Collaboration Addresses Texas Labor Shortage Provides Hands-on Training, Livable Wages

Collaborators Gather
Collaborators Gather
Collaborators Gather at CitySquare for Announcement for aspirin HVAC Technicians. (Credit: Stewart Curet, Texas Metro News)

By Stewart Curet
Texas Metro News

Despite the thunderstorms and flooding early this week, UpSmith CEO and Founder, Wyatt Smith called Monday an exciting day as UpSmith, Inc. and American Residential Services (ARS/Rescue-Rooter) announced a partnership creating  “high-purpose, high-pay, high-dignity career opportunities” across Texas for aspiring HVAC technicians. 

“Our mission is to combat the U.S. skill crisis,” said Smith, adding that they have a big challenge with over one million job openings in Texas.  “To take on those roles and expand, we need a new way of working.”

Through UpSmith’s technology platform – – which connects talent with employers seeking to identify, qualify, staff, and retain skilled tradespeople, ARS, the nation’s largest provider of residential heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) services, is sponsoring candidates o earn credentials as HVAC technicians via paid 8-week training boot camps.

According to Smith, upon completion of the program, applicants will be offered $20-25 per hour and those rates will have a significant impact on not only the economy but communities, families and the country.

“Texas is a proving ground for how to create fast, affordable pathways to jobs of the future,” he said. “Our platforms are open for business!”

“We are excited to announce our partnership with UpSmith in addressing the skilled worker shortage across Dallas and Houston,” said ARS Chief Human Resource Officer, Chris Snow. “With their support, we will be able to provide enhanced services to our valued customers and communities. The ARS Network is proud to pioneer these paid on-ramps to welcome new, hard-working talent into our industry. In addition to creating home services careers, we are inviting bright, ambitious young men and women to build fulfilling careers in a rapidly advancing market.”

Earlier this year, when Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson named Lynn McBee as his Workforce Czar,  he said that boosting upskilling efforts in the City was a “top mayoral priority.”  Because of the importance of this issue, this partnership, said McBee, will help with one of her goals, which she stated when appointed, and that is workforce development.  

“Workforce Dallas is committed to helping up to 10,000 residents a year upskill for jobs of the future. UpSmith’s tech platform provides a needed link to employers,” she said. “I am pleased UpSmith is launching its workforce training endeavor in North Texas to create pathways for Metroplex residents to gain high-demand credentials in the skilled professions.” 

Citing statistics that show 40 percent of Dallasites are in the low income bracket, McBee said she and Mayor Johnson are “hyper-focused” and working hard to change those statistics. 

“We’ve got to all be involved and working hard to move those people out of the low income situations and multiple job situations, and we know that technology is the way to scale, technology is the future in solving workforce issues.”

For McBee, solutions include upward mobility, providing the skills and investing in participants reaching their fullest potential. 

To underscore the value of their community partnership, CitySquare Chief Programs Officer Nadia Salibi said: “At CitySquare, our programs address inequality in access to housing, food, healthcare, legal services, and employment opportunities. As we strive to remove obstacles for so many of our neighbors, we are excited to partner with UpSmith and empower our neighbors through training that can secure better pay and a rewarding, sustainable career.”

She added that partnering, as well as employment training are critical to CitySquare and their team will be “walking alongside” workers to help them achieve their goals.

“In the fight to move our neighbors out of poverty into the possibilities, everyone deserves to have equal access to training, and building marketable skills is paramount.”

Darren Green wholeheartedly agrees and he was on hand to share his experiences.  

The former Marine said he went through an identity crisis and needed to find a niche to direct his drive and sense of purpose.  

Because he enjoyed working with his hands, and he saw an opportunity for growth, he signed up, graduated from HVAC school and is gainfully employed, doing something that is providing him so many opportunities.

And those opportunities are coming fast, according to Smith, who says candidates interested in careers as HVAC technicians should visit to learn more, and apply.  He said the process is simple and after creating a video, passing checks that include background and drug testing; they will be hiring in the next two and a half weeks.

“You’ll be a technician by the middle of the Fall,” Smith added.

Marva J. Sneed contributed to this report.

Mayor Eric Johnson releases ‘Upskilling Dallas: How to Modernize the City’s Workforce for the Jobs of Tomorrow’

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson

DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson on Thursday released a highly anticipated new report that provides a roadmap for how the city can help its residents learn the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson
Mayor Eric Johnson

Cicero Group, a research and management consulting firm, produced the report, Upskilling Dallas: How to Modernize the City’s Workforce for the Jobs of Tomorrow, after Mayor Johnson commissioned it earlier this year with funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The recommendations made in the report were the result of months of data-gathering and collaborative discussions with educational, philanthropic, nonprofit, and business sector partners. Dallas College, in particular, played a key role in the report’s development.

Mayor Johnson on Wednesday announced the impending release of the report during his annual State of the City address.

“Workforce development is one of the most important and least discussed issues of our time, especially here in Dallas,” Mayor Johnson said. “For as long as I can remember, the health of the Dallas economy has been judged in terms of real estate deals or the number of jobs we bring in from someplace else. But to build for our future, we must consider how we can fill those jobs with the people who already call Dallas home.

“By investing in new upskilling efforts and working with our partners to help promote, refine, and expand existing programs, we can help our residents better themselves, make more money, and start exciting new careers. Together, we can build the workforce of the future — one that will attract and grow businesses, build equity, and sustain our city’s outstanding economic growth for years to come.”

The report details four recommendations for improving workforce development:

  • Workforce Liaison: Appoint an individual to implement the recommendations, track progress, and ensure the city is represented in regional workforce development efforts.
  • Formal Collaboration: Establish a formal agreement with existing workforce development organizations to align efforts and accountability for outcomes.
  • Program Engagement: Leverage the mayor’s unique role to communicate and promote local upskilling programs to target audiences.
  • Navigation Support: Refine digital supports to assist working-age adults in navigating upskilling opportunities and resources.

“The recommendations of the panel are heartening and come at a perfect time,” said Dr. Joe May, Chancellor of Dallas College. “Together with our Dallas College partners, we are increasing the size of the city’s workforce through a diversified portfolio of technical and job-training programs. We recognize that not every life-sustaining and rewarding job requires a four-year degree, and in some cases, as in IT, a certificate opens the first door.

“It’s been a pleasure collaborating with the Mayor’s team on this study,” Dr. May added. “Working in lock-step with our community partners, the path toward a better life through a Dallas College education is more real than ever. There are already too many barriers that keep our high school graduates out of higher education. Through our workforce development programs and our community partners, Dallas College is playing a vital role in getting the citizens of Dallas on a trajectory toward a rewarding future that grows the city’s economy for the health of our regional economy, too.”

Mayor Johnson is asking the Dallas City Council’s Workforce, Education, and Equity Committee to discuss the report at its December briefing. The mayor has asked the committee’s vice chair, Casey Thomas, to help champion the recommendations. Councilmember Thomas and Committee Chairwoman Jaynie Schultz served on Cicero Group’s workforce study steering committee during the report’s development.

“If we want a strong city, we need to build a strong workforce. With these recommendations, our city can work with our private partners to expand opportunities across Dallas,” said Chairwoman Schultz. “I am grateful for Mayor Johnson’s commitment to this issue, and I look forward to working with him, Chairman Thomas and my City Council colleagues to ensure these plans are implemented.”

“Workforce development is more than an economic development issue. It’s an equity issue,” said Vice Chairman Thomas. “I share Mayor Johnson’s passion for helping the people of southern Dallas become more competitive for jobs in the changing economy. Everyone in our city deserves an opportunity for success.”

The city’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget includes funding to help implement the recommendations through a new Small Business Center. In addition, Mayor Johnson pledged in his State of the City address to use his discretionary American Rescue Plan Act funds to supplement the efforts.

Mayor Johnson, who grew up in underserved communities in West Dallas and Oak Cliff, named workforce development as a top priority when he took office in 2019. Earlier that year, the Brookings Institution released a report estimating that 25% of the jobs in the U.S. could be threatened by automation in the years ahead.

Since that report’s release, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the pace of changes and economic disruptions. While the economy has improved, various job sectors are now facing labor shortages — while many workers remain unemployed or underemployed.

“Workers and those who have yet to enter the workforce need an accessible path to a ‘work and learn’ strategy for upskilling,” said Laurie Larrea, President, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas. “As the Workforce Board in Dallas County, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas joined Mayor Johnson in this quest, and we commend the results.

“Texas, and particularly North Texas, is rebounding faster than most of the country. We need to seize the opportunity of this incredible economy and growth by providing the best opportunities to our current Dallas workforce. We also recognize that residents can’t necessarily give up the job they have to get the opportunities they need. Through this report, upskilling and the accessible delivery of skills training is the priority. Data shows the workforce has changed and will continue to evolve quickly to meet the advances in business. Great jobs are waiting!”

“Cities that invest in helping residents build new skills at every stage of their professional lives will be best positioned for long-term competitiveness,” said Alan Cohen, President and CEO of the Child Poverty Action Lab (CPAL). “I commend the Mayor for lifting up reskilling as a necessary and addressable priority for Dallas’ workforce.”

In total, Cicero Group consulted 42 experts and conducted 70 meetings to help develop the report.

“Our research pointed to the needs of working-age adults, with less than a college education, as a population who can be benefiting more from the city’s economy,” said Kerri Briggs, Partner, Cicero Group.

“We look forward to seeing the actions and impact that can result as the recommendations are implemented.”

x Logo: Shield Security
This Site Is Protected By
Shield Security