Public transport jobs, affordability concerns added as priorities for the region’s vocational training plan

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Career training officials focus on rising cost of housing in the Austin area as one of the issues that can be addressed through education and early placement with major employers in need of workers .

Workforce Solutions Capital Area is putting the finishing touches on its new Hire Locally campaign, which is an update to the 2017 Community Workforce Plan that focused on healthcare, information technology , skilled trades and advanced manufacturing as the four areas with the highest demand and job growth. potential. The organization is expected to complete the plan next month and launch it in January, with a series of community engagement sessions that will address the need to raise awareness of training courses and the income potential for low-income residents.

Tamara Atkinson, CEO of Workforce Solutions, said transportation and construction jobs tied to the multibillion-dollar Project Connect transit plan is an additional area of ​​opportunity for those looking for new career options. Data from the organization shows that low-income registrants who start jobs in their selected fields tend to see their incomes increase by $ 30,000 per year.

“We learned a lot about the community’s needs for a skilled workforce, and along the way, many things have changed even though our mission remains the same. Thanks to Covid, a number of people have been disproportionately affected, meaning the prosperity of low unemployment, job opportunities and financial gains in many of these industries have gone unseen. by everyone in the community, ”she said.

“The local hiring plan aims to ensure that we take care of the under-represented parts of the population so that they can get the qualified training to compete for the creation of good jobs in a strong economy. “

Workforce Solutions serves as the primary clearinghouse for job training programs in the Austin area and works with Austin Community College, Skillpoint Alliance, Goodwill Industries, and other community organizations that can help meet the hiring needs of employees. Leading employers like Tesla, Samsung Austin Semiconductor Manufacturing and Athena. The updated plan does not require approval from City Council or Travis County Commissioners’ Court, although both entities have contracts with Workforce Solutions for services such as job training, job placement and child care. ‘children.

Last year, the City and County of Travis agreed to provide $ 3.2 million to fund Workforce Solutions’ RE: WorkNOW program which was created to get 260 people back to work in the wake of the pandemic. RE: WorkNOW has also been identified as the main source of potential new plumbers to meet the acute need following winter storm Uri in February.

Kevin Brackmeyer, Executive Director of Skillpoint Alliance, said Hire Local’s focus on awareness and awareness will be important, as recent experiences show that low-income applicants are unaware of the job opportunities available to them. offered through free training programs. Skillpoint Alliance trains up to 200 people per year in its various skilled trades courses, and its most recent funding from the Town and County of Travis was just over $ 550,000.

“If you take Samsung Austin Semiconductor, at one point when I was talking to someone there there were 30 positions open,” he said. “Tesla is the same and Athena Manufacturing has a lot of open positions, and recently the CEO there said they had 20 openings. It is simply a matter of finding the people who can make a career in these positions and of publicizing the free training available to them.

Brackmeyer said demand for workers covered by local training programs is expected to reach more than 15,000 over the next two years.

“The need is there and our work and that of Workforce Solutions and other organizations are driven by this demand,” he said. “We understand that some industries are more in demand than others, and we see students hiring right after graduation. “

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