In addition to an ample supply of local talent, people drive up-to-an hour for the employment opportunities here. And with each month, our 26-county area labor force continues to grow. Between 2000 and 2011, the labor force grew by 15.6%. And our labor participation rate exceeds national and state averages, with 80% of the occupations listed in the employer survey either easily available for hiring, or can be easily recruited from the local labor force with modest effort.
We help ensure this pool of highly qualified employees remain that way with a number of ongoing training programs. We work closely with the Amarillo College to create specialized training programs to meet the specific needs of local employers like Bell Helicopter and Gestamp Renewable Industries.
Our metro area has a younger population than the nation. Forecasts show the area’s median age will remain below the national median over the next five years. This low median age is led by a high percentage of residents below the age of 35, an indicator of a strong future workforce.
The area has a generally well-educated population. Twenty-two percent of the area’s residents have a four-year college degree and 83.2% have a high school diploma (compared to the state average of 79.8%.) We have both a four-year university, West Texas A&M University, and a two-year college, Amarillo College, both of which receive high marks from area employers for the quality of their programs and graduates. Just some of the degree programs offered include:
Employers receive financial assistance with ongoing training needs of their staff through the Texas Skills Development Fund. More than $25 million has been made available to finance job training through local colleges or technical schools for both new and existing jobs.
In rare circumstances when the local workforce can’t meet a company’s needs, it is easy to attract talent from other parts of the country. The area’s quality of life, including housing affordability and availability, and small-city living in an economically vibrant state, is a big draw.