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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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Resource for Job Seekers

Launch Pad Job Club (LPJC) is a networking, support, and job lead sharing organization that aids and supports jobseekers in their search for The Perfect Job.  A federally recognized nonprofit organization, LPJC presents free weekly meetings that provide job search information, motivation, programs, speakers, networking opportunities, door prizes, bananas, and grins.  Looking for a job is way too scary to do by yourself.  By joining LPJC, you will benefit from the combined resources of other interesting, intelligent, supportive, talented, and good looking professionals as everyone helps each other survive the challenges of the job hunt. 

 

LPJC meets from 10-11:30 a.m. at 1016 La Posada, suite 280, behind the Doubletree Hotel on I-35N.

 

Afternoon meetings will be held in addition to the regular Friday morning meetings on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of every Month.  These meetings will cover the same content as the morning, just at 1:30 pm. 

 

Attending for the first time?  Come at 9:30 a.m. for new member orientation, or if it’s the 1st or 3rd Friday of the month, there is an additional orientation at 1pm in Room #290.

   

Next Meeting – 10:00 am Friday, April 10th. Top Guns at Noon!

Preparing for Census, a Look at Community Planning

February 17, 2009 Leave a comment

As the US Census Bureau gears up for Census 2010, city planners and community leaders brace for the impacts of a changing nation on community building.

Another nonprofit, The National Association of Planning Councils, will host its ninth annual conference in Austin on March 2-4 at the Hyatt on Town Lake. Below we’ve included the details of the events.

 

MONDAY, March 2nd: Preparing for the impact of the new Census changes on community planning featuring:

 

Susan Schechter, Chief, American Community Survey Office 

Karl Eschbach, Demographer for the State of Texas

Ryan Robinson, Demographer for the City of Austin

Mark Salling, Director of the Northern Ohio Data & Information Service in The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University; The Center for Community Solutions

Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County Commissioner

*Census event is free for local participants with RSVP to vsarria@austinisd.org.

 

Also “Community Planning 101” and “Tapping the Mature Workforce-Baby Boomer Retirees Seeking Encore Careers in Nonprofits” featuring:

 

Ben Warner, President, NAPC; Deputy Director, JCCI (Jacksonville, FL)

Martha Blaine, leader of NAPC’s Mature Workforce Initiative; Board member, NAPC; Executive Director, Community Council of Greater Dallas (Dallas, TX)

 

TUESDAY, March 3rd:  The new “big picture”, the emerging scene following the national elections, the economic crisis, global and national trends driving community change, public policy for short-term and long-term improvements, and community implications featuring:

 

Jerry Friedman, Director, American Public Human Services Association

Heidi Shierholz, PHD, Labor Economist and Co-Author with Larry Mishel of “The State of Working America,” Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Washington, D.C.

 

WEDNESDAY, March 4th: Using 21st century technology to solve 21st century problems…tools you can implement immediately to improve information gathering, analysis, policy development, presentation of information to the community, advocacy, and community engagement featuring:

 

Dr. Philip Huang, MD, MPH, Medical Director, Austin/Travis County Health & Human Services Department

Jim Walker, Executive Director of the Central Texas Sustainability Indicators Project; Children’s Optimal Health

Frances P. Deviney, PhD, Texas KIDS COUNT Director, Center for Public Policy Priorities

 

Website Recommendation: Remember The Milk

If you’ve been working on improving your productivity (or are at least thinking about it as a possible New Year’s resolution), a fantastic website along the get-things-done (GTD) lines is Remember The Milk. While many GTD websites and ideas come and go, Remember The Milk is on its third year, and as popular as ever specifically because it is so customizable.

It offers reminders via email, text, and instant messenger programs, and has recently expanded its applications to include Gmail and IPhones. Plus, it allows you to customize your tasks however you would like, find maps for your errands, and share your lists with people. The best part? It’s totally free. With holidays around the corner and then a new year, what could be better than remembering more while paying less?

Reliable Voting Information is Available!

It’s easy to get confused about voting. There’s a lot of information, including misinformation (some deliberate and some not, as this article indicates), that exists. The key is to know which information to trust and where to go when you have questions.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce has started a site entitled Keep Austin Voting that gives a quick run down of the candidates on all levels, as well as various county issues. The Chamber says, “Resources on the website include poll locations, voting dates and times. Information and links about candidates for federal, state, and county positions as well as propositions for the City of Austin, Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD are also available.”

Another reliable website is the official Travis County County Clerk website, which offers a variety of resources, including their phone number which you can call, and answers frequently asked questions.

For more information on voter misinformation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, has just released a report.

As early voting has already started, here are some quick links on voting locations:

For Early Voting

For Election Day, November 4th

Categories: Resources Tags: ,

Basic Computer User Tips

Here’s a great article listing a lot of tech tips that are helpful during even the most basic computer use.  Be sure to read the comments for additional tips as well!

CTTC Computer Lab Article in the Austin Business Journal!

CTTC Director Stacy Bouwman

CTTC Director Stacy Bouwman

Check it out! There is an entire article dedicated to the new CTTC computer lab, scheduled to open October 13th at our downtown office, in the Austin Business Journal, including this excerpt:

The new downtown lab enables Skillpoint to expand its services and add daytime hours. Being outside the high school setting also allows for the use of Web sites such as the networking site LinkedIn. Meanwhile, the nonprofit will remain in the high schools to reach low-income residents.

“We also hope to serve the employers of downtown. We hope to see them sending their employees to us for training,” Bouwman says.

The lab, which will be able to accommodate about 55 trainees each week, is able to tailor classes to employers’ needs for existing and prospective employees, she says.

While you can only read a bit of it online if you’re not a subscriber, you can read it all if you pick up a copy or if your office subscribes.  Many thanks to the ABJ and Sandra Zaragoza.