Space and flying cars in Texas: The future is now!

This is a preview of ourΒ Texas 2036 newsletter about making prudent investments in government performance. To receive this weekly highlight of our work,Β sign up here.

This week’s newsletter peers over the horizon at the emerging, high-demand jobs that will power Texas’ future.

Space, doing it bigger in Texas 🌌

The commercial space sector is already here. And observers forecast that it will continue growing in size, becoming a $1 trillion industry by 2040.

Here’s what you need to know: The Legislature is laying the groundwork now for how to prepare the state to continue its leadership in aerospace and space exploration.

House Bill 3447 by state Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, and Senate Bill 1652 by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, aim to tackle that challenge by establishing the following:

  • Texas Space Commission
  • Aerospace Research and Space Economy Consortium

Why it matters: Taken together, these two bodies will coordinate to promote research and provide financial tools to promote commercial space activity.

$350 million: The amount that House and Senate budget writers included in their respective base budget bills for the establishment of the Space Commission.

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Texas 2036 Policy Analyst Mitrah Avini testified last week in House State Affairs in support of HB 3447.

What she said: “The establishment of the Texas Space Commission is a critical step in providing the resources, government cooperation and workforce necessary to make Texas the center of the rapidly growing space industry.”

$9.3 billion: The economic output of the Texas space industry in fiscal year 2021.

πŸ‘‡View Mitrah’s testimony below:

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Training the next generation of Texas space workers

By the Numbers:

10%: The portion of the country’s space sector jobs held by Texans.
$98,482: The average annual wage in Texas for the space sector.
If Texas intends to continue as a leader in the sector, workforce development will be key.

San Jacinto College’s Aerospace Program represents a pioneering attempt to develop the next generation of aerospace workers, equipping them with the workforce credentials that will give them a leg up in starting a career in the sector.

Providing β€œhands-on experience in electrical, design, manufacturing, operating and maintenance tracks,” the program’s areas of focus include:

  • Aerospace Composite Manufacturing Technician
  • Aerospace Electrical and Electronics Technician
  • Aerospace Quality Technician
  • Aerospace Structures Technician
  • Drone Pilot

The lookahead: Efforts to promote workforce credentials would be boosted with passage of the session’s community college finance bill. HB 8/SB 2539 could be up for debate as early as next week.

Filling workforce gaps through apprenticeships πŸ§‘β€πŸ­

The growing aerospace industry is an example of an emergent, high-demand field that will need to access a quality workforce. Apprenticeship programs are another valuable tool to prepare a future workforce for this and other careers of the future.

HB 4451 by Rep. Salman Bhojani, D-Euless, calls on the Texas Workforce Commission to coordinate with the state’s 28 local workforce development boards on an annual legislative report that aims to expand the availability of apprenticeship programs in emerging and high-demand Texas industries. This annual report will include data on:

  • apprenticeship programs categorized by industry;
  • total numbers of apprentices categorized by industry; and
  • occupational demand for each Texas industry.

Texas 2036 Policy Advisor Renzo Soto testified for the bill, which was heard in the House International Relations & Economic Development Committee on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Texas is second-to-last among its peer states in the number of active apprentices as a percentage of the total state labor force.

What Renzo said: “With more than 70% of Texas jobs requiring some postsecondary education or training by 2036, apprenticeships have a dual positive impact in providing Texans with an opportunity to learn skills important to employers while employers can fill open jobs with apprentices.”

How does Texas stack up when it comes to apprenticeships? πŸ‘‡

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Flying cars: The future is here 🚘

The House and Senate both heard bills on Wednesday (SB 2144/HB 2678) establishing an Advanced Air Mobility Advisory Committee to help develop a statewide plan to address implementation of this emerging technology.

  • The committee is a continuation of the work begun last session on urban air mobility.

The future of flying cars is closer than you might think. Research is already underway at the University of North Texas with the aim of making unmanned air taxis and ambulances a possibility in the β€œnear future.”

Want to know more? Take a look at this report from KXAS-TV in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex: University of North Texas Making Flying Cars Possible

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Did you know? April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month πŸ”’

For the state to supply the workforce for these emerging, high-demand fields that we’ve discussed above, Texas’ schoolchildren need the requisite math skills.

Readiness report newsletter graphic

Our recent student readiness report β€” published in partnership with the George W. Bush Institute β€” highlights the work to be done to get students on grade level.

Read more: Student readiness: What assessments tell us

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When do you think flying cars will be a reality in Texas?

Tell us.

House Budget Night: A Texas 2036 Guide

The Texas House will debate the budget bill tomorrow, beginning in the morning and continuing deep into the night.

Our budget savant Rahul Sreenivasan has prepared a primer to get you informed and to see you safely through the hours of floor debate.

Read more: House budget night is here: What you need to know