Rob Kaplan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said in a recent Bloomberg op-ed that the U.S. economy is getting stronger. But, he added that challenges remain that require steps beyond monetary policy.

The declining rate of labor force participation in the U.S. and the requirement for higher skill levels presents a challenge to achieving full employment.

Already there are shortages of workers for middle-class wage jobs such as nurses, construction workers, truck drivers, oilfield workers, automotive technicians, industrial technicians, heavy equipment operators, computer network support specialists and web developers. If these jobs go unfilled, U.S. growth will be impeded.

In order to counteract these trends, the U.S. must work to find ways to expand the workforce and improve productivity.

In his Bloomberg op-ed, Kaplan highlighted Texas City ISD, he said: “One example of this type of collaboration is the new Texas City Independent School District Industrial Trade Center. Texas City depends on industrial and petroleum businesses, both of which require skilled workers. The Industrial Trade Center is a partnership between the Texas City school district and local business leaders.

“It offers technical-skills training for maritime, construction trades, welding, pipefitting, instrumentation, electronics as well as machinist trades. It also trains students in soft skills, such as effective workplace communication, that will help them become more productive members of the workforce. Graduates will help close the local skills gap and earn middle-class wages.”

Workers training and retraining during their careers is likely to substantially increase in the years ahead. Adapting to industry changes are essential to creating growth in middle-class jobs. Programs like these are likely to be hallmarks of successful communities.

Industries and businesses are working with TCISD and College of the Mainland developing apprenticeship programs and offer incentives for their employees to further their education by signing up for specialized training.

As community colleges become more tooled to train the workforce and school districts migrate to more specialized vocational education, TCISD and COM are poised to be national examples to equip workers to join the workforce or improve their skills so they can take higher paying jobs.

COM is a recognized national leader with its Process Technology and offers other vocational courses, but an upgrade in facilities is long overdue.

Voters will be electing trustees for both TCISD and COM on May 6 with early voting starting April 24.

School districts and community colleges do more than provide education and training, they define our communities as a place where families and businesses choose to locate. This gives reason why voters should elect trustees who will focus on protecting the public’s investment, set goals and policy that earns taxpayers trust. All of the candidates have a work history, it makes sense that voters choose the candidates who have a proven record of achievement.

We are living in times of uncertainty, however there are possibilities of a booming economy. Those cities and institutions who succeed will be the ones who are prepared and elect good qualified people to lead this charge.

Jack Cross lives in Texas City.

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(8) comments

TJ Aulds

Jack is right. Both are important. In the case of College of the Mainland support for the status quo and electing people with the old ideas and who prefer to do business in secret and behind closed doors won't make the improvements Jack and others support. That's why reading the other guest column today from Melissa Skipworth is important. At least she's talking about the issues at COM and what she will do about them. She and Don Gartman are the best choices for COM.

Kimberley Jones Yancy

Great article Jack Cross and so true. These are exciting times for the Mainland. If we strive for perfection and we all work together we will catch excellence.

PD Hyatt

COM has been a boondoogle for a few decades as they have fought each other fired how many Presidents and lost how many millions to lawsuits? And not they want to go out and spend a fortune and rebuilding what they did not take care of? Why should the taxpayers have to rebuild a college that didn't have the sense to take care of what they had to begin with and was so embroiled in lawsuits that they threw away money that could have been used to keep the place up! I for one vote a resounding NO!

Gary Scoggin

The whole purpose of this election is to get people on the BOT that make the responsible decisions you discuss. At what point would you support a bond election? Ever? Do you just want to let the place crumble to the ground? How would that serve the taxpayer interests?

The North County issue needs to be addressed for sure. On a different post TJ included a link to Melissa Skipworth's position. Perhaps you should speak to that rather than incorrectly saw nobody is discussing it.

PD Hyatt

One thing that I forgot to ask from the ones who are knowledgable, is when is the vote to include the North Galveston County going to happen as for them paying taxes into the COM taxing district? After all they use the college, shouldn't they have to pay the same tax rate as we do besides the tuition????? I have yet to hear ANY of you who are for increasing the taxes for COM's bond issue say ONE LITTLE word about this subject.... Something tells me that it is not a subject that you want to discuss!!!!

Jack Cross

PD the purpose of a college is to educate students, one of the purposes of Trustees is to protect the public's investment. You have a point to be critical of the Trustees, but that should be separated from the effectiveness of the education standards at COM. Most people generally agree that Beth Lewis did a good job so if she did a good job, so did COM along the lines of educating students. This election is about electing good trustees to the COM board. We are not voting on a bod election and I see no connection between voting for the candidate of you choice or anything to do about a future bond. When that occurs, COM, the trustees and the committee will have to convenience voters of its merits. I don't think anyone can argue the need for COMs facilities to be upgraded. The fact that they are not is not because the Trustees neglected them, it is because of transparency and other issue that caused the trustees to lose voters confidence. I can't fault them for everything because outside of these issues, COM has been providing the services it was founded for and doing a pretty good job. I think the public will appreciate the new president and I look at this election to give him the strength and support he needs.

David Floyd

PD Hyatt, there will never be a vote of those of us living in the COM District requiring those in the Clear Creek ISD boundaries being required to pay into the COM District. Those folks have to do that themselves and that aint- a- gonna happen. Why should they vote to pay more taxes? The out of district fees are not that high and they can select from COM, San Jac or Alvin for the same price.

Jose' Boix

Both the TCISD and COM candidates' election is critical for the continuous forward progress of our education system. Electing candidates who are proven leaders and work to provide unity and accord is the key. Sad as it was, we just have to recall how lack of leadership turned for the LMISD. Please get out to vote starting April 24. Check out times/polling locations: http://www.galvestonvotes.org/2017_Elections/May_Entity/EntityPollingLocationsMay.html

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