A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Packaged Correctly, HISD Bond Initiative Could Create Real Opportunities for Voters

Houston, Texas is on track to have many more well paying job openings with secure futures and stability.  At least, that can be the case if we start developing our workforce to meet the upcoming demand for skilled trade construction workers.  That demand will be increased if the Houston Independent School District’s (HISD) $1.89 billion bond initiative is passed in this November’s crucial election.

More than “green-collar” jobs, and just as much as nursing, these “blue-collar” positions are going to boom no matter what else goes bust.  These careers are the kind that can never be out-sourced, are always going to be needed, and offer practitioners the income and advancement lacking in many “white-collar” environments (just compare the wages and benefits packages for a journeyman plumber against those of recent college graduates).  The best way to help our students capitalize on this trend is to start training them with the interests and aptitude for building trades beginning as early as elementary school.

How long do you think it takes to become a master carpenter, electrician, plumber, mason, draftsman, or site manager?  These are not professions that can be learned overnight.  More importantly, what will we do over the next 20 years as more than a fifth of these skilled workers retire?

The bond initiative provides students, their families and the communities surrounding the designated schools a rare opportunity to prepare HISD students for real careers in the construction industry.  As HISD and its supporters make their pitch to voters, keep in mind that almost every high school in the district will either be up-graded, renovated, or built anew from the ground up, completing the trifecta of school renovations which began in 1997 bond initiatives for rebuilding district elementary schools.

Looking forward, imagine if we take just the smallest drop of that funding and channel it towards developing a district-wide construction career program.  We will have the curriculum, the students, and the hands-on real world work experience to give our youth, their families, and their communities a tremendous employment advantage in a competitive recovering economy.

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium released a study indicating that students who receive hands-on construction training education (CTE) are able to comprehend math, science and computer skills faster and are provided an excellent opportunity to implement self-discipline, motivation, time management, and how to solve real-world problems better than those who do not participate in such programs.  It also found that four out of five CTE graduates are likely to pursue post-secondary education immediately after high school.

Many HISD supporters would like HISD to adopt a local-hire provision where graduated students, local residents, and seasoned construction workers from the community are hired at competitive wage rates on all bond-funded projects.  If HISD successfully secures the bond money they seek, implements a district-wide CTE program, and institutes a local-hire provision on these projects, HISD bond-funded schools will become economic engines fueling the local economy.

Houston, all of this is so tantalizing close.  With one well organized and well executed Bond Program we can provide the jobs so desperately needed in our city.

Get the facts.  Before voting, contact your local HISD school board representatives and administrators to ensure these provisions are placed as conditions for the bond initiative.  Then, vote your conscience.

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