Is education the key to success?

Have you heard the phrase, “getting an education is the key to success”? And have you ever tried to decipher what this means? When I hear the word “education,” the first thing that comes to mind is someone who chooses to go to college and pursue a degree. However, getting an education can also include going through a certification program and following a tradesman’s path. Today’s norm is to attend college, but have you considered taking an alternative path? If so, it is essential to weigh the pros and cons of every educational path you are considering and use labor market information to influence your decision.

College: College may be the safest option, but is it the best option for you? Remember that choosing to attend college is a long-term and expensive commitment. You should attend college if you have a specific career path in mind. However, college is rigorous, and you should be prepared to adjust your plans periodically. College is a great place to take advantage of all it has to offer, including a rigorous academic education, access to the college’s career and development office, and a network of the college’s alumni. 

Trade: Another career path you can choose is to pursue a trade. There are many options to choose from, such as becoming a plumber, electrician, welder, or HVAC technician. These are alternative career options with many job opportunities that offer above-average wages for the Gulf Coast Region. Programs for these trades range from six months to four years to become certified. However, many of these trades allow you to take a hands-on approach while in a program. If you prefer a hands-on, trial-and-error way of learning, pursuing a trade might be the right educational path for you. Additionally, there is currently a shortage of individuals seeking trade programs, giving you more opportunities right off the bat. 

 Ultimately, it comes down to various factors: time, money, preferences, and interests. With the cost of education rising year after year, it is critical to evaluate the potential debt you will incur based on the educational path you select.

Whichever educational path you choose, a great place to start looking for labor market information is on our website by taking a closer look at the High-skill, High-growth Occupations. Here, we highlight careers in the areas projected to have ongoing employment opportunities within the next ten years.

Jason Rodriguez is a Career Navigator for a Workforce Solutions. He is a graduate from the College of the Holy Cross where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Chinese and a Minor in Anthropology. Jason is a native Houstonian with a passion for helping others to find a job, keep a job, or get a better job.

2022 Point-In-Time Downtown Houston Survey 

In January 2022, The Way Home and The Coalition for the Homeless teamed up to conduct their annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count. During the count, volunteers surveyed individuals experiencing homelessness in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery counties. As the Navigator for Workforce Solutions’ Income Now program, I had the opportunity to volunteer at this year’s PIT count. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we were allowed to form teams or venture on our own into the downtown Houston area to conduct interviews and collect data using an app on our cell phones. 

I decided to venture into the area on my own. For a moment, I couldn’t find one person to interview. Although a bit lost, I switched my mindset from outreach volunteer to frequent downtown visitor. I began thinking of areas saturated with people living on the sidewalks and explored them. This method worked for me because, upon arriving at a familiar street, I ran into the first person I could interview near a fast-food restaurant. It only seemed fair to buy him a breakfast platter with coffee as an incentive to speak with me – so I did. After shaking off my first-time jitters when approaching random people, every interview I conducted became a conversation rather than a questionnaire with boxes to check off. In total, I spoke with over 35 individuals, whose stories were heartbreaking, inspiring, and eye-opening on how homelessness can happen to anyone.  

While all the stories slightly differed from one another, nearly half of the people I spoke with pointed out that employment was a solution to getting back on their feet. After each encounter, I offered the Coordinated Access intake line – a housing assessment for those interested in participating in a housing intervention program. Moreover, I encouraged those willing and able to work to request a referral to Workforce Solutions for job search assistance. Income Now, which began in 2015, is a partnership between The Way Home and Workforce Solutions. Income Now gives people access to housing and income by coordinating services and providers that offer a path toward self-sufficiency. All who complete an assessment with Coordinated Access are connected to the best housing intervention program suited to their current needs. Furthermore, it connects people to three different types of income: Social Security Income or Social Security Disability Income, supported employment, or Workforce Solutions for employment services. This dual program ensures people have the support to maintain long-term housing and employment stability. 

Participating in this year’s PIT count had its challenges, but the data gathered is vital as it shows how many people are living without secure housing. Moreover, it presents an opportunity to learn why homelessness occurs in our communities and allows organizations to raise awareness and create action plans to help those in need. From my experience as the Income Now Navigator for Workforce Solutions, I take away a fresh perspective on the work our two systems have to offer our customers and how our partnership continues to impact the lives of one of our most vulnerable populations. 

Omar Martinez is a Income Now Navigator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston Region. Prior to joining the team, Omar served as a resource specialist helping customers get back into the workforce by reviewing current labor market information, job-readiness skills, and community resources. Omar’s continued driving force is to help customers get a job, keep a job, or get a better job by conducting job skills seminars throughout the 13 counties of the Gulf Coast region. He holds a B.S. in Psychology and a Minor in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Houston.

Utility Player or Specialist

David Spears

Most agree that Nolan Ryan is one of the best pitchers in the history of major league baseball, and excelled in all aspects of the position. Although fans have not seen him play other positions like shortstop or outfield, we can safely assume he would have been below average. Nolan Ryan had a specialty that brought value to the team. However, his value got him traded to at least four major league teams.

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Hiring Events vs. Job Fairs

When searching for a job, people usually try to get as many contacts as possible. Workforce Solutions staff often discuss in detail the importance of networking and building relationships with employers. It’s stressed so much that part of our training and development includes a networking segment devoted to its effectiveness. One section discussed during the training is hiring events and job fairs. Many of us know that hiring events and job fairs are where people go to speak with employers about jobs offered.

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