Texas is an economic powerhouse. For decades, we’ve experienced strong economic growth and increased incomes for many Texas families. We’ve attracted a large workforce, built an infrastructure that has supported economic expansion, supported a business-friendly tax and regulatory environment, and taken advantage of our vast natural resources and an enviable geographic location. The result? Texas now boasts the 9th largest economy in the world.
And the secret is out. Texas is experiencing a boom in population and business relocations as people from across the country come here seeking to improve their economic opportunity and quality of life. In fact, by 2036, 10 million more people will call Texas home. We need to be ready.
As our founder, Tom Luce, noted at a recent Texas Economic Development Council conference, technology is rapidly changing our world. And soon, three out of every four jobs will require a postsecondary credential. But, today, two-thirds of Texas students do not complete a postsecondary credential of any kind — a degree or certificate – within six years of high school. Legislation passed this year will help close this gap.
To advance workforce development policies, Texas 2036 co-founded and co-leads Aim Hire Texas, a statewide coalition of employers, nonprofit organizations, and education and training providers working to improve our state’s education and workforce pipelines. Over the course of the session, Aim Hire Texas grew from 7 original partners to 40 organizations across the state. This coalition played a pivotal role in developing and supporting House Bill 3767, by Rep. Murphy and Sen. Bettencourt, as well as other key workforce-related bills.
Education and Workforce Alignment
House Bill 3767 formalizes in statute the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, an effort created by Governor Abbott in 2016 to improve collaboration among the state’s three primary education and workforce agencies, ensuring taxpayer dollars were being efficiently utilized. This bill builds on past successes of the Tri-Agency, and directs the TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to identify shared workforce goals and strategies while also allowing for improvements in data quality and integration. Through statewide workforce goals, shared agency strategies, and allowing for data improvements, HB 3767 will prompt closer alignment of education and workforce programs in Texas to regional workforce demands.
Senate Bill 1102, by Sen. Creighton and Rep. Parker, establishes the Texas Reskilling and Upskilling Through Education (TRUE) grant program, which incentivizes community and technical colleges to partner with the private sector to develop high-value reskilling and upskilling programs. Given the number of workers who have been displaced due to the COVID pandemic, Texas will need to quickly create and scale short-term credentialing and training programs that are aligned to regional workforce needs. SB 1102 creates an effective structure in which Texas postsecondary institutions can collaborate with local industry to offer exactly the type of short-term, workforce-aligned credentials that will help unemployed or struggling Texans attain good-paying jobs.
House Bill 4361, by Rep. Raney and Sen. Bettencourt, allows any Texas college or university to offer a workforce training program requested by employers if the local college does not offer it, and House Bill 33, by Rep. Dominguez and Sen. Zaffirini, makes it easier for veterans to attain postsecondary credit for skills they learned in the military.
House Bill 1247, by Rep. Lozano and Sen. Powell, directs the TEA, THECB, and TWC to jointly develop a strategic framework for high-quality work-based learning (internships, apprenticeships) in Texas. This bill lays the groundwork for stronger program transparency, evaluation, and effectiveness, and ultimately ensures that more Texans have access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities.
Senate Bill 788, by Sen. Creighton and Rep. Howard, directs the TEA, THECB, and TWC to develop model, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)-compliant data sharing templates. Strong data sharing agreements enable personalized, proactive student support mechanisms, as adults supporting the same student have the access to the same, accurate, timely information. Texas 2036 engaged and provided feedback early on in the development of this policy and supported its journey through the Legislature.
By passing these bills, Texas lawmakers made real progress on workforce development this year. These six bills will significantly improve Texas employers’ access to a skilled labor force and increase the likelihood that Texans of all backgrounds can earn a living wage. At Texas 2036, we look forward to continuing to work with our partners at Aim Hire Texas, state officials, and you to ensure that our economy continues to grow and all Texans have an opportunity to succeed.