3-minute read

Good afternoon Workforce Solutions’ Friends,

What’s happening in our Austin metro job market:

  • Driving Austin’s economic recovery: I joined other economic experts to weigh in on Austin Chamber’s latest report, which shows Austin ranks near the top of major cities in narrowing job losses since the onset of the pandemic. (more below)
  • A little financial breathing room for current unemployed: The new COVID-19 relief bill passed at the end of December called for 11 additional weeks of the federal $300 payments. TWC started sending out payments to out-of-work Texans early this month.
  • But opportunities are here and now: Employers are hiring in many fields. Refer a constituent or a friend to our no-cost rapid training program RE:WorkNOW. We offer safe, convenient virtual/hybrid trainings for jobs with long-term earning potential in Austin’s “workhorse” industries: IT, healthcare, skilled trades, and manufacturing.
  • Pflugerville workforce development: Melanie Flowers, WFS board chair and the head of technical training at Samsung Austin Semiconductor, spoke with Site Selection Magazine on our partnership with Pflugerville Community Development Corp. and how it helped strengthen the city’s workforce ecosystem during the pandemic. (more below)
  • More Austin relocations: Digital Realty Trust Inc. — a $3B+ data center owner and operator — is relocating its headquarters to Austin from San Francisco. Walker Engineering will relocate into a nearly 20,000-square-foot Pflugerville facility.

📅  You can recommend your friends and colleagues to me today for the next Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) course from February 15-26. MC3 is a nationally recognized industry certificate that helps young people and transitioning adults launch a career in one of the trades. Apply by February 8 on our website.

🎙️ “I have a new long-term goal, and that is to show other women that they can do this too.” Read more about Abigail Leighton’s journey through MC3 here.

In partnership, Tamara.


Employment data lists Austin in top 5 metros for narrowing job losses during pandemic

I had the honor of speaking with KVUE’s Matt Marut Wednesday about Austin Chamber’s report, which shows Austin rank near the top of major cities when it comes to relative job growth during the pandemic.

Driving the news: Austin ranks thirdamong metro areas that have lost the least amount of jobs during the pandemic, behind Salt Lake City and Indianapolis.

  • The region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment currently sits at 5.7%. That’s the best of all metros in Texas.

Yes, but: Austin’s unemployment rate, which does not include our many “gig workers,” is still nearly 2x pre-COVID levels.

  • This means we have available talent to train for at least some of the opportunities in themanufacturing, construction, business, and financial services sectors that carried the Austin economy from December 2019 through December 2020.
  • Face-to-face sectors like entertainment, hospitality, and accommodations suffered the most losses in the 12 months and are projected to have the longest recovery time.

What they’re saying:

  • Dr. Gretchen Riehl, associate vice president for Workforce Education at ACC: “What we had pre-COVID was what we call a skills mismatch, so we had companies with jobs to fill, and the people that were looking for jobs didn’t have the skills needed for those jobs.”
  • Other economic experts and I believe “the industries carrying Austin through the pandemic will continue to do so even after it’s over” because the city is growing so quickly.

❗  The bottom line: The pandemic has hurt many small and medium-sized businesses. WFS is here to offer help and hope. We’re getting unemployed Austinites the skills needed from home, further building Austin’s economic recovery.

  • It’s been hard for people to take training in classroom settings during the pandemic for health reasons.
  • With our rapid training program RE:WorkNOW, we offer safe, convenient virtual/hybrid trainings for jobs with long-term earning potential in Austin’s “workhorse” industries: IT, healthcare, skilled trades, and manufacturing.
  • Eligible enrollees may also receive a $200 per week stipend, with more supports available to remove every barrier so our neighbors can get back to work quickly.


How Pflugerville built a workforce ecosystem during the pandemic

The global pandemic and corresponding recession forced companies and communities to devise new ways to connect people and work. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it is that only the nimblest organizations will thrive.

Driving the news: Site Selection Magazine profiled Austin suburb Pflugerville’s public-private workforce development effort — including WFS, Pflugerville Community Development Corp. (PCDC), and Pflugerville Public Library — that “sets the standard for the capital region of Texas.”

The big picture: Through the global pandemic and corresponding recession, PCDC was the catalyst for bringing together partnerships that filled workforce gaps and put many people back to work. 

  • A key partner is WFS, responsible for organizing the Austin area’s employment ecosystem.

“Our partnership shows the full ecosystem at work. It includes training providers, educators, job seekers, employers, PCDC and Workforce Solutions.”

Melanie Flowers, WFS board chair and head of technical training at Samsung Austin Semiconductor

Details: WFS collaborates with and supports PCDC on several workforce development initiatives.

  • High-Demand Job Training Grant (2019): PCDC matched WFS funding and expanded career training programs for high school seniors to prepare them for careers in the EMT field.
  • We purchased $300K of equipment for EMT Training, allowing students to be eligible for certification as EMTs after completing the program.
  • High-Demand Job Training Grant (2020): The Pflugerville Manufacturing Academy was established with these funds, with partners including Austin Community College (ACC) and Pflugerville Public Library. 
    • The academy trains students to become entry-level workers in the advanced and additive manufacturing sector, which has demonstrated its capability to adapt, retool and respond to the need for masks and ventilators during the pandemic.
  • Skills Development Fund Covid-19 Special Initiative: We offer supervisor training targeting front-line team leaders to support Pflugerville manufacturing plants like Community Impact Printing.
    • Supervisors learn leadership principles to help them overcome challenges presented by COVID-19.
  • WFS’ Career Education and Specialist Outreach Program: This program, funded by TWC, raises awareness of manufacturing careers in Pflugerville ISD. 
    • WFS outreach specialists work with students in grades 6-12 in five Austin area school districts: Austin, Del Valle, Elgin, Manor, and Pflugerville.

What they’re saying:

  • Melanie Flowers, WFS board chair and head of technical training at Samsung Austin Semiconductor: “Our partnership shows the full ecosystem at work. It includes training providers, educators, job seekers, employers, PCDC and Workforce Solutions.”
  • Dr. Laura Marmolejo, chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Department at ACC: “Nowadays, you have to think out of the box. Traditional methods don’t work anymore. That’s why we’re offering virtual training day and night and offering training on the equipment at the job site.
    • “As companies continue to move to Pflugerville and other places in the Austin area, demand for flexible training is growing. We’re working with Workforce Solutions to give current workers an opportunity to redirect their future into industries that are growing.”
  • Read more perspectives here.

Worth your time: Amazon and the PCDC will collaborate with job boards like WFS to assist with hiring fairs and recruitment processes.

  • Making its mark in Central Texas, Amazon is investing $250M in Pflugerville, bringing 1,000 new full-time jobs and building a 3.8 million-square-foot fulfillment center that is marking a new chapter for the city’s economic landscape. 
  • WFS held 36 virtual job fairs from April – December 2020, with 5,159 job seekers and759 employers participating.

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