East Texas chambers join effort to urge state policymakers to strengthen funding for community colleges |

More than 20 leading business and education organizations sent a proposal Thursday to the Texas Commission on Community College Finance (TCCCF) urging it to strengthen funding for community colleges in Texas.

This was in the light of the growing skilled workforce shortage that has left over a million job openings across Texas unfilled as of March 2022.

“Industries across our region — and indeed the entire country — are struggling to find skilled, qualified labor,” said Kelly Hall, President and CEO of the Longview Chamber. “That’s why the work of the ongoing Texas Commission on Community College Finance is vital to the future of East Texas. By lowering the bureaucratic barriers and increasing accessibility for students, we can ensure the earnings of employers and employees alike continue to grow.”

The proposal has been in the making for two years and the recommendations were aimed at improving the state’s community college system and the overall economy. The report’s recommendations are designed to fundamentally reform community college finance in Texas and to reflect the needs of the 21st century.

“It takes more than one individual, more than one organization to create the change that we’re looking for to fill in that shortage,” said LaToya Young executive director of the Tyler Area Business Education Council. “We all have to come to the table and have productive conversations and roll up our sleeves to get the work done in order to fill the shortage of workers in the area.”

Young said funding needs have transitioned in the last few years because local community colleges offer diversified services such as dual credit, adult education, certifications, associate degrees and credentials.

“With those additional commitments they are doing… they also need additional funding to help with the cost that they get with all the wonderful services they are offering to the East Texas region,” Young said.

The report stated that “… today, an estimated 86% of all good full-time jobs in the US require a postsecondary credential. By 2030, 62% of all Texas jobs will require the same.”

Young said one of the important solutions offered in the proposal was one about making sure education partners have the flexibility to offer local business and industry partners the education, training and retooling that business partners need.

According to the report, Texas is a leader when it comes to job creation but lacks the skilled talent to fill its workforce. The Longview Chamber reported that 25% of adults have some college but no credential.

Young said we need to listen more to employers of what specific skill sets that they’re looking for to fill the skilled talent needed for jobs.

“There’s no one size fits all and we understand that our workforce partners are very diverse and we know that our community colleges need flexibility to offer what those business and industry partners are looking for,” Young said.

Young said she hopes the proposal will start more conversations.

“That’s how we create change, by having conversations [and] bringing all interested parties to the table to create change not just on a state level but as a local level for what’s best for our community,” Young said. “So we are hoping this pushes the conversation on how to fill that workforce shortage and that gap.”

The proposal was supported by multiple chambers of commerce and education organizations in Tyler, Longview Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and more.

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