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Private Sector Taking Charge in Workforce Development

Thursday, April 23, 2015

In the Houston area, Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. needs to fill 3,000 positions in the next few years. Many of these positions offer great benefits, and some come with six-figure salaries. However, the company is having a problem finding qualified applicants to fill these positions. In terms of numbers, the local economy expanded by 38 percent since 2005, yet the poverty rate rose to 16.4 percent during the same period. The company’s solution to the growing skills gap is to offer a scholarship program that covers community-college tuition and pays interns approximately $18 an hour to work in the chemical facility. Chevron Phillips is just one of many large companies spending millions to train their own labor forces in the face of a talent pool that is unprepared to fill the jobs these companies are rapidly creating. The mismatch between the highly specialized technical training required to work these jobs and what the local academies, universities, and vocational schools can offer has prompted the private sector to take an active role in workforce development, the notion being that if the talent isn't there, the industry that needs it can create it.

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