Careers for the 21st Century: Using Labor Market Information (LMI) to Help Meet the Needs of Career and Technology (CTE) Students

(The Heart of Texas P-20 Council includes representatives from K-12 education, higher education and employers. They meet regularly to help coordinate efforts to launch our young people into productive lives as workers and citizens. This post is one in a monthly series of posts intended to share information about the work of this important group in our community. For more posts in this series, click here: P-20 education.)

by Christine Holecek

What is Labor Market Information (LMI)? Some people believe the LMI is largely made-up information. But it is actually information that is pulled from premier data sites. National data is found at the bureau of labor and statistics State data is found through the Texas Workforce Commission, Tracer 2 website Labor Market Information is broken down in codes. The industry codes are called NAICS, Occupational Codes are called SOC, and Training Codes are referred to as CIP.

NAICS, the North American Industry Classification System, is the standard used by Federal agencies in classifying businesses for collecting, analyzing, and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. SOC, Standard Occupation Classification – used by Federal agencies to classify workers into occupational categories for collecting, calculating, disseminating data. Workers are classified into one of over 820 occupations. Occupations are combined to form 23 major groups, 96 minor groups, and 449 broad occupations. Each broad occupation includes detailed occupation(s) requiring similar job duties, skills, education, or experience. CIP, Classification of Instructional Programs – used by the National Center for Education Statistics to collect, collate, analyze, and report full and complete statistics on the condition of education. The CIP functions as a taxonomic scheme to support the tracking, assessment, and reporting of fields of study and program completion activity.

pie chart mapWhat does the demand for talent look like in the HOT Workforce Area? Waco is considered the Metropolitan Statistical Area for Heart of Texas (HOT) Workforce Solutions. LMCI analysts and users are particularly interested in K-12 educational programming because it is a pipeline to future employees. A list of targeted occupations can be found at Careers from Aviation to Welding can be found on the targeted occupation list. In demand career clusters include: Transportation, Manufacturing, Health Care, Business, Information Technology, Law and Public Safety. Below is the occupational projections from the Heart of Texas which can be found at


How does LMI meet the need of CTE Students? LMI Matters! It aims to help develop awareness of labor market information (LMI) and to show how it can be used effectively. It is for anyone who is helping adults or young people to explore opportunities for work or further learning. Our K-12 school system is training a future workforce that helps with the recruitment and retention of employers in our region. The HOT P-20 system includes pre-K through career as the pipeline of students that move on to post-secondary after high school graduation. The Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce has identified a talent pool of future employees and encourages training the following targeted industries: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace and Defense, Supply Chain Management, Health Care, Professional and Financial Services. Independent School Districts need to focus on the Labor Market Information and the targeted industries to ensure that we prepare our students today for jobs needed by tomorrow’s employers.

Christine HolecekThis Act Locally Waco blog post was written by Christine Holecek. Christine is an Education Specialist at Education Service Center Region 12 in Waco. She has worked in the area of Adult Education and Career & Technical Education for the past 25 years. She earned an AAS degree from MCC, a BAAS and Master’s Degree from the University of North Texas and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Tarleton State University.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.

For this GWAMA Grad, the Sky is not the Limit…it’s the Goal!

by Victoria La Barre

I am a 2015 Waco High School graduate and Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy (GWAMA) alumna. GWAMA is a regional magnet program that provides classes in Welding, Robotics, and Precision Metal Manufacturing. Eleven surrounding school districts participate in the program. From my personal experience, GWAMA provides an amazing opportunity that opens many doors. As a member of the Robotics Academy, I worked through a rigorous curriculum that included electronics and robotics, multiple robotics competitions, and learning 3D printing software. I currently volunteer in the program as a mentor, tutor and instructional assistant.

GWAMA provides instruction that is geared toward hands-on learning styles which are more project-based rather than the regular old pencil, paper, and textbook approach. My senior project was the design and production of a 9-foot animatronic crocodile for Waco High’s production of Tarzan: The Disney Musical, which could snap its jaws and drive through the crowd during intermission.

After graduation, because of the hands on training and experience I received at GWAMA, I was immediately offered jobs at TSquared, Capstone Mechanical, Trane, Sonoco and VanTran. While most people my age were flipping burgers, I spent my summer working in the technical field participating in the manufacturing of high-powered transformers. This allowed me to see firsthand how members of a company team up to take an engineer’s blueprint and turn it into an actual working product. This summer job was a truly electrifying experience.

In my case, the open doors, didn’t stop there! Because of my experience working in 3D printing software, my first semester as a student at McLennan Community College, I was able to design and print a prosthetic leg for Bruno, a dog at the Humane Society. This project, and my previous experience with robotics at GWAMA, also positioned me for acceptance into the Mars Society as a member of crew 167B. This April, the Mars Society will take me and my Mars rover research project through an intensive Mars simulation in the desolate deserts of Utah. I have also been accepted as a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar, and if my application is accepted, I plan to intern at SpaceX this summer.

Cinderella Carriage (2)GWAMA isn’t only a fantastic program that helps jumpstart its students’ futures, but this program also has recently begun expanding its reach into the community. This past December, the Welding Academy created Star Wars inspired metal sculptures that were on public display at the Hippodrome while Star Wars: The Force Awakens showed at the theatre. GWAMA’s welders and members of the Precision Metal Manufacturing Academy also worked their magic to create the carriage for the musical production of Cinderella at University High School, and developed moveable props for the UHS Mighty Trojan Marching Band’s UIL show.

On the other side of the building, the Robotics Academy has introduced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to the next generation by mentoring a Lego-League robotics class in Indian Spring Middle School’s after school program. For older students interested in technology, high school girls are always welcome to join the Metallic Clouds, a Girl Scouts sponsored FIRST Robotics Competition team housed at GWAMA. (Contact Joe Rizo, Lead Robotics Mentor, at 512-787-3935 or at for more information).

Perhaps the best part of GWAMA’s curriculum is its strong support of its students’ learning. No matter what kind of technology any student is interested in, be it welding, robotics, precision metal, or rocketry, GWAMA offers all its students after-school tutoring – even on Saturdays! GWAMA also highly encourages their students to participate in highly regarded competitions, such as BEST, VEX, FRC, FTC and SkillsUSA in order to buff up students’ resumes. Speaking of resumes, students receive one-on-one interview help and resume editing assistance in preparation for the annual career fair, where students have the opportunity to meet local employers in their respective fields.

All in all, GWAMA has provided a great opportunity for me and several other students from the local region to develop a skill set that prepares us for success in the workplace, and I’m sure the program will continue to inspire its students in the future. I encourage any high schooler to seriously consider joining this program, where the sky is not the limit – it’s the goal!

Victoria La BarreVictoria La Barre loves robotics and has been on many teams. (BEST, VEX, FRC, FTC and Skills USA) She now mentors a Lego-League robotics team at Indian Springs middle school during their after-school program. She currently pursuing an electrical engineering associates degree at McLennan Community College and plans on either transferring to Texas A&M or Texas Tech University to continue a Masters degree.   For more information about GWAMA, including information about how to apply, please visit the website:

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these Aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.


Calling all Millennials to help Curb the National Debt!

by Saul Cornejo Bravo

Throughout history there have been many times when the youth, frustrated by issues affecting society, have rallied together to invoke change in our nation. In previous decades, those issues included civil rights, education, the Vietnam War, and free speech. What made the movements of these past generations successful was hope that change could be enacted and a willingness to use the collective power people hold in our democracy to achieve it. In contrast, our generation, the millennials, are currently described as too lazy, sensitive, safe-space-confined, selfie-obsessed, and self-absorbed to care about anything going on in the world. If judged by voting percentages of 18 to 29 year olds, that assertion might be correct. Millennials’ voting participation rate peaked in 2008, when 51% of the eligible voters from the youngest voting block participated that presidential election year. In contrast, during the last midterm election only about 21% voted. Because of this, politicians have had little incentive to act in our generation’s best interest. In particular, there is an urgent issue that I, along with the other members of the MCC Up to Us team, believe must be addressed because of its impact on our generation: the national debt. This debt issue threatens the future prosperity of our country and the future livelihood of young Americans through its effect on taxes, and federal spending.

The Up to Us team at McLennan College is running a national debt awareness campaign, as part of a national competition, in the hope that we can inform our peers about the issue and inspire them to take action by participating in the political process. Our campaign is non-partisan; we aren’t endorsing any political ideology, party, candidate, or even legislation. Instead, we believe this issue should transcend party lines and ideologies because Democrats and Republicans alike have gotten us to this point, and everyone will be affected by it, whether they consider themselves liberals or conservatives. Additionally, we do not want to promote intergenerational conflict, but we believe that our current political leaders, in regard to the national debt, are making decisions hurting our generations’ best interest, because the debt accumulated today will affect society tomorrow. Our main goal is to make our peers aware of the national debt and the importance of government fiscal responsibility, because our federal budget, apart from showing how we allocate our resources, demonstrates where our values and priorities lie.

After years of continued borrowing from the prosperity of future generations by running high federal budget deficits, the national debt is close to 19 trillion dollars. This debt accumulation trend, if left unaltered, could have negative consequences for our country. For example, in 2015 we spent approximately $224 billion in interest, more than we spend on education, research and development, and infrastructure– which are investments for our future– combined. Additionally, our annual interest payment is expected to more than double to $772 billion by 2025. Therefore, we must consider our priorities when thinking about increasing the national debt because we can’t fund the government through deficits indefinitely.

Currently, major drivers of the national debt are the national healthcare programs, but sadly there has been little done to make them sustainable. Over 40%, or about 1.8 trillion dollars, of our federal budget goes towards social health programs like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, with costs growing every year. For example, due to the baby boomer generation retiring, Social Security and Medicare, in particular, have become extremely costly and are unsustainable under current law. In 1960, the worker to beneficiary ratio was 5 to 1. In 2009 it reached 3 to 1, and by 2035 it’s projected to reach 2 to 1, which will make Social Security an even bigger burden on our budget. Granted, these programs are important for our society, but if we want to continue having them, we need to make them sustainable in a way that won’t sacrifice the future of our country.

Our current political leaders are heavily divided among political parties and ideologies, and are unwilling to solve the issue. This led to a government shutdown in 2013 and inaction to reduce our budget deficits. Additionally, politicians from both sides of the aisle continue to irresponsibly propose plans that could have a significant negative effect on our deficit, such as heavily increasing spending or cutting taxes, the government’s revenue, by trillions. Proposals like this borrow from the prosperity of future generations for immediate political benefits. Therefore, it is up to millennials, the generation that in the future will suffer the consequences of the decisions made today, to demand action and hold our politicians accountable by participating in the voting process. By joining together now, we can cement our legacy as the generation that ensured America’s prosperity by demanding fiscal responsibility and ensuring our resources are spent investing in our future.

Follow the McLennan College Up to US campaign on Instagram @MCCUotoUs to learn more about the national debt and follow their campaign.

Saul CornejoSaul Cornejo Bravo is a student at McLennan Community College and currently interns at First Friday Waco. He is passionate about community development and plans to transfer to UT Austin and major in Economics.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these Aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email for more information.