When Jared Pitts was just one year shy of finishing his mechanical engineering degree, he was forced to drop out of college because it was too expensive.
“Neither of my parents finished high school so I was raised that education comes first,” Jared said. “I started working two jobs in hopes of saving up enough money to go back, but I make $10 an hour and have nothing left at the end of the month.”
Jared’s dream of becoming a mechanical engineer seemed unreachable – until he found out about the ASPIRE program.
“It’s helping me achieve what I’ve tried to do for so long.”
ASPIRE is our new workforce initiative aimed at connecting hardworking people, like Jared, to better jobs and living wages. The action plan for ASPIRE is to partner with employers in Houston’s growing industries to identify middle-skill job opportunities, and connect with committed workers who are ready to acquire the skills needed to obtain these jobs.
We connected Jared to the Fluor training program for pipefitting. He attends class 40 hours a week, and continues working his full time job.
“It’s a big hill to climb, but it’s only three months,“ Jared said. "I have a natural drive, I think anybody can do anything – it’s just a matter of willpower.”
After he completes the three-month program and receives his certification, Jared plans to work at a nearby plant making $35 an hour.
BakerRipley has brought together Workforce Solutions and JPMorgan Chase as key partners to its newest program, ASPIRE. This initiative will create a pathway to build a quality workforce and address the region’s dramatic and growing need for skilled workers. Through ASPIRE, BakerRipley will move 1,000 underemployed individuals from low-wage jobs to living-wage middle-skills jobs. JPMorgan Chase has invested $1 million as part of its global New Skills at Work initiative to support ASPIRE and address the mismatch between employers’ needs and the skills of job seekers.
“Economic opportunity is increasingly out of reach for too many people,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase. “We are committed to working with partners to address this inequity by giving more Houstonians the chance to obtain the skills and education they need to get a meaningful job and to succeed.”
The key to ASPIRE’s success lies in its foundation of collaborative partners and supporters that stand with BakerRipley – Rockwell Fund, UpSkill Houston led by the Greater Houston Partnership, the United Way THRIVE, Houston Community College (HCC), San Jacinto College, Lone Star College and other community and employer partners. This region will move forward because organizations and leaders from different sectors, especially the business community, are all stepping up together to align the right resources for both skilled workers and employers.