Back to the Future: Fort Worth’s Workforce Needs

Is the region’s workforce ready for the needs of companies like Amazon? Our pursuit of Amazon’s second headquarters deepens conversations about workforce planning.

By Karen Vermaire Fox
Executive Director
Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth

Amazon and its new headquarters – anyone tired of talking about that yet?

As the City of Fort Worth, Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau go through strategic planning for the coming years, the issue of talent has come up again and again. This conversation has deepened as the region tries to land Amazon’s second headquarters. Are we attracting the right talent? What do we need to encourage companies to move to Fort Worth, and who is available to train our current talent?

The Fort Worth Independent School District is addressing this with its commitment to graduating students college and career-ready. With a wide variety of programs of choice, students are being prepared to leave high school ready to go to work or further their education. The long-range facilities master plan, with help from the 2017 bond election, will update classrooms to meet these goals as well.

Meanwhile, community partners are assisting with the development of meaningful programs for all Fort Worth ISD students. Lockheed Martin committed up to a $1 million multi-year grant to expand college and career-focused science engineering and mathematics programs for all district schools. Programs have been developed and implemented at Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School, Paschal High School, Polytechnic High School and Southwest High School. In fall 2018, the Fort Worth ISD will open the IM Terrell Academy for STEM and Visual and Performing Arts.

FWISD is also working to educate students in health care and biomedical sciences careers. The ISD’s Texas Academy for Biomedical Sciences provides students with a rigorous curriculum in an early college environment to prepare them for the demands of a career in biomedical sciences.

The partnership between FWISD and Tarrant County College is developing talent for our growing health care sector. TCC serves as one of the primary trainers for Tarrant County’s health care workforce.

Tarrant County College is also working with community leaders and local businesses to create programs to train, retrain and prepare future employees.

The Tarrant County College Opportunity Center is the place where TCC can leverage its course curriculum to meet the training needs of local businesses in Tarrant County. For example, the CNC (computer numerically controlled equipment) course that teaches future employees to operate complex equipment was originally designed to fill the void of highly skilled workers needed to operate the sophisticated equipment that form metal parts. This course helps put those who are unemployed or underemployed back to work. 

The economic surge of the participants in just this one class has the potential to hit nearly $2 million per year. It only takes half of the course graduates to maintain their entry-level salary, while one-fourth of the class advances to the mid-range salary of $29.41 per hour or $61,172.80 a year, and the remaining one-fourth eventually advances to top wages of $53.33 or $110,926.40 per year.

The CNC training course is just one of the short-term training programs TCC offers. Courses in composite manufacturing, computer repair technician, hydraulics and pneumatics and forklift safety also are available. Earning a certification in any of these areas can make a difference when job-hunting. 

The college also works with businesses, community and economic development organizations and industry associations to develop the workforce. It is working to create customized training solutions including computer training, management and leadership courses, and language, safety and industry-specific technical trainings. TCC also works closely with economic development organizations, such as local chambers of commerce, to assist companies with their needs to train and grow their workforce.