August 26, 2019
UpSkill Houston as a Catalyst of Change
What if, by 2025, UpSkill Houston helped advance 500,000 Houstonians into and along mid-skills careers – good jobs that require more education and skills development than afforded by high school but less than a four-year bachelor’s degree – impacting roughly half of the demand for these roles in the region, and creating better opportunity for all?
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) proposed this goal, or “North Star,” during UpSkill Houston’s August 7 Executive Committee meeting to guide the focus of UpSkill Houston as it moves into its next five years of work.
UpSkill Houston is widely recognized as the regional convening body for different industries and business, education, and community-based sectors working together to bridge the region’s people gap and skills gap. BCG recommended it become a catalyst for change in its next phase of work.
BCG described how UpSkill Houston could achieve this shift and work toward a proposed goal of advancing 500,000 people along an attract-train-place spectrum for careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree for entry.
BCG identified areas in which UpSkill Houston could become a leader to affect change:
UpSkill and its stakeholder-partners can influence and enhance how counselors shape better career guidance and how employers frame job postings and connect with the right community colleges or programs to find skilled talent. And, although UpSkill may not be able to change national sentiment and dialogue around skills and careers that don’t require a four-year degree, it and its stakeholder-partners, some of which have a national presence, can set the tone for and elevate those conversations.
BCG also focused on how UpSkill can spearhead data and analytics efforts to scale existing programs that are working through program design and playbooks, support evidence-based policy through outcome data, and continue its role as a regional convener with a broader partner base.
Labor market data show roughly 1 million targeted jobs in our regional economy, with a projected growth of 5 percent over the next five years. Currently, up to about 40 percent of the ‘existing workforce’ lacks education beyond high school, and up to 75 percent of the ‘incoming workforce’ may lack the required education or skills to meet the demands of these good jobs.
BCG presented how it arrived at the 500,000 Houstonians through the following suggested targets:
BCG began working with UpSkill Houston this spring to identify how to scale and accelerate the momentum the initiative has built as a convener since its 2014 launch. TEConomy Partners, a second firm working with UpSkill, is gathering labor market data to inform areas of greatest workforce supply and demand, along with identify pathways to good jobs in Houston’s economy.
Executive Committee Chair Dan Gilbane is scheduled to address the Greater Houston Partnership’s Board of Directors in October. Following that session, UpSkill plans to formally present plans for accelerating its momentum over the coming five-year period.
In the meantime, Peter Beard, GHP’s senior vice president, Regional Work Force Development, will meet with key UpSkill partners representing K-12 and higher education systems, community-based service organizations, and the public workforce system to discuss aspects of the proposed goals.