NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 10, 2008

The Texas education system needs to be market-driven, says Tom Pauken, chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission.

Texas has been successful in job creation and attracting companies in recent years. One area where we need to show more progress, however, is in aligning career and technology education with what is needed in the workforce.  For example:

  • In the 1950s, some 60 percent of jobs could be filled with unskilled workers.
  • Today, 80 percent of high-growth, high-demand jobs require some education beyond high school.

It's important for parents and guidance counselors to understand what jobs are begin created and what potential career pathways exist, including good options that require fewer than four years of college. 

Gov. Rick Perry has taken steps to address this situation.  One of his major economic initiatives is the Texas Energy Cluster:

  • It encourages skills training for good-paying jobs in the following areas: oil and gas exploration and production, power generation, mining, power transmission, and renewable energy sources.
  • The cluster added 85,456 jobs from 2004 to 2007.
  • However, since many technical professionals in the cluster are approaching retirement, the energy industry will lose as much as half of its professional talent over the next five to ten years.

We must align career and technology education with what is needed in the workforce, says Pauken.  Otherwise, Texas will not be able to achieve the vast potential of the Texas Energy Cluster or other high-growth sectors.  To make the best use of our state resources, our education system should shift to one that is more market driven and takes into account the skills needed by employers. 

Source: Tom Pauken, "Students Not Learning What They Need To," Dallas Morning News, June 9, 2008.


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