Dallas Leaders Hold State of the Workforce

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Dallas-area leaders united Tuesday afternoon for the State of the Workforce, a discussion about COVID-19 and its impact on jobs in the Dallas-area.

Although record unemployment claims have now stabilized, leaders said the region is still not where it needs to be.

They’re looking for ways to get people back to work and creating a strong workforce for school children along the way.

Kendra Koprovich went from enjoying office parties in her sales recruiting career to being laid off, first temporarily, and then permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve just been continually job searching, applying for jobs, trying to look for work but I just have not had a lot of luck,” she said.  “When you get something back, it’s usually way under the pay grade that you initially were used to making.”

The Mansfield resident’s stress was recently compounded when her 74-year-old father was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Fortunately, he is on the mend.

Koprovich is among millions of Texans who lost their job during the pandemic.

Since March, the Texas Workforce Commission has received nearly 800,000 unemployment claims from North Texans.

The numbers have stabilized a bit, according to TWC Commissioner Bryan Daniel.

“It’s stable but it’s not in a condition that we would like to see it so we’re continuing to do work,” he said during the virtual meeting.

Workforce and education leaders gathered to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on jobs, the economic recovery ahead and how to address employment needs now and in the future through inclusion and innovation.

Daniel touted the TWC’s free, online training and education platform offering anyone the opportunity to learn in-demand job skills.

“If you’re thinking this is a great time for me to find some online training that’ll help me polish off my skills and be ready to go when I get back to work, that’s exactly what it’s for,” he said. “For someone who finds themselves on unemployment benefits, not sure where they’re going to go next for a job, work on that training. It gives you some opportunities to explore some careers that you might not otherwise have thought about.”

The State of the Workforce also unveiled a new initiative called ‘Dallas Thrives.’

Its goal is to double living wages of young adults in Dallas, especially among Black and Latino youth.

Data shows a large percentage of out-of-work youth in Dallas lacks post-secondary education.

Laurie Bouillion Larrea, President and CEO of Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas stressed the importance of training people who’ve found themselves out of work because of the health emergency, including families with children not going to daycare.

“It’s very important that they are right now,” she said. “Get them the credential because good paying jobs come with investment in yourself.

Larrea also recalled seven or eight successful virtual job fairs through the group's Facebook page.

“Featuring [human resource] directors so they can be telling people about their jobs and creating much more of a connection than we did in public,” she said.

 Larrea added that the Dallas workforce has actually expanded since the spring.

“Our workforce expanded but we’ve got to see those wages,” she said. “What do we want to see in Dallas? We want to see a strong, majority middle class. People who can actually afford life, and the connectivity and the food on the table. That’s the change we need to contribute to.”

Asked whether a virtual job fair is something that would help in her job search, Koprovich notes the job fairs she’s seen have been for lower-paying positions.

She’d like to see a job fair where “you can start at a certain pay grade, $70,000 and above. ‘We’re looking for these type of individuals.’”

Koprovich is pushing forward, eying a new career in real estate.

She encourages others in her same situation to think outside the box.

“Just try to stay very motivated and keep a positive mindset,” she said.

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