Generation Houston Inaugural Graduation

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A ceremony held at the recently completed C3 project for the Greater Houston Partnership in Partnership Tower has the potential to impact the construction workforce in the Houston region for decades to come.

The ceremony honored the inaugural class of 17 graduates of Generation Houston, a collaboration of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Upskill Houston, United Way, and Generation, a 501(c)(3) social initiative sponsored by McKinsey & Company and other major sponsors.

The four week, fast track program was aimed at individuals who express an interest in the construction industry as a career and offers them training in life, safety, social and career skills. The United Way Thrive program provides the candidates and the screening of the individuals who are eligible for the training. McKinsey’s Generation provides the instruction. Upskill engaged the employers from the construction industry who will be the ultimate employers of those certified graduates who decide to enter the industry as a way to build a career that will provide an improved standard of living for their families.

According to Gina Luna, Founder and president of Luna Strategies and chair of the Upskill program, Generation Houston is focused on bridging the gap between employers searching for new talented employees and those individuals with drive and latent talent who are unaware of the career opportunities available in both the commercial and industrial construction. She explained that the availability of a skilled workforce is key to the long-term success of the construction industry of the Greater Houston Region.

Luna stated, “Opportunities abound to lead and manage in a career in construction that will build the new Houston of the future.”

Amy Carron, AVP Community Impact of United Way of Greater Houston, said that her program is working with 20 organizations across the region. She congratulated the graduates and gave an example from another construction program where the industrial infrastructure firm S&B Engineers and Constructors trained 16 women to be pipefitters and journeyman in the industrial construction industry. She told the story of one of the women who is a single parent of four children and how she tripled her income after successfully completing that program. In the process, she learned how to pay down her debt, manage her finances and provide a career for herself and her family. That was just one of the stories of the type of opportunity that exists for women and men in the industry.

The keynote speech delivered by Mike Holland, COO of Marek, a diversified interior construction firm headquartered in Houston, focused on the importance of craft training to the sustainability of the construction workforce. Holland congratulated the graduates and urged them to continue to use their talents and to make their careers in construction. He explained the importance of workforce development in the Marek companies from its beginnings through today.

Holland challenged his peer companies to invest in workforce development as a way to create a sustainable workforce for the future. He told the graduates that the Marek workforce development program was an expression of Marek’s motto of building “Strength from Within.” He said that for the employers it makes good business sense to train and develop the craft skills of their workforce as the demands for higher quality buildings increase.

He cited the collaboration of organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF), the Associated General Contractors, the Construction Career Collaborative (C3), community colleges, community based organizations and Generation who are “all dedicated to collaboratively ensuring that quality craft training is delivered at a high level.” He said that the 17 graduates of the first class of Generation Houston are “proof points” of that collaboration throughout the industry.

Nikhil Patel, Partner at McKinsey & Company Houston, spoke of the importance of Generation and reminded the graduates that not only have they distinguished themselves and the families who support them, they have become part of a network of over 8,000 Generation graduates around the world. He urged the class to remember that network as they enter the workforce in the Houston region.

Sophia Guevara, Fellow at the Greater Houston Partnership, awarded certificates of completion to the 17 members of the inaugural class to the applause of their families and classmates in the room.

Christopher Merino, one of the graduates of the program spoke of his experiences by thanking his class members and telling what an “eye opener” Generation was for him. It opened his eyes to the new opportunities that are available to him after completing the program.

Congratulations to the sponsors, the employers and organizations who made the day possible and special kudos to the graduates who will develop their careers and make a difference in the construction industry of the future.

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