Elected officials, educators discuss the future of workforce education in Lubbock

Graphic on college graduate wages
Graphic on college graduate wages(KCBD)
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 4:51 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock business leaders and elected officials met on Wednesday to discuss the future of workforce education across West Texas.

There’s a growing need for workers in rural communities across Texas.

Lubbock is the largest urban center serving the vast rural area of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. Jobs in the area have grown by 9,802 over the last five years and are projected to grow by another 9,705 over the next five years. Healthcare and education sectors make up one-quarter of the Lubbock Metropolitan Statistical Area’s total employment.

Dr. Lori Rice-Spearman, President of Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, says, “One of our goals is to bring students into our communities, into our facilities and get hands-on experience and see what it is like to be in that role.”

Rice-Spearman says preparing students with a hands-on experience in the workforce is a top priority at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. She says filtering those students into the Lubbock workforce is vital for our community.

“It is important for those students to see what it is like to be in that role, as a physician, as a nurse, a therapist, and really get a feel for what it would be like to be in that role in our community so they will stay in our community,” Rice-Spearman said.

Rice-Spearman says that a thriving healthcare system is critical to Lubbock’s economy. Many people move to Lubbock for job opportunities or higher education. She says the Health Sciences Center provides both.

“We have about a $2 billion dollar impact across that state of Texas economically and we generate about 12,500 jobs across all of West Texas and the communities we serve.”

With the legislative session coming up, Lubbock Representatives hope to remind the legislature of Lubbock’s economic growth. Becky Calahan says she will be advocating for Lubbock educators in Austin.

“Communities like Lubbock and rural Texas, many of our representatives represent those areas that have thriving community ecosystem of education and workforce and we bring that message to the state that there is that thriving opportunity and state policies can help make that go further,” Calahan said.