Understanding the Workforce Skills and Development Needs of the Houston Suburban Homeless
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This dissertation study was a qualitative, naturalistic inquiry study written in the form of a case study about the current workforce skills, skills development needs, and potential workforce skills development interventions to help assist Houston suburban homeless and at-risk homeless obtain living wage jobs. Qualitative research data was gathered from representatives from 13 different Houston suburban homeless service providers and a subset (24) of their clients using two semi-structured interview guides. Homelessness has continued to be a problematic, often hidden, issue in the suburbs. According to the literature, one of the primary reasons for homelessness is unemployment or underemployment due to a lack of education and skills. Job training has been cited in the literature as a top need for the Houston suburban homeless. This study contributes to the body of knowledge on homelessness by focusing on the suburbs, by honing in on Houston, and by examining the issue from a human resource development lens leveraging human capital theory. This study confirms similar themes in the existing literature about homelessness generally, such as the reasons for homelessness, the hidden nature of homelessness, the new face of homelessness in the suburbs, and the persistence of structural barriers to work for the suburban homeless. The study adds to the body of knowledge in terms of what specific workforce skills that suburban homeless in Houston possess (healthcare, industrial and manufacturing, and general labor/construction/landscaping) due to location and also provides more information about what types of job skills assistance the Houston suburban homeless desire (i.e., internships, apprenticeships, on-the-job training in vocational jobs, and mentorships) and need (route them toward the most in-demand vocational, middle skill job career paths in Houston). The study also provides specific recommendations grounded in the data for service providers, the Continuum of Care, Workforce Solutions, and the Department of Rehabilitative Services. The study builds on human capital theory to outline different non-structural and structural human capital investments needed by many homeless and at-risk Houston suburban homeless to achieve living wage jobs, improve their health and productivity, and become self-sustainable.
Collins, Rachele Christine (2016). Understanding the Workforce Skills and Development Needs of the Houston Suburban Homeless. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from