Lawmakers in the Texas Senate passed a bill Wednesday to keep the state workforce competitive by helping Texans attain technical degrees as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The bill, SB 441, would establish the Texas Fast Start Program to facilitate state-wide, competency-based workforce development and education. Administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the commission, the program is designed to support rapid-deployment education delivery models for use in public junior and state colleges as well as public technical institutes. Models used under the program have to maximize academic or workforce education program credits to accelerate students into the workforce, saving Texans time, money and classroom space.
Governor Rick Perry supported the approved legislation, saying it “keeps Texas’ workforce at the top of its game and ensures employers have the qualified workers they need to fill high demand fields,” in an official statement May 15.
According the bill, a fast start program offered by a public junior college, public state college, or public technical institute must meet the following requirements:
- focus on the current and future needs of employers in this state;
- enable students to obtain post-secondary certificates and degrees at an accelerated pace in high-demand fields or occupations, as identified by local employers;
- incorporate competency-based learning techniques;
- feature a variety of access channels that are uniquely designed to maximize job preparedness for identified groups such as veterans, high school graduates, and current workforce members seeking retraining; and
- be designed for rapid deployment statewide.
Before the bill becomes law, it must pass the House and be signed by Governor Perry.