd.org or 435-5342.