Austin’s economy continues to grow, with a record low unemployment rate. For local employers, this can make hiring and retaining workers a challenge. Fortunately, solutions exist to expedite the hiring process, such as the On-the-Job Training program (OJT) offered by Workforce Solutions Capital Area.
Participating employers sign a training agreement with Workforce Solutions Capital Area and hire eligible OJT candidates. Participating employers may receive a 50 percent reimbursement on a 40-hour work week for full-time employment opportunities for three months.
One employer that has found success and satisfaction with the OJT program is Mechanical and Process Systems LLC (MPS). MPS is a construction contractor specializing in piping systems, HVAC installation, industrial process systems, plumbing, ductwork and more. MPS was founded in 2003 and today employs 33 people.
MPS is a State of Texas Certified Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) vendor, and a City of Austin Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) vendor, indicating their commitment to employing and training underrepresented populations.
In May 2018, the company, which is a member of Plumber & Pipefitters Local Union 286, began participating in the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program with Workforce Solutions. Mark Mapes, Plumbing Superintendent at MPS, attended the union’s May 2018 pre-apprenticeship class and met the graduates. At the pre-apprenticeship class, Joe Cooper, the training director at the union and a member of Workforce Solutions’ Board of Directors, introduced MPS to Workforce Solutions’ staff. MPS decided to enter the OJT program and in June 2018 hired four of the graduates from the class.
Catherine Mendez, Office Manager at MPS, helps coordinate the company’s involvement in the program, and found it to be a positive experience for workers, as well as an enlightening one.
“I think it is a good way for younger people to see there is more here than just graduating high school and going into tech,” she said. “There is still demand for skilled trades, and I am a firm believer that getting these people to work is a good idea.”
Mark said, “I was impressed by the resources Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers for these young workers. They can receive assistance for gas and tools, and that really helps them out in the long run by having the necessary tools to do their jobs well.”
“MPS clearly understands the value of apprenticeship models and other training programs such as OJT to build a region’s workforce,” said Lee Pendleton, Business Solutions Manager at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.
“Our new workers have never worked in the construction industry before, but they are catching on quickly,” said Mark. “They are more than willing to learn all they can. They have goals to work to support their families, so their minds are in the right place to move forward.”
Michele Tamo-Wafo, one of the four candidates, has found the experience a beneficial one. “I’ve been looking for a job that could guarantee me a better future, and this experience has been great and benefitable. The professional skills I’m learning are perfect,” he said.
“What I enjoy the most is learning hands-on in the field.” Michele said. “People looking for work opportunities should join one of Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s programs, because they have a lot of opportunity.”
Employers can find many benefits by participating in the OJT program, such as reducing the costs related to hiring, according to Mark.
“I think it is a good deal because the employer can hire younger people that may not necessarily know if they want to be in this trade and evaluate the employee before committing fully,” Mark said. “It good to have another resource to help with wages, and the additional resources from Workforce Solutions Capital Area are an incentive for employers to participate.”
Catherine said, “I’d like to add the paperwork on my end is easy, and I am very thankful for that.”
Workers can also benefit by receiving an opportunity to experience a new occupation without committing to something they may want to leave later.
“This gives the employees a chance to learn a trade and to actually decide if they want to be in the trade without committing and later giving up,” said Mark.
“Workers receive guidance and help, and employers receive resources for hiring. It’s a win-win situation,” said Catherine.
Today, the four hires are working in plumbing and pipefitting, and learning how to weld. Three of the new hires joined Local 286 and are training as apprentices. With new skills and responsibilities, the three apprentices are now earning $16 an hour.
“As a small company, MPS understands the value of innovation and cooperation,” said Lee.
About On-the-Job Training
To help employers acquire the skilled workers they need, Workforce Solutions Capital Area can fund on-the-job training for eligible individuals. The new hires will learn job skills while working full-time. Pending eligibility, Workforce Solutions Capital Area may reimburse the employer for up to 50 percent of the new hire’s salary for up to three months.
Interested employers must commit to hiring and retaining the individuals who successfully complete their training programs. To learn more about available assistance for employers, visit our Employee Services page.