Galveston, TX – The Aim Hire Policy Coalition, made up of more than twenty leading business and education organizations, urged state policymakers to strengthen funding for community colleges in Texas and drive improved outcomes in the wake of a growing skilled workforce shortage that has left over a million job openings across Texas unfilled as of March 2022. That message came in the form of a report of key policy recommendations for the Texas Commission on Community College Finance to consider – this week, the Commission released its draft report signaling support for the majority of these suggestions.
The recommendations are vital to improving the state’s community college system and the overall economy – from strengthening funding to improving the educational and occupational outcomes for the 650,000 students currently attending a Texas public community or technical college. Without urgent action, Texas risks losing a generation of students and billions of dollars of their potential earnings.
“Despite having one of the longest sustained economic expansions in American history, Texas is facing a pronounced decline in workforce competitiveness due – in large part – to a lack of postsecondary attainment among working aged adults,” the report states. “Today, an estimated 86% of all good full-time jobs in the U.S. require a postsecondary credential. By 2030, 62% of all Texas jobs will require the same.”
According to the Aim Hire Policy Coalition report, Texas is a leader when it comes to job creation but lacks the skilled talent to fill its workforce. Only 32% of Galveston County public school students who graduated from 8th grade in 2009 went on to achieve any type of postsecondary credential ten years later. Statewide, it was only 23%.
A postsecondary credential is essential to participate in the 21st century workforce – but it doesn’t have to be a four-year degree. Labor projections for the Gulf Coast region demonstrate that much of the job growth in the area is in industries that require some college, but not a Bachelor's degree, like utilities construction and teaching assistants. Texas’ community and technical colleges offer the best solution to the state’s workforce challenges. The report shared key recommendations urging state leaders to make targeted, strategic investments in the state’s community colleges to strengthen the Texas workforce.
“Our state is facing a skilled workforce shortage – and it is affecting Galveston businesses," Galveston Mayor Craig Brown said. “Community colleges like Galveston College are uniquely positioned to address this and train our students for the high-demand jobs we need filled in our community, but they need targeted, sustained support from state leaders. That’s why this upcoming Legislative Session must be the Workforce Session – our students, businesses, and the economy as a whole depend on it.”
Texas lawmakers in 2023 will have a $27 billion surplus, according to recent estimates from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, for a total of $149.07 billion in general funds, making the 88th Legislative Session a unique and advantageous opportunity to specifically invest in workforce development.
These recommendations are supported by multiple chambers of commerce and education organizations in Galveston, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Tyler/Longview and more. Click here for a complete list of the Aim Hire Policy Coalition membership. The draft report released by the Commission on September 6, after 8 months of meetings, is highly aligned with the coalition’s recommendations.
Key points from the report:
In Texas today, 54% of jobs in Texas are considered middle-skill, meaning that they require a postsecondary credential beyond high school but less than a bachelor’s degree. However, only 45% of Texans are sufficiently trained for these types of jobs — which leaves a 9-percentage point “middle skills gap” of about 1.4 million Texans, according to the National Skills Coalition.
Without significant, immediate action, the current system will fail to provide Texas employers with the skilled workforce they need while simultaneously putting an entire generation of Texans at risk of being unable to participate in the 21st century economy.
The report’s recommendations are designed to fundamentally reform community college finance in Texas to reflect the needs of the 21st century. They are intended to build upon, support, and advance the state’s new “Building a Talent Strong Texas” goals.
For the specific Aim Hire Coalition recommendations, see the full report.