Expanding the DRC’s commitment to talent

By Jarrad Toussant, Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce, and Elizabeth Caudill McClain, Senior Vice President of Talent Strategies

The Dallas Regional Chamber (DRC) officially launched its 2024-2026 strategic plan, “Building Tomorrow Together,” in January. Our senior leaders penned blogs about each of the four focus areas of the new plan, the track record of success they are building on, and what they will focus on in 2024.

Jarrad Toussant, Senior Vice President of Education & Workforce
Elizabeth Caudill McClain, Senior Vice President of Talent Strategies

The DRC has long made the case that the economic success of our region is dependent on the quality of our talent pipeline, from early childhood through K-12 and higher education to a career.

We’ve tackled many initiatives and advocacy endeavors in pursuit of a stronger talent pipeline, and we’ve made great strides that have led to major expansions in our Education, Talent & Workforce strategic work for the 2024-2026 strategic plan with the aim to serve our members while also benefitting our region.

A historic budget surplus presented the 88th Texas Legislature in 2023 with an unprecedented opportunity to invest in our educational institutions. The DRC’s Education & Workforce team, in close collaboration with our Public Policy team, spent significant time at the Capitol advocating for investment during the regular session and the subsequent special sessions —and it paid off.

The legislature passed nine key bills amounting to $4.5 billion invested in Texas’ education systems, including an investment in pre-K-12 curriculum reform and a new higher education research funding stream to support innovation in the region. Our recently published DFW Higher Education Review backs up our claim that Dallas-Fort Worth is the No. 1 region for higher education in Texas and showcases the sort of innovation this investment will support.

In a big win, the legislature passed House Bill 8, which allocates $700 million to community college funding and marks a transformational shift in the way Texas funds community college systems to a focus on student and employment outcomes. The bill’s passage marked the culmination of a two-year effort by the DRC and our members.

The DRC’s Good for Texans campaign helped pass an optional property tax exemption for qualifying child care facilities, which we believe will help provide more sustainability and lower costs for parents and caregivers. This is yet another tool in our belt as we work toward expanded access to quality child care for our communities.

New data from last year suggests efforts by the DRC and our community partners to strengthen the region’s talent pipeline are working. Since 2012, the number of young adults in Dallas County earning an associate degree and a living wage has increased by 10 percentage points and 6 percentage points, respectively. Improvement in these areas is a key goal of our Dallas Thrives initiative, which aims to break the cycle of poverty by helping more young adults attain a living wage.

We’re deeply proud of the progress we’ve made through our strategic commitment to education and workforce, and we’ll continue to strive for progress in these areas under the 2024-2026 strategic plan—but with a new formalized commitment to talent.

In response to feedback from DRC members, we’re elevating and prioritizing how we support companies’ efforts to implement processes and systems that get them the talent they need. This includes connections to and resources for recruitment and retention strategies and upskilling and reskilling current members of the workforce.

Of course, the DRC’s Leadership Programs are a key part of this strategy as they provide the programs and coaching necessary to develop the leaders our companies need while priming them to serve the needs of our region—a win-win for the Dallas Region.

With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, we’ll soon launch a new Talent Pipeline portal, which will provide unique analytics to help support better talent pool development and access in the health care and IT sectors—which both experience challenges in recruiting quality talent in our region.

To further support the talent pipelines for IT and health care, the DRC will relaunch our widely regarded regional industry marketing campaigns, “Say Yes to Health Care in Dallas” and “Say Yes to Tech in Dallas”. This relaunch will introduce new outreach and remarketing content targeting young adults in the Dallas region to increase exposure to high-wage, high-demand occupations.

We’re also reshaping our Talent Attraction Council to be the Talent Task Force, allowing us to expand our work and support to our member companies to include talent retention and development.

Our teams will be working closely together to maintain and grow the education and workforce support you’ve come to expect from the DRC while growing our strategies for talent recruitment, retention, and development to make sure our companies have high-quality educated workers while helping ensure all current and future workers of the Dallas Region have the chance to lead a fulfilling life and career.