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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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Skillpoint’s Infectious Disease Plan

Although the North American H1N1 flu pandemic appears to be a mild strain and its threat continues to subside, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that organizations not shelve their contingency plans just yet as new flu strains tend to come in waves and the future of the virus cannot be projected with any accuracy.

A case of North American H1N1 was confirmed yesterday at a North Austin pre-k. While we do not think the virus will be a threat to our programs and normal activities, please read the following plan because of the proximity of the confirmed case to Skillpoint locations and CTTC’s campus partnership with Austin Independent School District (AISD).

In the event of AISD campus closures of our CTTC locations, CTTC will comply with AISD policy and will not hold CTTC classes in the evenings at these campuses. Instead, CTTC will try to accommodate the students of cancelled classes at the downtown location. We will add classes in the afternoons and evenings to ensure that the services you depend upon remain available to you, should any schedule changes become necessary.

We will spray our labs with disinfectant before classes. We will also hire additional custodial staff as necessary.

We ask that if you experience flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, chills, a dry cough, sneezing, vomiting or diarrhea to please stay home.

CTTC will continue to monitor the situation and will post any campus closures on our Website, www.skillpointalliance.org and our blog, www.skillpointalliance.wordpress.com.

Categories: CTTC, In the News Tags: , , , ,

Mayoral Candidate Brewster McCracken Announces Video Contest Winner

Austin mayoral candidate Brewster McCracken announced the winner of his advertising campaign contest, “Your City, Your Vision, Your Ad” earlier this month. The contest was judged by local filmmakers including Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez and allowed Austinites to create their own commercial outlining their vision for Austin.

The winning ad, entitled “Weird Dream,” is described by The Austin Chronicle as a “slickly-produced clip hewing closely to McCracken orthodoxy – green jobs, digital entertainment…” It boasts some of Austin’s many fetes, such as being a leader in “the green revolution” and encourages Austin to continue to “dream weird.”

Skillpoint’s Digital Media Council (DMC) was excited to hear about this competition, which encourages local film makers to participate in the dialogue and create new projects.

“It’s exciting to see politicians using their campaign as a platform for local artists and filmmakers to show off their work,” Kristy Bowden, director of the DMC, said. “All of the submissions were fabulous and I can’t wait to see the winner’s ad air on TV.”

And in case you’re wondering how all of this fits into and is allowed in a political campaign, a press release issued by the McCracken camp at the launch of the contest explained that “because the airtime will be purchased with campaign funds, finance rules require the campaign to add disclosures to the winning ad before it is aired. However, this is not a “Brewster for Mayor” competition.  It is a creative competition.  Entries should not include mentions or visuals of any candidate – including McCracken.”

Be sure to check out all of the finalists at McCracken’s Web site.

CTTC’s Anniversary Party Nearly Here!

Skillpoint Alliance’s Community Technology Training Centers (CTTC) program celebrates 10 years of service to the community and the grand opening of its downtown computer lab Thursday, March 26 from 5:30 to 7:30pm at Skillpoint’s office, 201 East 2nd Street, Suite B, where the lab is housed. Representatives from Microsoft, IBM, City of Austin, Titus Electric, Austin Business Furniture, and Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas will be recognized for their support of the new lab that has served more than 100 clients since opening.

 

CTTC provides low-cost, comprehensive computer training and professional development to Austin’s under- and unemployed population at two local high schools as well as the downtown facility. More than 2,900 were served in 2008 with 65 volunteers providing more than 775 hours of service.

 

“We’re excited about our anniversary party and to show off the lab because our program is more relevant than ever,” says CTTC Managing Director Stacy Bouwman. “Because of the economy, the number of people who’ve attended orientation sessions has doubled since the beginning of the year.”

 

Clients improve computer skills in a variety of classes and learn to make their résumés more competitive through CTTC, which is one of Skillpoint Alliance’s many programs. In its 14-year history, the nonprofit organization has served as a leading intermediary organization in Central Texas by offering thousands of students, educators and adults industry-based career awareness services, cutting-edge professional development and workforce training for underserved populations. For more information,

visit www.skillpointalliance.org.

 

Announcing Partnership with PR Firm TateAustinHahn!

March 16, 2009 1 comment

Skillpoint Alliance is pleased to announce our partnership with Austin PR firm TateAustinHahn. TateAustinHahn selected our nonprofit to participate in a messaging and branding workshop at no cost to us. Read more about this exciting new partnership in the news release from TateAustinHahn, which we’ve included below.

 

Ten Austin Nonprofits to Receive Free Communications Counsel from TateAustinHahn in 2009

 

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Local PR/public affairs firm will host brand and message workshops for each organization

 

AUSTIN, Texas – March 10, 2009 – Local public relations firm, TateAustinHahn, will provide 10 Central Texas nonprofit organizations with brand and message development workshops in 2009 at no cost to the nonprofits.

 

Led by principal Jeff Hahn, the workshops are designed to help each nonprofit define their audience, create compelling messages and develop outreach tactics. This planning will help each group target their communications efforts, which becomes increasingly important as the shrinking economy forces many organizations to operate with less funding.

 

Groups were selected on a first-to-register basis after TateAustinHahn advertised the workshops in the Austin Business Journal’s Philanthropy guide and through Leadership Austin, United Way and Greenlights for Nonprofit Success.

 

Nonprofits selected include:

 

  • Young Men’s Business League
  • Austin Entrepreneurs Foundation
  • Clean Air Force
  • Envision Central Texas
  • Skillpoint Alliance
  • Front Steps
  • American Gateways
  • The Arc of the Capital Area
  • E3 Alliance
  • Annette Strauss Institute

PeopleFund, United Way, Boys and Girls Club and the American Lung Association were some of the organizations that went through a TateAustinHahn workshop in 2008.

 

“It’s our 35th year of business and we think the best way to celebrate is by giving back to the organizations that help make our region better,” said Jeff Hahn, principal of TateAustinHahn. “Our hope is that in these difficult economic times, our expertise can help nonprofits more effectively reach their donors and supporters.”

 

For more information about the TateAustinHahn Message Workshops, visit

 

http://www.tateaustinhahn.com/goodwords

 

About TateAustinHahn –

 

http://www.tateaustinhahn.com

 

TateAustinHahn is an independent, full-service public relations and public affairs agency in business since 1974. The company builds business for its clients by helping develop stories, brands and reputations. The firm serves private companies, public agencies and nonprofit organizations, most often engaged in real estate, energy, transportation, healthcare, consumer and the arts.

 

Contact: Brian Dolezal at bdolezal@tateaustinhahn.com or 512-344-

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: UT to Unveil Barbara Jordan Statue

The University of Texas at Austin will unveil a statue of Barbara Jordan, the first black woman to serve in the US Congress since the Reconstruction, on Friday, April 24 at 12 pm.  The statue will be located among the University’s famous Battle Oaks at the corner of 24th Street and Whitis.

Barbara Jordan is best known for achieving many firsts. She became only the third black woman in Texas to become licensed to practice law. She was the first black state senator since 1883 and was the first black woman ever serve in that body in the state. She was the first African-American female to serve as president pro tem of the state senate and served for one day as acting governor of Texas in 1972. Jordan was also the first black woman from a Southern state to serve in the US House of Representatives.

Jordan supported the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and fought for poor and under-served minority communities. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 and was elected into both the Texas and National Women’s Hall of Fame. After retiring from politics in 1979, Jordan became an adjunct professor at the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs. Jordan died in 1996 but her contributions have not been forgotten.

The University is proud to honor Barbara Jordan.  The unveiling of the Barbara Jordan statue represents the first statue of a prominent female public figure in the 125 year history of the University.

Please  mark your calendar and join the celebration at UT on April 24!