Workforce Readiness



Jerry Henry, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Workforce Readiness Director

Building Talent Pipelines…… Aligning education, workforce & economic development by Terri Kurtz, Texas SHRM Workforce Readiness Director

The changing skill demands of the US Economy are leading to a job polarization in the US labor market.  Texas workforce is not keeping up with the international competition.  The solution is the creation of talent development pipelines that align education, workforce & economic development programs and systems.

Our nation is experiencing “the vanishing middle” phenomenon where traditional middle-skill occupations in which workers perform routine tasks that are procedural and repetitive are being replaced with automation.  This leaves only our high-skilled occupations including workers with analytical ability, problem solving and creativity skills and to the other extreme our low-skill occupations which includes workers who perform service oriented and manually intensive labor.  From 1985 to 2009 the traditional middle-skill occupations have dropped from 59% to 45% respectively, while the high-skill and low-skill occupations have increased. 

We are seeing a change in what makes up the occupation levels currently.  From 1965 to 2015 there has been an increase from 13% to 35% of those obtaining a bachelors’ degree or higher – thus redefining the high-skill occupations category.  The new middle-skill occupation category now includes those with an associates’ degree or certification with labor market value. These individuals have grown from 10% to 28% since 1965 to 2015.  And finally, the low-skill occupation category with workers who have no formal education beyond high school has significantly decreased from 77% in 1965 to 36% in 2015.  This reflects an increasing need for higher education in our current economy or the ability to assess skills and prior learning to determine equivalent degree level.

Key findings from the OECD Survey of adult skills & competencies reflect that the United States is falling behind other countries in both numeracy and literacy skills.  We also fall below 50% with percent of adults with an associates’ degree or higher as compared to other countries and Texas is even lower is due to many educational attainment disparities that persist across Texas regions.

The key is to align education, workforce and economic development by creating industry clusters through guided pathway systems.  The goal is to first have linked and aligned programs that have well-connected education, training and support services informed by employer needs.  Secondly, to have multiple entry points, or on-ramps including for those with limited education, English skills, and work experiences, (i.e., bridge programs). And finally, multiple exit points at successively higher levels of family supporting employment and aligned with subsequent entry points.

The industry cluster partnerships would include community partners such as K-12, community colleges, universities, adult basic education, community-based organizations, economic development organizations and workforce solutions.  When these partnerships are all around the business table the outcomes for businesses are that 41% report reductions in turnover and 84% report increase in productivity.  The outcomes for workers are that 48% worker participants exit poverty and 18% reported higher income earnings.

To be successful these high-quality sector partnerships must be:

  • Employer driven
  • Convened by a credible third party
  • Act as a coordinating body across multiple programs
  • Create highly customized responses to industry and jobseeker needs; and
  • Cross geopolitical boundaries to focus on regional labor markets

A quote from Allatia Harris, Vice Chancellor of Strategic Initiatives in the San Jacinto Community college district and part of the East Harris County Manufacturers Association, states, “This approach to working with industry is different than how we’ve done it our entire career, and it’s working.”

Another successful partnership is the West Texas Energy Consortium.

For more information on building a talent pipeline or to bring this presentation to your local SHRM chapter please contact, Garrett C. Groves with the Center for Public Policy Priorities at 512-823-2879 or


The 2017 SHRM Regional Council Business Meeting took place February 10 – 11, 2017 in San Diego, CA.    The core leadership area represented this year was Workforce Readiness.  Below is a summary of what is to come.  In the area of Workforce Readiness the focus was on closing the skills gap.  Five different initiatives were presented to assist the state leaders and local chapters to close the skills gap that US is currently facing.  These five initiatives were:

  1. The SHRM’s Foundation Aging Workforce initiative
  2. Jobs for America’s Grads (JAG)
  3. Innovate+Educate
  4. Junior Achievement USA (JA)
  5. DOL’s Apprenticeship program

Texas State Council’s Workforce Readiness Director plans to partner with SHRM in their Aging Workforce Initiative.  SHRM has partnered with AARP and is making available to us the Effective Practice Guidelines Series, Leveraging the Value of an Age-Diverse Workforce executive briefing, and the Challenge of becoming an Aging Workforce Partner with the SHRM Foundation through five simple steps that will be made available through our Texas Initiative.  You may access the SHRM Foundations Aging Workforce resources via the below link –

The SHRM Foundation’s new strategy for 2017 is based on SHRM membership input.  What they found, based on their survey results, is that SHRM members want to make a difference; they want a “caused” based institution that impacts their communities.  With this new focus SHRM Foundation has recently published their Inclusion Issues Timeline from now through 2022.  You may access this timeline on the SHRM Foundation’s website at –

Texas SHRM will also launch their Operation Direct Connect in 2017.  This is a multifaceted veterans’ initiative that not only connects the employer to the transitioning soldier but also considers the employment, health, and wellbeing needs of the whole military family.  This project is in its planning stages but Texas SHRM and AHRMA has partnered with Fort Hood to raise employer awareness of the military skills and work-life on base called Army 101: Corporate Recruiting and the Army Culture.  This is part of an even larger program called Soldier for Life: Transition Assistance Program (TAP). As a whole, we are interested in providing this military recruitment program to our chapters, communities, and employers.  Watch for more on this initiative in the weeks to come. 

We will also continue to promote the Centurion Military Alliance initiative that chapters are welcome to participate in.  SAHRMA, Williamson County HRMA, and El Paso SHRM have successful programs underway.  For more details please contact Kitty Meyers, Workforce Readiness CLA Director for SAHRMA at 210-355-6244 or or contact CMA directly via their website at


Workforce Readiness is a vital part of developing our future workforce. It involves working with our communities, school districts and colleges to prepare individuals for the world of work. Workforce Readiness Initiatives can help you to:
• Gather information about local activities and programs
• Partner with educational and community organizations
• Facilitate student job shadowing opportunities
• Help your local businesses become military Ready Employers
• Gain the tools need to be a When Work Works Community

The link below provides resources from the National SHRM website. 
Homepage for the Workforce Readiness Core Leadership Area

Available Workforce Readiness CLA Seminars – hosted by SHRM

Wednesday, May 17, @ 4 p.m. ET
Wednesday, Aug. 16, @ 4 p.m. ET
Tuesday, Nov. 14, @ 4 p.m. ET

Welcome Terri Kurtz, Texas SHRM Director of Workforce Readiness. Terri is the Executive Director of Human Resources for Victoria College in Victoria, Texas. She is the 2017 Workforce Readiness Director for Texas SHRM, is Past President for South Texas SHRM and serves on the Board of the Texas Association of Community Colleges Human Resources Professionals (TACCHRP). Terri has been in HR for more than 20 years and conducts training on Staff and Organizational Development, Customer Service, Supervisory Skills, Motivation and Leadership. Additionally, she is highly involved with many local non-profit organizations. Terri is a graduate of Texas A&M with a BBA in in Human Resources Mgmt.

If you have any questions regarding Workforce Readiness I am happy to help. You may reach me at or 361-572-6463.

For your review and information, below please find a copy of the Workforce Readiness Advocate’s position description on the local chapter level.


Position Summary:
Serves as an appointed member of the chapter board of directors. Monitors and evaluates on a continuing basis local activities concerning workforce readiness issues and plans and encourages chapter involvement and activities impacting the workforce readiness arena. Presents a report or update to the chapter president and fellow chapter members. Works in cooperation with state-level workforce readiness advocates.

Responsible To: 
The members of the chapter
The chapter president 
State council workforce readiness director

• Serve as advocate and program coordinator for workforce readiness chapter activities.
• Partner with local schools to share information. Contact local workforce readiness coordinators within the schools to discuss initiatives. 
• Identify and evaluate issues that impact workforce readiness and develop goals for chapter workforce readiness strategy.
• Report on workforce readiness issues to chapter members and serve as advocate at chapter activities for education programs.
• Serve as a resource for chapter members on workforce readiness issues and provide leadership to the chapter on education issues.
• Monitor local activities concerning workforce readiness and provide timely information on education issues to the chapter president and state workforce readiness director.
• Work in close cooperation with state workforce readiness director.
• Develop and support workshops and seminars that address workforce readiness issues.
• Provide special recognition for chapter members and for local programs that promote betterment of the local workforce through educational process.
• Respond to any other requirements of the chapter president and state workforce readiness director. 
• Participate in SHRM Workforce Readiness Core Leadership Area volunteer leader conference calls and webcasts.
• Participate in the development and implementation of short-term and long-term strategic planning for the chapter.
• Represent the chapter in the human resources community.
• Attend all monthly membership and board of directors meetings.

Resources Available:
SHRM supplies the following resources for chapter workforce readiness advocates 
Chapter Position Descriptions
Workforce Readiness Manual
Fundamentals of Chapter Operations
And MUCH MORE…available online


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