FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gretchen Fox
AUSTIN, TEXAS –The Texas Association of Manufacturers told state leaders that the Texas’ reputation as “Wide Open for Business” and as a leading job creator is at risk if state leaders fail to address the deepening skills gap in the Texas workforce.
Joe Arnold, chairman of TAM’s Workforce Committee, provided testimony today at the Senate Business and Commerce Committee hearing at the State Capitol in Austin.
“Our state’s leadership has done right and done well in creating a business climate that’s ripe for expanded investment and job creation. It’s the envy of every other state in the nation,” said Arnold. “But, if we don’t also take simultaneous action to ensure Texans are educated, well trained and equipped for the complexity and rigors of a competitive global economy, we’re going to pay a steep price as employers look elsewhere to other states, regions or countries for skilled workers.”
According to the most recent Skills Gap study conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting, two-thirds of business respondents report a moderate to severe shortage of qualified, available workers.
Arnold pointed to data from the San Antonio area that underscored the looming crisis. In late March, the San Antonio Manufacturers Association estimated that more than 1,500 open jobs in the area remained unfilled due to a lack of skills among potential workers.
The state’s manufacturing sector is a cornerstone of the Texas economy, and the diversification of the industry in recent years means a wide range of jobs – from welders to engineers and pipe fitters to chemists – are needed. Regardless of their specialty, manufacturing workers can expect to earn an average annual salary of more than $70,000.
“We need flexibility in our state’s education system that recognizes different talents and varying workforce needs. And, we need to provide different options and approaches so students get the education they need for all of the good jobs that are out there,” Arnold said. “Whatever the path our young people wish to take after high school, whether to a technical or community college, or a four-year university, we must ensure all students are on a path toward post-secondary success. There must be rigor across the board for all students.”
Beyond the workforce concerns that the Senate committee heard during today’s hearing, Arnold stressed that keeping a strong business climate is also key to continued job creation and increased prosperity in the state.
“We must ensure that our state’s tax, energy and environmental policies continue to encourage – not dissuade – additional business expansion, relocation and growth,” said Arnold.
The Texas Association of Manufacturers (TAM) represents over 400 large and small companies from every manufacturing sector, employing more than 838,000 Texans with an average compensation of $79,000 a year (the highest in the private sector). Texas Association of Manufacturers is online at www.manufacturetexas.org. Join TAM on Facebook.com/TXManufacturers.