Gov. Rick Perry announced a collaboration between the Governor's Office, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) that will use competency-based learning to help Texans quickly receive certifications in high demand industries. The governor was joined by Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams, Texas State Technical College Chancellor Mike Reeser, and lawmakers in Harlingen to discuss this new effort to maintain a skilled workforce to meet our state's growing industry demands.

"Over the past decade, Texas has established a jobs-friendly environment that has powered our economic engine and attracted major employers in various growing industries, leading to increased demand for certified, high-skilled workers," Gov. Perry said. "The framework for technical training we're putting in place will enable workers to earn their technical certifications fast, at an affordable cost, and targeted to specific skills that are needed by industries."

Demand for skilled workers continues to grow as Texas' economy flourishes, particularly in sectors like manufacturing, where it has nearly doubled over the past three years and is projected to grow 10 percent by 2020. To address this need, the Texas State Technical College System is developing a framework for this skilled workforce initiative, which will quickly and affordably allow workers to translate existing skills into targeted certifications. This framework can be tailored to specific industry needs, and is easily exportable to all community and technical colleges statewide.

"A skilled workforce is essential to our economy. When our business and industry leaders work together with our education institutions, it creates a direct path to employment for Texans," State Rep. Eddie Lucio, III said. "The new educational delivery model that Texas State Technical College will develop will aid to solidify Texas' economic prosperity. I sincerely applaud the efforts of the Governor's office, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission."

"Gov. Perry's leadership on this initiative will help expedite the production of a skilled labor force to meet the needs of our growing state," State Rep. J.M. Lozano said.

Businesses are also encouraged to form partnerships with their local school districts to incorporate this workforce training into local career and technical education programs. The program will focus on ensuring job-preparedness for groups like veterans, current workers needing retraining, and career-focused high school graduates among others.

"Texas State Technical College System is excited to be working with its fellow state agencies and with Texas industrial employers to develop this new framework for training Texans for crucial high-skilled jobs in our state," Chancellor Mike Reeser said. "We are especially grateful for the Governor's leadership in this vital effort."

Texans already benefit from programs that utilize a competency-based approach to education, and Gov. Perry has called on higher education institutions to continue looking for ways to implement this approach as a way to make education more affordable and accessible. Texas' College Credit 4 Heroes program allows veterans to get college course credit for the experience, education and training they obtained during military service, and WGU Texas, a subsidiary of Western Governors University (WGU), provides online bachelor's and master's degrees, and recently graduated its first class since its creation last year.

Gov. Perry also praised Sen. Dan Patrick, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, for calling on the State Board of Education to double the number of approved Career Tech courses available to students in Texas. These courses prepare students to graduate ready to work in numerous in-demand fields and will further bolster the state's effort to meet the growing need for high-skilled workers in various industries.