North Texas is Talent Central, Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships


When it comes to a high-quality workforce that is fueling one of the nation’s top economic engines, North Texas is “talent central.” If a company or an organization needs individuals with specific knowledge, skills, or abilities, North Texas is the first place to look.

The importance of having a high-performing workforce is underscored by the recently announced five-year strategic plan of the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Of the DRC’s three top priorities, two mention talent. The first is growing the talent pipeline, and the second is attracting and retaining talent for the North Texas area. Both are important, but growing the talent pipeline is essential to economic prosperity and for ensuring a high quality of life.


Why is this so important? Because the No. 1 question on the minds of employers is how to continuously find the new talent they need to remain competitive. This need is increasing because of the technological changes that are occurring in almost every sector of the economy.

What’s the solution? More education. Recently, Randall Stephenson, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), was quoted in a recent New York Times article as saying, “There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop.” The article went on to quote Stephenson: “People who do not spend five to 10 hours a week in online learning will obsolete themselves with the technology.”

While Stephenson’s comments were directed at AT&T employees, the same statements could be made by the CEOs of almost any North Texas business or organization. From technology companies to health-care organizations, all rely on a high-quality pool of talent.

In North Texas, we are focusing on public-private partnerships to help ensure that employers can locate the talent they need and that individuals can find jobs with these great organizations. These partnerships include high schools, community colleges, universities and regional employers.


Therefore, the secret to ensuring that the North Texas area continues to reign as talent central is the willingness on the part of school districts, colleges, and universities to partner with employers. These public-private partnerships ensure that programs and curriculum are perfectly aligned to meet the needs of employer partners.

One exciting example of how North Texas is increasing the talent pipeline is through early college high schools.

Early college high schools enable students to graduate from high school with both a diploma and an associate degree from a community college, and also have the opportunity to get a great job immediately, or transfer to a university.

Students who enroll in early college high schools are twice as likely to earn a postsecondary certificate or degree within six years of graduating from high school than individuals who enroll in a more traditional school. Presently, eight early college high schools are operating in North Texas, and more are on the way.

While the current early college high schools are partnerships between school districts and community colleges, the next round of schools scheduled to open will include employers in the partnership.


Plans presently are under way for the Dallas Independent School District to partner with the Dallas County Community College District and specific area employers to put in place several P-Tech Early College High Schools. (P-Tech schools provide Pathways in Technology for their students.)

These partnerships will enable North Texas to improve the efficiency of the talent pipeline by helping students expand their understanding of careers, and by providing an opportunity for them to acquire the skills and experiences they will need to successful in those careers. At the same time, the employers are helping build a workforce that will enable their organizations to prosper.

Public-private partnerships are the key to helping North Texas remain talent central.

Perhaps, more importantly, it helps ensure a prosperous economy and the outstanding quality of life that is enjoyed by all North Texans.

Illustration: cacaroot for istockphoto

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Dr. Joe May serves as Chancellor of the Dallas County Community College District, which serves more than 120,000 students annually.