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Developing The Workforce Of The Future In Pearland


The U.S. is still navigating the labor shortage, and the latest data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows there are over 10 million job openings but only 5.7 million unemployed workers.

Part of the issue is a lack of talent needed to fill in the gap, including in Pearland, a city just south of Houston.

Pearland is finding unique solutions to promote workforce development not only in the city but in surrounding areas as well. The Pearland Economic Development Corp., the entity that serves as a catalyst to create private investment to diversify the city's economic base, is creating programs to help job seekers find better employment, with a focus on collaborating with local organizations to help the community find the workers it needs. 

“PEDC not only wants to find talent early, but we look to showcase the right employment opportunities to help recruit, nurture and retain the talent within the community,” PEDC Workforce Director Mou Sarkar said. “By collaborating with public, private and nonprofit partners and universities, we can help close the job gaps while utilizing existing and new resources to respond to the economic needs of the city.”

One of the programs Sarkar has worked to develop in her role with PEDC is WorkInPearland, an interactive virtual job portal launched in March by the Pearland Chamber of Commerce and the PEDC. WorkInPearland is a place where participants can reach out to employers, workforce support services, colleges and other resources via a one-stop, comprehensive website. 

“The inspiration behind WorkInPearland is to create better business connections in the city and showcase them to the community,” she said. “We hope to attract job seekers from within a 45-minute drive time radius around the city and the more than 30,000 people commuting out of Pearland for jobs to these great companies hiring in the city.”

What makes WorkInPearland stand out from other job boards is the multifaceted personal interaction, she said. It's a trade show, job board, business networking forum, chatroom and workforce resource center rolled into one. By showcasing businesses to job seekers, allowing employers to screen candidates, reaching out directly to the community and creating accessible workforce resources, it is really an “all-inclusive platform” that people can access on their laptops and mobile devices, she said. 

WorkInPearland also hosts virtual hiring events aimed at elevating the experience of connecting Pearland employers and local employees. 

“Not only does it allow people to log in in the comfort of home, but users have 24/7 access,” Sarkar said. “Whether a business person or a job seeker wants to reach out to a rep or engage in a conversation, the chat button is there, and there’s a steady flow of communication to help keep the workforce pipeline going.” 

She said that as people become increasingly comfortable conducting the entire job hunting and hiring process at home, WorkInPearland has been able to produce some impressive results. The site received more than 1,000 booth visits and over 100 applicants since its launch. 

“In our big push to Houston and the surrounding cities, we see this becoming the future of hiring locally,” she said. 

Another program that has seen success is the Pearland Innovation Hub, a PEDC initiative under the Pearland Prosperity community strategic plan that provides entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses with valuable programming, events and resources to start, scale and succeed. 

“The Innovation Hub connects small businesses and entrepreneurs with consultation services, mentors and advisers to help them take the next steps in their branding,” Pearland Innovation Hub Navigator Brandy Guidry said.

Funded by the PEDC, the Innovation Hub helps stimulate growth through youth outreach, curating different events and creating sponsorship opportunities and internships. 

Guidry said that the Innovation Hub aims to not only create more job opportunities but also new ways to grow businesses, especially in underserved communities.

“From helping entrepreneurs get money through microlending and crowdfunding to administrative support, we want to be with them at each stage of their businesses,” she said. “Pearland is a member of the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C., which has helped us get more capital for startups in underrepresented communities.”

The Innovation Hub continues to push the envelope with its Pro-Active Coaching Program, which was launched last summer to help new businesses reach out to entrepreneurship assistance programs, service providers and funding sources in unique ways. Also, the Innovation Hub has innovation-focused events to create new economic opportunities.

“We have reverse pitch competitions, ideation and business competitions, and hack-a-thons to connect businesses, graphic designers, computer programmers and sponsors to help maximize growth potential and economic development,” Guidry said.

PEDC’s goal through its workforce development programs is to create a steady and constant connection between employers, job seekers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. 

“Whether it’s digitally or in person, we’ve been able to widen our network with an adaptability and flexibility never seen before in Pearland,” Sarkar said. “We want to continue providing quality resources and connections to help develop Pearland’s existing and future workforce.” 

This article was produced in collaboration between Pearland Economic Development Corp. and Studio B. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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