AUSTIN ⎯ The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) awarded five individual Texas Workforce Development Boards for future excellence in innovation during the 24th annual Texas Workforce Conference in Houston. Northeast Texas, South Texas, Gulf Coast, East Texas and North Texas Workforce Development Boards each received a $200,000 award. These funds will allow each board to create permanent programs, building upon some best innovative practices initiated and implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These awards recognize the importance of providing excellent customer service at a time when Texans needed our services the most,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “The spirit of innovation our boards display every day helps to strengthen the Texas economy.”
The Texas Workforce Board System consists of 28 boards appointed by local officials and charged with planning and oversight responsibilities for workforce programs and services in their area. These boards allow for localized strategies to develop the workforce of Texas.
“Texans rely on our workforce development centers for jobs services and training,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez. “We continue to see creative solutions to help Texans impacted return to work quickly. These five boards are leaders in creating innovative solutions to leverage the technology of tomorrow to help the workers of today.”
All of the state’s workforce development boards faced certain challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of shutdowns, social distancing and the need to operate virtually, workforce boards across the state developed innovative approaches to adapt to the pandemic. The awards recognize that while all boards did amazing work, in terms of innovation, some exceptional programs were worthy of recognition.
“Texas employers are bouncing back and a large part of that success is attributed to our local level Workforce Solutions teams who have never stopped working for Texas,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “I want to thank all 28 Workforce Development Boards — and congratulate these five in particular — on their outstanding and cutting-edge efforts to keep Texas’ economy strong.”
Awardees and their projects include:
- Workforce Solutions for South Texas planned and designed a customized, unique workforce virtual station equipped with a state-of-the-art study carrel, a personal computer, camera, microphone, printer, scanner, headphone, and telephone. The station also included auxiliary aids and services specifically for individuals with disabilities.
- Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas contracted with a video production company during the pandemic to create and provide virtual workshops for the public. Due to the success of this venture, the board now plans to use these funds to purchase the equipment and software necessary to create high quality videos, including live videos, to focus on various aspects of workforce development. These videos will be created on an ongoing basis and are anticipated to increase the scope and geographical areas that can deliver workforce services to the public.
- Workforce Solutions Gulf Coast will utilize TWC funds to develop a weekly 30-minute informational talk-show called, Your Career, Your Choice. This talk show is in addition to the already robust digital and multimedia platforms currently used by the board and will consist of in-studio interviews, on-location interactions, and pre-recorded snippets that share advice, and which will help an individual in their job search.
- Workforce Solutions East Texas will launch a program, Rural, Set, Go!, to engage community and business leaders, as well as the broader community in candid conversations about the factors that influence their local workforce and economic development needs, particularly in demand skills as identified by employers.
- Workforce Solutions North Texas will use these funds in a two-pronged approach to expand their service delivery area to rural communities. The board will place workforce stations in local libraries with video capabilities to help workers participate in virtual interviews. The board will also assist child care centers with obtaining updated technology to increase their ability to move into a more efficient business model, which will further translate into better quality care for the children in those centers.