Virtual Learning: Solution to Meeting Workforce Challenges

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Is virtual learning one of the solutions to meeting Texas’ workforce challenges?

Find out in our three-part summary from Texas 2036 testimony to the Texas Commission on Virtual Education.

A teacher points to the screen on a tablet while six students sit around a desk while they utilize virtual education.. One student is using a laptop.

The Players 💼 : Created by the Legislature last session, the Texas Commission on Virtual Education is charged with developing and making recommendations for virtual education in the public school system.

Water Cooler Talk 🗣️ We know Texas is facing significant challenges in the labor market. Lesser-known is that it’s driven in part by a lack of postsecondary credentials, such as degrees or workforce-aligned certifications.

  • Texas continues to create more jobs than the rest of the nation but many require skills that aren’t readily found in our workforce. This led us to having more jobs available than there are people to fill them.
  • For the past few decades, Texas has relied on domestic migration to meet its workforce needs, with newcomers having twice the number of bachelor’s degrees compared to native Texans.

Texans in Need 🏠: The number of good-paying jobs held by Texans with a high school diploma, GED or below has plummeted. These days you need a postsecondary credential to earn a family-sustaining wage.

By the Numbers 📈: COVID learning loss rocked our nation. In Texas, our challenges began building well before the pandemic hit due to leaks in our education-to-workforce pipeline:

  • 90%: The amount of Texas high school students who graduate in four years
  • 63%: Of those graduates, just over half are college or career ready
  • 26%: Within six years of graduation, less than one-third of young folks attain a postsecondary credential

📌 By 2030, 62% of jobs will require education and skills beyond high school.

Fixing the Leaks 🛠: Students should graduate ready for the workforce on Day 1. We prepare them by offering more career training in high school. Virtual education provides immediate access to high-value coursework for students across the state at a much lower cost to districts.

What Is Virtual Learning?

What you’re probably thinking … all day Zoom classes, elementary kids struggling to sit still in their parents’ office chairs, teachers looking for new ways to keep their screen-fatigued students engaged.

Imagine instead … students having access to classes they otherwise wouldn’t get to take — AP courses for high schoolers, Algebra I for 8th graders, apprenticeships programs for all grades.

Who benefits … our entire state, especially rural Texans who we can reach thanks to broadband. Virtual learning can help solve existing equity challenges throughout our school system.

A young girl is in a virtual class on her a desktop computer in her room. Part I – Texas Workforce Challenges: How Virtual Learning Can Help 📚

Employers can’t find qualified workers to fill the jobs they need to grow their businesses. Virtual learning is one solution to help solve this.

Keep reading.

Two young girls tinker with robotics in a classroom with the help of a virtual teacher. Part II – Texas Education & Workforce: Meeting Future Needs 👩🏻‍🏭

What action has the state taken so far? How can the Texas Commission on Virtual Education build on recent successes to better meet future workforce needs?

Find out.

Four young men are kneeled down on the a track and field while dressed in graduation robes. Part III – Texas College & Career Readiness: Role Virtual Learning Plays 🎓

Texas 2036 offers a three-pronged approach to leverage virtual education to increase college and career readiness.

Learn more.

Texas 2036 Testimony 🎥: Texas Commission on Virtual Education

Texas 2036 Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy John Hryhorchuk sits before the Texas Commission on Virtual Education in the State Capitol.

Press Play ▶️: Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy John Hryhorchuk testifies before the Texas Commission on Virtual Education.

Watch it.

Join the conversation:

What class wasn’t offered in your school — or your child’s — that would have helped prepare you for college or the workforce? 

Last week we asked what’s the most important issue facing Texas as we approach 2036. Education & Workforce Development leads. See the results.