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Good afternoon Austin friends,

We are all still struggling with the aftermath of the winter storm. Here’s the latest tied to workforce: 

  • For your friends and constituents whose take-home pay was impacted by the February winter storm: 
    • TWC is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Workers who lost their jobs and self-employed individuals who have been unable to work due to damage sustained from the winter storm may be eligible for DUA benefits. 
      • Applications must be submitted by March 26, 2021.
  • The winter storm has exacerbated an already huge demand for skilled tradespeople.
    • Upcoming training programs for City of Austin and Travis County residents include Skillpoint Alliance’s Pre-Apprentice Plumbing(starting April 12) among other trade programs, with Local 286’ Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) beginning this summer.
    • Through RE:WorkNOW programs like these, WFS and partners provide fast-track courses for good jobs in Austin’s most in-demand industries, with supports available like child care and digital inclusion.
  • We partnered with Austin Public Health to distribute bottled water to providers to support our vulnerable parents and children. (more below)

More broadly, what’s happening in the U.S. and our Austin metro job market:

  • Still no funds in Congressional stimulus proposals for formal workforce development, despite being nearly 2x the typical unemployment level. At the time of writing, the House is set to pass a $1.9T COVID aid bill.
  • Biden Administration pledges to bolster registered apprenticeships: As part of the larger stimulus proposal, the President’s pledge indicates more funds for local organized labor associations and registered apprenticeship programs.(more below)
  • WFS’ apprenticeship programs connect local people to good jobs: WFS introduces career and technical education pathways to local students and helps fund apprenticeship programs to fill the gaps in high-paying, high-growth skilled trades jobs. (more below)
  • The latest unemployment rate: As is typical practice, TWC will release January and February unemployment data in late March.

📢 Apply today for a paid-for, vetted, and trained intern through Facebook’s Career Connections program in collaboration with WFS.

  • This fellowship program seeks businesses looking to expand digitally by housing a paid-for Facebook-trained and vetted intern in 2021! 
  • Learn more here. Apply by March 12.

In partnership, Tamara.


High schoolers across Austin commit to becoming the next generation of electricians

Offering pre-apprentice dual credit courses can benefit schools and employers alike. For schools introducing career and technical education (CTE) programs, they can gain industry input and guidance from career professionals. For participating employers, they have the opportunity to help guide the next generation of skilled workers.

Driving the news: To support the Austin metro’s skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, and construction industries, electrical contractor TRIO Electric offers a pre-apprentice dual credit course at no cost for students who want to become the future electricians of Austin.

  • The TRIO Apprenticeship Program was created in partnership between TRIO, Austin Independent School District (AISD), and Austin Community College (ACC).
    • The program is entering its third year at Navarro Early College High School and its first year at Travis Early College High School in AISD. 
    • Participating for its second year is Premier North High School in combination with Premier Pflugerville High School. The Premier schools are ResponsiveEd public charter schools offering credit recovery programs.
  • WFS has provided funding to expand this pre-apprenticeship model,partially offsetting the cost of summer internship wages with TRIO for participating students, along with funding tool kits.

Why it matters: Registered apprenticeships have been a reliable pathway to the middle class for decades – including for workers who don’t go to college – by training workers for good jobs and allowing them to earn while they learn.

By the numbers:

  • Employment for electricians in Travis County is projected to increase 14% between 2018-2028, with 3,923 projected employment in 2028.
  • The entry-level wage for electricians in the Austin metro is $16.73/hr. The median wage increases by 33% to $25.06/hr and $52,123/yr, according to TWC. 

How it works: The TRIO Pre-Apprenticeship Program teaches students how to be safe, productive, and skilled electricians as well as other employable and soft skills. 

  • The students attend virtually and safely in-person at their schools, where TRIO has built labs for the students.
    • The ACC dual credit coursework will lead students to a Level 1 College Certificate, which crosswalks with the Texas Education Agency’s Electrical 1 and 2 requirements.
  • Students also visit job sites outside of the classroom to observe electricians completing work.
  • Graduates are offered paid full-time internships in the summer at TRIO.

TRIO hosted three virtual commitment ceremonies in January for newly participating students: 31 at Travis ECHS; 33 at Navarro ECHS; and 11students from Premier.

What they’re saying:

  • Beau Pollock, president and CEO of TRIO Electric: “You were told when you enrolled that if you worked hard, TRIO will extend a job offer to you upon graduating high school. This program will lead you into a career where you can work your way into becoming a leader at TRIO, and at the same time, you can choose to work to earn money for college.”
  • Elaine Diaz is the education instructor for TRIO and has 20 years of experience working in the skilled trades: “You are students in a unique position—the entire country needs trained electricians, and you will be trained to become great electricians.”
  • Natalia Almanza, manager of High School Careers Program at ACC: “Our partnerships go beyond just helping our students—we want to help you build a pathway.”
  • Julian Alvarez, the Commissioner Representing Labor for TWC: “You will be attending school but also receiving on-the-job experience through paid internships and finally paid employment. The commitment you are making today will provide you with the knowledge and expertise that will carry you for a lifetime.” 


Biden Administration to take steps to bolster registered apprenticeships

As part of President Biden’s plan to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, he called for the jobs created to be filled by diverse, local, well-trained workers who have a choice to join a union. This starts by expanding registered apprenticeship programs and investing in pipelines into these programs.

Why it matters: WFS partners with local unions like Local 286 and organizations to cover pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training program costs through state and local (i.e., RE:WorkNOW) funding, connecting local people to in-demand jobs.

The Biden Administration pledged to take steps to bolster registered apprenticeship programs in the following ways: 

  • Reaffirm his commitment to expand registered apprenticeships to reward work, rebuild the middle-class, and connect a diverse workforce to family-supporting, living-wage jobs.
  • Reinstate the National Advisory Committee on Apprenticeships.
  • Reverse industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs), which threaten to undermine registered apprenticeship programs.

Austin’s child care providers receive bottled water at no cost from Workforce Solutions Capital Area

While the City of Austin worked hard to fix pipes and get the water flowing again, we partnered with Austin Public Health to distribute bottled water to child care providers on February 22 at the First Workers Day Labor Center.

By the numbers: 

  • In one day, our staff prepared 10 pallets of water for the 108 providers that attended, which care for 5,591 children. 
  • Those 10 pallets equaled about 750 cases or 18,000 bottles of water!

What they’re saying:

  • “I was so worried about being able to provide drinking water for the kids and staff, but this was such a relief,” said one provider. “Thank you so much for doing this and helping us!” 

The bottom line: We are committed to supporting providers in Austin who care for the children of our region’s workforce. 

  • By providing care in a safe and nurturing environment, Austin’s child care providers help develop a future workforce that is skilled and productive.
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