AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — As more jobs are coming to the Amarillo area, including the relatively new presence of Cacique and Amazon within the community, and as the Texas Panhandle continues to have the lowest unemployment rate throughout the state, one nonprofit organization aims to bring leaders throughout the community together to help build career pathways in the region for both students and area residents.

According to its website, the Panhandle Community Partnership is an organization that is bringing together local leaders from business, government, education, nonprofit and economic development to help build pathways to help students and area residents attain knowledge and skills that eventually leads to family-sustaining wage careers.

The organization’s vision for the Texas Panhandle, according to its website, is to “be a place with a ‘culture of universal achievement,’ a place where everyone’s success matters.” The different partners aim to create “clearly defined and accessible pathways to post-secondary credentials and living wage employment for all residents, supported by systems and resources that enable individuals to achieve their full career potential.”

According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the organization recently came together for a workforce education-centered event, highlighting efforts and initiatives to improve education and workforce outcomes through the Texas Panhandle region, as well as the role of community partnerships in the initiatives. Attendees also heard about area trends and workforce data from the latest census and how it could apply to the workforce.

Kimberly Anderson, the program officer for the Panhandle Community Partnership, said the organization is a cross-sector partnership, working to achieve new career pathways overcoming barriers that are in the way for residents to achieve career goals. Anderson said that by aligning systems and sharing resources to remove those barriers, there could be more opportunities to build a talent pipeline within the Texas Panhandle and create a better quality of life for all Panhandle residents.

“How do we keep our students here? How do we show them that there are jobs here in the Panhandle that can pay them that family-sustaining wage and fulfill their career goals?” Anderson asked. “We focus a lot on looking for those steps along a career pathway that the starting points and the skills that students or residents can gain from those starting point jobs that can platform them into next-level jobs that increase their earning potential and then, in doing that, increase their quality of life.”

Some of the barriers Anderson referenced included access to childcare for workers throughout the city, as well as the overall knowledge of what resources are available to students and residents.

“We find a lot of times, students and residents do not know what’s available to them. They don’t know what opportunities are out there and they aren’t aware of how being in this position gives me skills and credentials that can help me get into a new position,” she said. “We want to highlight that. We want to create tools and resources that help our counselors, our career counselors, our businesses, our organizations bring light to those positions and those opportunities for our students.” 

But the organization also wants to highlight the growth opportunities these jobs can bring. Anderson said every job can help individuals develop skill sets in what they want to do as a dream job in the future.

“There’s growth opportunities in every job. Every job is going to give you experience and skills that can help qualify you for a step up, for a job that pays more or a job that aligns with your passion and your gifting and what you want to do,” she said. “As we see more jobs coming into the area, some of them are really good paying jobs but they’re hard on your body. You might not want to stay with them your whole life but they can give you skills, they can give you opportunities, they can give you experience that when you are looking at moving to your next step on your career path, they can help qualify you for that and will help open your eyes to opportunities and talents you didn’t know you had.”

Anderson said the Amarillo area is blessed to have so many opportunities for jobs. However, she believes it is going to take the whole city to come together to take a look at the barriers that could prevent individuals from working, making sure that both old and new businesses can be supported.

“My partners are going to be very busy and working very hard to work with these new companies, work with these existing businesses, to fill those jobs and to help set us up to have the best environment for it,” she said.

For more information about the Panhandle Community Partnership, visit its website.