A qualified local workforce takes investing in our schools, community, and infrastructure.
Wow, it is 2024, and the future of the Permian Basin looks bright, partly due to the investment of money and time that most of our energy leaders made in working so hard to help pass the school bonds in Midland, Odessa, and Greenwood. There is no way that I can begin to thank them all.
Nothing is more impactful than having our leaders and students speak to our area’s needs to improve education. We need to tell our story better. It is not only a good marketing tool but also the truth.
Some of you will disagree that better buildings will not improve student outcomes. Still, you have not walked in my shoes for the last 35-plus years working in school districts that changed to middle schools as far back as the 1980s or added a second high school where no one thought the community would ever agree on another high school. Change is a process that frightens us, but change is a reality of life. Successful change takes hard work, so as a community, we need to be patient.
Do new shining buildings improve student results? The study published by the Abell Hanger Foundation had mixed results, but it is not easy to quantify quality improvements.
Will K-12 schools’ partnerships with Midland College, Odessa College, and UTPB improve our graduation rates and student education levels to build a more qualified workforce? Time will tell, but my guess is, yes, they will. Collaboration is on the upswing between these entities.
Remember my article about the results of an education survey shared by the Literacy Coalition of the Permian Basin? Individual abilities, not just an individual reading level, will contribute to improving the quality of the growth of our own workforce. The study cited that the high-demand occupations will need Level 3 Literacy. Level 3 Literacy means the individual:
- Can comprehend dense or lengthy texts that include continuous, noncontinuous, mixed, or multiple pages of text.
- Can construct meaning across larger chunks of text or perform multi-step operations to identify and formulate responses.
- Can disregard irrelevant or inappropriate content to answer accurately to find the correct answer.
The high-demand occupations are not engineers; they do not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree. However, they need a solid high school education and often some college and/or certifications. Have you looked at a training module to be a mechanic recently?
The jobs requiring Level 3 skills include heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks, automotive service technicians and mechanics, nursing assistants, teaching assistants (except postsecondary), medical assistants, hairdressers, hairstylists, cosmetologists, computer user support specialists, firefighters, geological and hydrologic technicians, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers, paralegals and legal assistants, preschool teachers (except special education), dental assistants, calibration technologists and technicians and engineering technologists and technicians (except drafters), and all other emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
Updating and building a solid foundation in our schools, community, and infrastructure in the Permian has been a struggle for decades, but things are changing. Road construction and infrastructure improvements are indeed happening everywhere in the Permian. New businesses are opening, and from my viewpoint after moving here in 2004, the Permian is very different now than then.
I wonder if saying, fly your wife in at night will be a thing of the past. Families want their children to have nice places to go to school and activities to participate in to keep their children engaged and safe. I predict that the school improvements and the continued investment in our area will help grow our community and workforce, and more families will make the Permian their home for years to come.
Only time will tell, but I am hanging around for a few more years to be a part of the change.
Finally, trust our leaders, question our leaders, participate in our community, do your own research on the issues, and get off poisonous social media. You will never know what the inside of a very old school looks like if you do not visit. You will never know how city or county government works if you never attend or watch a meeting; do not forget to vote.
“Your employees are the heart of your organization.” Dr. Michele Harmon is a Human Resource professional, supporting clients in Texas and New Mexico that range in size from five to more than 3,000 employees. Email: email@example.com