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.