The Economic Development Pulse October 2015 - Page 4

Workforce

4

Building Partnerships to Address Skill Shortages

For the past five years, the Odessa and Midland MSAs have enjoyed

the lowest unemployment rates in Texas and the U.S. However, with

the lowest unemployment rate comes issues with maintaining a

skilled workforce to address local employer’s needs. Through

partnerships with Odessa College, Ector County ISD, and Community

Based Organizations, we are training our own to bridge the skills gap

between employee’s abilities and employer’s needs. The Workforce

Board has been a strong supporter of the Dual Credit Career/

Technology programs and provided over $125,000 in scholarship

funds. For the past two years, Odessa College has seen over 400

youth enrolling in the Dual Credit Career/Technology programs.

These students are receiving training in these occupations identified

on the Board’s Targeted Occupations List:

• Welding

• Machinist

• Electrical

• Diesel

• Automotive

• Safety

The Workforce Board partners with the Odessa Chamber Economic Development Department to host the area’s Red, White and You Veterans job fair. This is a statewide initiative to encourage employers to hire a veteran. This year’s job fair is November 12, 2015.

The Workforce Board clearly has a big picture view when it comes to focusing on our local industry needs. Our mission statement is “Investing In The Future Through Jobs and Training”. Our Workforce Solutions Offices serves over 20,000 job seekers annually, with an average job placement of 650-700 per month. Our system integrates several workforce related serves to assist employers and job seekers.

When you look at the Workforce Board’s $12,500,000 budget, $6,800,000 is for subsidized Child Care assistance for working families and those who are in job training programs. Child Care is a critical need that must be met if our community is going to expand our workforce population. The Board provides scholarships for individuals who work for Child Care providers through Odessa College. We offer Child Care conferences twice a year on topics designed to improve the quality of care provided to our youngest citizens.

As we begin transitioning from having the lowest unemployment rate in the State to seeing an increase in our unemployment due to layoffs in the Oil and Gas industry, our local Workforce Solution Offices are encouraging dislocated workers to enroll in training programs from the Board’s Targeted Occupation list. We are seeing individuals go into teaching, medical occupations, truck driving, computer programming and other occupations. The Offices host job fairs for local companies to further aid in connecting job seekers with employers. It is during these particular times that we see the need to enhance our efforts to bring about economic diversification.

For more information on training and other resources, visit the Texas Workforce Solutions Website: workforcepb.org

Texas Workforce Commission

Willie Taylor

CEO Workforce Solutions Permian