A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

New Center for Workforce Training and Employment Organization Planned for Next Year

SER-Jobs for Progress (SER) is expanding its operations in Houston, bringing new occupational training opportunities to low-income individuals in the area and providing employers with a new pipeline for recruiting skilled workers.

SER, a local non-profit organization specializing in workforce development, is renovating a property at 1710 Telephone Road in Houston’s East End to create the agency’s new Workforce Opportunity Center.

“We want to create a community hub where residents can access education, training, support services, and jobs,” said SER CEO Nory Angel.  “It will also be a place where employers can recruit, interview, and hire candidates by partnering with our team to help meet their business’ workforce needs.”

The new campus will double SER’s existing classroom space for courses ranging from life skills, financial education, and career readiness, to healthy relationships, GED preparation, and computer skills.  Additionally, the 30,000 square foot warehouse adjacent to the campus’ main building will enable SER to create training labs for specific careers like construction, welding, healthcare, and others.  SER is seeking employer partners to provide insight and guidance on the needs of high-demand industries to help create curriculum to be delivered in the new center that meets the needs of local businesses.

According to a report by JP Morgan Chase, nearly half of all jobs in the United States economy are middle-skills jobs, or “jobs that require a high school diploma and some postsecondary education and training, but not a bachelor’s degree.”  These jobs pay livable wages and can be found across industries, including the booming construction, healthcare, and technology fields in Houston.

“Employer partnerships are absolutely critical to ensuring the success of our constituents,” said Angel.  “We know there is a gap between the skills and qualifications companies are looking for in employees and what Houston’s current workforce has.  We want to help bridge that gap to help people who need jobs the most to succeed in middle-skills careers so they can support their families – but this is only possible with the insight, consideration, and input of our employer partners.”

Middle-skills jobs comprised 1.4 million jobs in Houston in 2014 with the projected growth of 74,000 additional middle-skills jobs being created annually through 2017.  Much like the country overall, Houston is facing a severe shortage of workers with the skills and credentials to fill these positions.  2013 data demonstrates that among Houstonians aged 25 and older, 855,000 lacked the minimum credentials for this type of employment, with 21% of Houstonians lacking a high school diploma or equivalency.

SER currently serves approximately 4,000 individuals annually from age 16 through senior citizens with specialized services for veterans, returning citizens, elders, and youth/young adults.  At the new center, SER intends to expand its work with youth by featuring a meeting spot for young adults to be productive and obtain much-needed adult and peer support, occupational training, paid internships, and mentoring on their path to re-engagement with school, higher education, and careers.

The new Center is projected to be completed in Fall 2017.  Once completed, SER will be able to gradually increase the number of individuals served, with an eventual growth to 8,000 individuals annually by 2020.

At the new Center, clients and community residents will enter into a “career café” where they will have access to healthy foods and beverages, as well as resources to conduct their own self-directed job search via internet-enabled computers, labor market information, and opportunities to interview with local employers.  The Career Café will also serve as a training ground for local youth, seniors, and other clients who will gain hands-on experience in the café by managing daily operations and service delivery.  SER envisions that the café will become a hub for the community to gather and meet, as well a venue for local employers to interview potential employees in a relaxed, open environment.

“Education and job training are invaluable tools needed by individuals to help lift themselves out of poverty, earn living-wages, and build productive lives,” said Angel.  “SER and its employer partners play a pivotal role in the community by providing these services to some of the most at-risk and in-need individuals in Houston.”