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College and Career Institutes

The Gulf Coast Workforce Board partnered with Project GRAD Houston and local community colleges in 2014 to develop the J.P. Morgan Chase College and Career Institutes. The institutes grow annually, assisting thousands of young adults by offering valuable insight into the world of post-secondary education.

Each summer in two-week sessions on college campuses across the region, the Institutes present a series of engaging learning experiences to high school students from area districts through an innovative career academy model. Sponsored by Chase, the Institutes focus on applied technology career clusters, including manufacturing, logistics, construction, HVAC, petrochemical and energy.

Workforce Solutions - the operating affiliate of the Gulf Coast Workforce Board - presents multiple career readiness modules in the sessions that focus on identifying and aligning each student's career vision with skills and abilities, making lifestyle choices that include economic factors, and communicating their interests, skills and abilities in both written and spoken words.

Local community colleges and more than 100 business partners provide laboratory experiences that offer samples of what real-world duties look like in more than 30 different applied technology (i.e., "middle skills") careers. Students also learn to see technical certificates and associates degrees awarded by community colleges as viable and valuable opportunities in post-secondary education.

Workforce Solutions and Project GRAD staff provide college readiness expertise in areas like college applications, writing samples, financial aid and how to transition to college life. Over the course of six weeks, the institutes serve more than 1,000 students at the Houston Community College, Lone Star College, San Jacinto College and Lee College campuses.

This model represents the Board's strategic effort to integrate career readiness with applicable work experience, college readiness and comprehensive life planning. These efforts not only benefit the Houston-Galveston region's young people, preparing them for life's important next steps, but they also promote growth in the region's economy. When our young people do well, we all benefit.

Through the Institutes, students learn about in-demand jobs and critical industries, the types of training available for each occupation and how much additional education is required to pursue various career pathways.

The Institutes' efforts have been a resounding success at instilling knowledge in young people about the importance of finding a good job, buidling a rewarding career and providing a bright future for their families. Personal testimonies, pre/post surveys and follow-up outreach efforts have helped Workforce Solutions and partner organizations determine the strong economic impact of the Institutes.

According to Project GRAD, student surveys measured growth in confidence across six key areas, including:

  • academic preparedness (33% increase) 
  • career preparedness (48% increase) 
  • academic tenacity (30% increase) 
  • college knowledge (42% increase) 
  • college commitment (20% increase)
  • high school support (60% increase)

For Workforce Solutions, all measurable outcomes show marked improvement. Students reported a significantly stronger understanding of "Career Preparedness" following the completion of summer institutes. Some findings include:

  • I have a clear idea of what my dream job is, including the education and training required = 52% increase
  • I have identified at least three alternative careers that also let me use my interests and skills = 35% increase
  • I can summarize and explain my skills to an employer = 97% increase 
  • I feel comfortable introducing myself to professional contacts = 23% increase 
  • I know the components of an effective job application= 73% increase
  • I know what potential employers might view as positive or negative on my social media = 24% increase
  • I know the components of an effective resume = 62% increase

By moving to the collaboration model for the Chase College and Career Institutes, Workforce Solutions increased career counseling services to young adults from merely 100 students in 2014 to nearly 1,000 students in 2015. In 2016, we served an additional 1,000 students. What started with only two districts grew to eight in 2015; and in 2016 students from 20 public schools and charter school systems will participate in the College and Career Institutes.

Private business, community-based organizations, higher education and the public workforce system together are building the talent pipeline to fill critical occupations in essential sectors of the Gulf Coast region.