Situated just north of Houston in Montgomery County, Texas, Conroe’s employment situation in the latter half of the 2010s mirrored national trends. The county’s unemployment levels reached historic levels—as low as 2.8 percent in May 2019—and job growth in the county was outpacing the growth of the local labor force by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. The area’s major employers reported hiring difficulties for key roles in skilled trades, transportation, and healthcare, with more than 150,000 additional openings projected between 2018 and 2023. Local leaders realized a workforce strategy would be necessary to mitigate the continued tightening of the labor market.
The Conroe Economic Development Council’s Workforce Committee—in partnership with area school districts, Lone Star College, and other stakeholders—engaged TIP Strategies to craft a strategy to bridge the regional skills gap. The resulting strategy focused on actions to support three key goals: 1) developing a platform for connecting workers, educators, and industry; 2) creating better alignment between education and industry through strong feedback loops and systems; and 3) fostering a higher level of awareness among students and potential workers of high-demand careers and their related programs. TIP’s recommendations encouraged a deeper and more meaningful engagement of employers in the regional workforce system. The strategy also emphasized increased collaboration among organizations involved in developing workforce and shaping the talent pipeline in the Conroe region to create a more connected, responsive, and demand-driven workforce system.