Texas is facing a skilled workforce shortage of 1.4 million jobs across the state. Our state’s community and technical colleges are uniquely positioned to address this need by offering affordable pathways to in-demand credentials. A new set of draft recommendations from the Texas Commission on Community College Finance (TCCCF) provides a guide for targeted, strategic investments that promise to benefit Texas students and employers alike.
Earlier this summer, the Aim Hire Texas Policy Coalition – a network of over forty partners comprising business leadership and education advocates spanning the entire state – submitted a report of key policy recommendations for consideration by the TCCCF. As the Coalition noted, “By 2030, 62% of all Texas jobs will require a postsecondary credential, and currently only 48% of Texans have earned a postsecondary credential of any kind.” They asked the Commission to strengthen funding for Texas community colleges and improve student outcomes – all with an eye on boosting Texas’ economy.
Last week, the TCCCF published their draft recommendations. In the report, Commissioners demonstrated support for the majority of the Aim Hire Texas Policy Coalition’s recommendations in addition to other student-centered finance reforms – signaling strong alignment between legislative leadership and the business community.
If adequately funded, the TCCCF recommendations will:
- Ensure community colleges prioritize programs that meet their regional workforce needs so that Texas businesses will have access to a regionally aligned skilled workforce
- Ensure that every Texan has an equal opportunity to participate in our state’s prosperity via equitable access to an affordable, high-quality education
- Ensure that state funds are spent efficiently and effectively
- Resolve the underlying structural flaws of our current community college finance system
At today’s Commission meeting, the Aim Hire Texas Policy Coalition praised the draft report in a public comment. As Libby McCabe, Senior Policy Advisor to the Commit Partnership and a leader of the Aim Hire Texas Policy Coalition, said, “The Texas Commission on Community College Finance recommendations propose bold and transformative finance reform that will change the trajectory of our workforce, strengthen our economy, and ensure more Texans have the ability to support themselves and their families. We strongly support these initial recommendations and ask the Commission to recommend that the 88th Legislature invest strategic and meaningful new funding in these data-driven strategies.”
The Commission’s draft recommendations were discussed at a meeting of the interim body held this morning. These recommendations will then form the basis of a full length report, which will be released ahead of the final Commission meeting on October 18.
That report will then be provided to Texas legislators, who have the opportunity to put its recommendations into practice. In 2023, lawmakers will have a $27 billion surplus according to recent estimates from Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, for a total of $149.07 billion in general funds. This makes the 88th Texas Legislature a unique and advantageous opportunity to specifically invest in workforce development.
For our students, businesses, and the economy as a whole – it is vital that this upcoming Session is the Workforce Session.