State education agency sends report to Abbott to better Texas education

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Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

A collaborative governmental education agency sent its report to the governor earlier this month on how to develop strong links between education and the work industry.

In March, Gov. Greg Abbott authorized the creation of the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative, which consists of the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission. The goals the agency was tasked with include maintaining affordable education, increasing education on jobs in high-demand fields and identifying gaps in services to Texas veterans.

“Texas faces a significant challenge in helping all students in P-12 schools become career and college-ready in areas that address both current and future workforce needs,” the report said. “The state also must help workers quickly retool their skills when their jobs are affected by ever-changing technology.”

The commissioners of the three committees held regional meetings from April through June to meet with leaders in education, industry and government to understand the state’s workforce needs. The report said many of these leaders placed an emphasis on STEM education for preK-12 and increasing higher education access for underrepresented students. They also heard about unfilled jobs in high-demand fields and how to close the education gaps to fill these jobs.

The agency was able to come up with four prime recommendations for the governor: Identify statewide initiatives to make Texas a leader in targeted fields, strengthen preK-12 education to prepare students for college, align educational goals of governmental agencies to the goals of Texas and identify services for veterans to transition them back into the workforce.

“The Governor is considering all recommendations in the Tri-Agency report,” Sam Taylor, deputy press secretary in the Office of the Governor, said in an email. 

Abbott also tasked the agency with finding ways to accomplish Texas’s higher education plan called 60x30TX, which aims to get 60 percent of Texans ages 25–34 a college degree by 2030, and was introduced by the THECB last year. 

“Texas will become the home for innovation and intellectual capital,” Abbott said last year. “The standard that this group sets does set high expectations. But I’ve come to believe that people live up to the expectations that are set.” 

UT System Chancellor William McRaven said earlier this year the System has already aligned with several of 60x30TX‘s plans, including preK-12 outreach and using technology as a way to reduce barriers to higher education. 

“The University of Texas System stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners in public higher education to accomplish the goals of this ambitious mission,” McRaven said in a statement. “The UT System eagerly accepts its vital role in this initiative.”

THECB commissioner Raymund Paredes said at the State of Higher Education last month the goals of 60x30TX must be met no matter the circumstance.

Paredes said Texas wouldn’t be able to accomplish 60x30TX by doing “business as usual” when it comes to education.

“If we make progress on all these fronts, I think that 60x30TX will be achievable,” Paredes said at the address. “I believe we will be able to look back and say we did some extraordinary things for the young people and future of Texas. Texas higher education is getting better, but it is not getting better fast enough.” 

This story has been updated since its initial publication to correct THECB commissioner Raymund Paredes' stance on the goals of 60x30TX.