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Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County

DFW Regional Aerospace Cluster

Workforce Challenge

In the Dallas-Fort Worth corridor, Aerospace is an economic driver that contributes millions of dollars annually to the local economy. It is a well-paying industry that provides significant employment in the region. Although Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County had interacted with aerospace corporations in the past, a more coordinated effort was needed to address an aging workforce, prepare the industry for competition from the high-tech sector for engineers and skilled manufacturing workers, and boost a dwindling labor pool that had companies "poaching" each others' employees.

Workforce Solution

Tarrant County Workforce Solutions invited major aerospace companies, including Lockheed Martin, Vought Aircraft and Bell Helicopter, to create a regional Aerospace Cluster and work together to develop a strategic plan for building the workforce. Together, they developed a mission statement and goals, reviewed regional data, and created a Skills Matrix to identify commonalities and skill sets that were being lost as a result of an aging workforce.

Over time, additional companies in the industry were invited to participate, along with educational providers and local unions as needed. The strategic plan encompassed outreach, training, engagement of career & technical education partners, creation of a mentoring program for curriculum instructors, and incorporation of social media to help reach youth. This strategic plan was submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission and garnered a $1.2M grant to implement the plan.

Outcomes & Benefits

The development of this cluster and implementation of its outreach and education plan resulted in numerous benefits for both the aerospace industry and Workforce Solutions, but more importantly, it positively impacted the current and future workers in the region. Among the highlights:
• The Workforce Board enhanced their working relationship and level of trust with top management within the industry.
• The Aerospace/Manufacturing Training Program (AMTP) has resulted in jobs with full benefits for hundreds of new and dislocated workers.
• The “Gotta Jet?” Outreach Materials were distributed to over 24,000 students and counselors in a 16-county area.
• Industry representatives provided presentations to students in classrooms, teacher in-service day, PTO meetings, summer camps, engineering expo, college nights, and more.
• The Aerospace Cluster model has been replicated by others in the state and in the state of Georgia.
• Career Technology Education Directors’ Advisory Committee was created, providing a venue for CTE Directors to create curriculum with industry involvement.
• Using “Gotta Jet?” as the model, the Workforce Board received funding to develop “Gotta Make It” Advanced Manufacturing DVD, Brochure, and outreach materials.
• The Workforce Board used social media, including Facebook pages and YouTube videos, to reach younger workers and students with information about career pipelines.

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