November 20, 2019
Over the summer and fall, employers from Greater Houston's transportation and heavy equipment industries convened as UpSkill Houston's newest employer-led sector council focused on the critical need for technicians and mechanics.
This new Transportation Sector Council, led by employees of Gulf States Toyota, Group 1 Automotive, Mustang Caterpillar, and Metro, recognized early on that they faced similar challenges. Pipelines for roles in high demand, such as automotive technician and diesel mechanic, simply weren’t producing a skilled workforce large enough to fit the need. The group set a goal of working cohesively to solve the issues facing them all.
Forces like the evolving nature of work along with population shifts have decreased talent pools across several industries. The transportation sector follows the petrochemical manufacturing sector and the commercial and industrial construction sector in convening under the auspices of UpSkill Houston with the overarching goal of strengthening pipelines to attract, train, place, and retain good talent. The healthcare sector is currently in the process of organizing its own council, as well.
The Transportation Sector Council, which includes employers as well as industry-based educational associations, began its work by identifying three focus areas: how to access a qualified and skilled applicant pool; what it takes to get new hires to full productivity; and, how to grow and retain employees in the industry.
Now, the Council has turned its efforts toward assessing industry demand and talent sources, which will help inform strategies to achieve its goal.
Quantifying industry demand
Going forward, the Council plans to define, as accurately as possible, the size of the talent pool employers will require over the next three to five years. In 2020, the Council plans to develop a demand survey for sector employers survey and pilot it with industry stakeholders.
Articulating job competencies
The Council has begun identifying competencies essential to the success of an entry-level worker in automotive and heavy equipment distribution and manufacturing fields. Listing traits of a successful entry level candidates will ultimately help those involved in the hiring process review and, if necessary, adjust requirements for workers entering these roles.
Strengthening the industry’s primary talent sources
The Council seeks to strengthen the education and training programs throughout the region with technical assistance from the Automotive Services Excellence (ASE) Education Foundation, which traditionally supports high school and college programs in accrediting their automotive programs. It wants to work with these institutions to ensure there are high performing programs in the region that serve the students and the industry. It will also assist those that want to improve or become accredited.
Mentoring its workforce
Another Council objective is to consider how to build or support robust mentorship programs. Council members recognize that mentoring new or incumbent employees can help workers remain within a company or industry and can decrease the attrition of workers who lack strong support systems of their own.
Expanding the table
Finally, in 2020, the Council looks to hold an industry summit and grow its membership with more employers; industry associations and accreditation organizations; school districts, technical schools, and colleges; manufacturers, suppliers, and dealers; and local governments and the Gulf Coast workforce board.
This is a tremendous opportunity for business to provide leadership and develop strong partnerships with education, and community leaders to address issues that affect the bottom line and opportunities for residents to enter careers within Greater Houston’s critical transportation and heavy equipment industries.
If you are up for helping to cultivate talent in this sector, reach out to UpSkill Houston at firstname.lastname@example.org.