Strengthening Dallas-Fort Worth,” a skills gap report by JPMorgan Chase & Co. about the region, indicates DFW “ranks among the top three U.S. metro areas for business expansions, relocations and employment growth.” Growth is projected to continue through 2023.
The report stated that middle-skill jobs—those which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree—comprise 29 percent of jobs in the region. However, some area employers report difficulty in filling high-demand jobs and finding qualified applicants. For example, middle-skill healthcare jobs are taking up to 50 percent longer to fill than the regional average for open positions.
According to the report, the trend suggests the skills gap in DFW labor market would present challenges over the long term “if the region does not expand its talent pipeline for middleskill occupations.”
In December 2013, JPMorgan Chase launched New Skills at Work, a $250 million global initiative that aims to prepare youth and adults for careers in high-demand, middle-skill occupations. Because the organization recognizes the important role community colleges play in equipping the work force and offering value-added skills training to help students earn competitive wages, TCC is included in this initiative.
In total, JPMorgan Chase has issued $320,000 in grants to TCC since 2012, with funding used for Adult Education, which includes basic literacy English language acquisition/ESL instruction, high school equivalency/GED preparation and test completion, college and workforce training. TCC used the most recent grant of $125,000 for Workforce Initiatives, a program to recruit Adult Education completers interested in pursuing career pathway training.
“The goal is to provide training that will not only allow students to obtain a job, but also to enter a career pathway that will allow for upward mobility,” said Jill Jorgensen, CE grants administrator in TCC’s Community & Industry Education Services.
Career pathways selected are based on job market data from Tarrant County Workforce Solutions and relationships with various TCC departments, such as Corporate Solutions & Economic Development, have with area employers and agencies. Currently, training is being offered for industrial maintenance and medical office personnel.
Accelerated training provides opportunities for immediate placement. Companies looking to hire include MillerCoors, Ben E. Keith, Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin, Trinity Industries, Community Health Services at Hill Regional Hospital, Cook Children’s Health Care System and Dental Health Arlington.
“This commitment means more people will get better jobs, helping them provide a better life for their families. It means our businesses will have the supply of skilled workers they need to grow,” said Michelle Thomas, JPMorgan Chase & Co. vice president, relationship manager southwest region, global philanthropy. “Innovative public-private initiatives like this have the power to make our economy stronger and more inclusive.”
Thanks to the grants received over the past two years, more than 100 students in the Workforce Initiatives Training program have received tuition assistance. The most recent grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. will allow 80 more students to receive training.
“TCC is very thankful for the financial support received from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and excited about continuing this relationship,” said Larry Anderson, director of Workforce Services. “On several occasions I have received feedback from one of these students (who has gone through training) with positive stories of continued growth and success. And that is what I call a win-win for JPMorgan Chase & Co., TCC and the community.”