Houston, We Have A Problem
Nationally, 17% of individuals age 16 to 24 are disconnected from school and employment. There are an estimated 115,000 disconnected youth in the Houston metro area alone. Without access to opportunities to participate in the economy and community, these individuals are at higher risk of involvement in illegal activities, incarceration, and relying on public assistance. In 2014, there were 1.4 million middle-skills jobs in the Houston area, and this number is projected to continue growing by 74,000 jobs annually. The need for middle-skill workers is especially significant in the health care and technology industries and in construction (particularly after Hurricane Harvey).
The SERJobs Approach
In order to address the needs of our community, both now and in the future, SER has launched its Investing in the Future Capital Campaign. Central to this $11 million effort is the creation of SER’s Workforce Training Center (WTC), which will provide critical space for hands-on training and economic mobility for our neighbors in need of opportunity. The full WTC project will consist of acquiring 2.17 acres located approximately 1,000 feet behind SERJobs’ current facility, to construct a new 20,000sf, 1.5 story, metal-style warehouse training building with eight education classrooms, three hands-on training labs (1,500sf each), and office space. The building will be equipped with the necessary training equipment needed to provide hands-on experience.
The acquisition and construction project (Workforce Training Center) will be owned, operated, maintained, and managed by SERJobs. Within the new Workforce Training Center, SERJobs will launch and expand training for disaster recovery areas of the construction trades, and develop new training tracks based on labor market demands!
Invest In The Future, Protect The Community
Prior to Hurricane Harvey, SERJobs had a trained pool of skilled carpenters, construction and transportation workers that became third responders in the disaster recovery efforts. Once disaster recovery efforts were underway, SERJobs received an order for over 400 skilled workers for Harvey relief efforts. SERJobs responded and immediately adapted training programs to better fit the community needs through tailored trainings for construction, drywall, roofing, welding and infrastructure. Within a few months after Hurricane Harvey, SER jobs was able to train hundreds of candidates to assist in the disaster recovery efforts. While SERJobs was able to broaden and diversify training offerings to better fit the needs of the community after Hurricane Harvey, the organization faced challenges to meet the needs with minimal resources and space. The impact of the Hurricane clearly demonstrated SER’s ability to provide the necessary skilled workers to respond to the large demand. If the WTC had been there, then additional hundreds of workers could have been trained and dispatched into the relief work on an ongoing basis immediately. This center serves as a net positive to the Houston community, training our third-line of defense during disaster relief and uplifting community members with barriers to career opportunities.