Training and education for the workforce: It’s time for change

Young male in a wheelchair collaborates with coworkers in an office

The U.S. manufacturing industry has reported 600,000 positions opened in 2014, with many having gone unfilled due to a growing shortage of skilled workers (Deloitte, 2014). According to the Center on Education and Workforce, by 2020, an additional 3.5 million U.S. jobs are expected to be open in related industries, nearly 70% of which will require at least some form of postsecondary education and training (e.g., one-year certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree). In order to meet this growing demand for skilled labor, we need to create more adaptive workforce training and continuing education opportunities. This is especially true for people with disabilities who are largely underrepresented in these types of industry-based jobs.

In support of creating jobs for people with disabilities, PRIDE Industries is leading the way with its newest initiative PRIDE Ascend. This initiative was established to assist people with disabilities or those who are disadvantaged to obtain the needed competencies and mastery of skills represented by industry-based certifications. To accomplish this, PRIDE leverages both its accreditation with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET) accredited programs offered by the Technical Publishing Company (TPC) as its foundation. Currently, PRIDE Ascend offers construction and facility maintenance-based training programs, both of which offer certificates of completion, award continuing education unit credits, and provide continued workforce training opportunities through career-orientated apprenticeship programs.  

Through leveraging community involvement, PRIDE Ascend offers the opportunity to build relationships by working with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Department of Assistive Rehabilitative Services (DARS) to identify ways that can engage a large community of career development support such as parents, businesses, and retired skilled workers. It is our ultimate goal to either support or drive state policy toward change to create more work-based opportunities that support externships, expand work-based and/or virtual learning, support industry-recognized credentials, and encourage industry-led organization sponsorships, all which are geared towards career development for those who do not have the same opportunities to succeed, or experience the challenges faced by those with a disability or disadvantaged.

Ultimately, it’s time for a collaborative national effort that drives the creation for innovative strategies based on best practices and builds new programs and services to meet today’s industry demands. Just imagine the endless possibilities of what we can accomplish when we work together.


Also, feel free to contact me directly with your thoughts and questions. I would love to hear from you.

Lonny Wright


This blog post was originally published on NCCER’s blog Breaking Ground, and was reposted here with permission.