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Good afternoon Workforce Solutions Capital Area Friends and Allies,

On Friday, thanks to the financial support secured by the City of Austin and Travis County, Workforce Solutions Capital Area formally launched Phase 1 of RE:WorkNOW (more below). As I shared with many of you last week, RE:WorkNOW lets our 50,000 unemployed neighbors know we are thinking about them and would like them to connect to our new digital Access Hub and 260 full scholarships into a range of rapid training programs, a $200/week stipend, and WFS support services. Our comprehensive digital outreach plan represents WFS more firmly entering into the digital arena to directly and consistently engage tens of thousands of local jobless and the underemployed. With this launch, and as we monitor our digital outreach strategy, we will “RE:Try,” “RE:Test,” and“RE:Calibrate” to get the maximum traffic into our RE:WorkNOW Access Hub.

I’m so thankful to Austin Community College District, Local 286, Skillpoint Alliance, Tech Talent South, and Digital Creative Institute. These partners were critical to this effort. They responded within a very short window to provide their training in a safe, rapid format. They provided a lot of information rapidly so we could rapidly and digitally communicate to interested residents and facilitate their enrollment. They have remained a steadfast partner as we have boldly walked into a more digital approach to this effort.

During the pandemic, all businesses and organizations have needed to revisit their core principles. At Workforce Solutions Capital Area, we also reviewed ours. We are about connecting local people to local jobs. And with current local unemployment at levels not seen in four decades, we have confirmed that our mission is more relevant than ever. We work hard together as a team to connect local people to local jobs. Our team has really come together, and I feel immensely lucky to lead an organization of such exemplary people as we serve our community and seek out new ways to connect local people to local jobs.

In partnership, Tamara


Workforce Solutions Capital Area launches RE:WorkNOW, a rapid retraining and reskilling initiative with City, County backing

On Friday, WFS launched RE:WorkNOW, a months-long, direct outreach effort to Travis County’s jobless, thanks to financial support secured by the City of Austin and Travis County.

Driving the news: RE:WorkNOW Phase 1 is a rapid training effortwithin the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan, designed to help 260 of the City of Austin and Travis County’s approximately 50,000 jobless residents connect to free, rapid, and safe training.

Details: Participating training providers have restructured key training offerings into a safer virtual or a hybrid setting, with support from WFS.

  • Courses can take up to 12 weeks, are aligned with industry expectations, and will result in better jobs at better wages. 
  • These no-cost, rapid training programs will be provided by Austin Community College District, Local 286 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union, Skillpoint Alliance, Digital Creative Institute, and Tech Talent South.  
  • RE:Work NOW offers a diverse range of trainings — in welding, HVAC, plumbing,  cybersecurity, and more — and we will add new offerings based on demand. 

Of note: Through Workforce Capital Area,enrollees in RE:WorkNOW training courseswill receive $200 weekly stipends, career advising, and placement. Childcare, transportation, and digital inclusion will also be provided as needed.

  • Space is limited, and enrollment into the approved courses are first-come, first served.

What’s next: WFS launched a highly targeted digital outreach plan to talk directly with the local unemployed and underemployed. This outreach effort is in addition to calls and emails we make directly to the thousands of jobless claimants to help guide them through their reemployment journey.

  • In a few clicks, recipients will be able toland at the brand new RE:WorkNow Access Hub.
  • On the RE:WorkNow Access Hub, unemployed or underemployed residents can answer a few questions and digitally connect to rapid training programs in their area of interest.

Yes, but: To fund Phase 2, federal stimulus talks will need to provide workforce development and state and local funds to assist in stimulating the economy.

  • WFS estimates an additional $67M will make a dramatic impact sufficient to help thousands of additional local people who have lost jobs amid the pandemic to train and start a new career.


Toward a more equitable workforce in Austin: WFS and partners work to break down barriers for Black and Latinx job seekers

In the spirit of continuous improvement, ready to have difficult conversations about racial disparities in our local workforce system, Third Sector partnered with Workforce Solutions Capital Area, the Ray Marshall Center at the University of Texas, and the Travis County Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate a series of three workshops for 40 Austin area workforce leaders, including community-based organizations and community colleges. 

  • Thanks to the Community Workforce Plan stakeholders who participated.

Why it matters: The result of these three workshops was deeper conversations within a group of CWP stakeholders about systemic racism and its effect on the workforce plan, which has an overall goal of 10,000 residents living at or below 200% of poverty securing middle-skill jobs by 2021. 

Details: Through workshops, participants practiced a complete continuous improvement process — identifying challenges, examining and prioritizing root causes, and developing an action plan to prototype and test solutions. 

  • Workshop 1 delved into the challenge of retaining people of color in training and certificate programs.
  • Workshop 2 took a human-centered approach to solutioning around priority root causes.
  • Workshop 3 asked participants to design a continuous improvement process for iterating solutions and collaborating across the workforce system long-term.

The outcome: Third Sector used a racial equity-centered approach to arrive at three proposed solutions specifically designed to improve program retention and job placement outcomes for Black and LatinX adult and young adult job seekers in Austin.

Of note: CBO partners who participated in the workshops formed a workgroup to continue collaborating to address these findings.


Starting today, Texas Workforce Commission reinstates work search requirements for jobless claimants and parents

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) reinstated required work searches today (Nov 1), which means no unemployment benefits unless you do at least three things each week that could lead to a job, and document it.I anticipate this policy change will dramatically increase the number of unemployed workers seeking their job matching and training services.

What this means for jobless Austinites: Austin residents receiving jobless benefits must complete three work searches per week to continue receiving benefits. 

  • TWC previously suspended this requirement in March due to the pandemic.
  • This change comes following the state’s continued re-openings of businesses, according to TWC. 

TWC additionally reinstated work requirements for parents receiving benefits through the child care assistance program.

  • WFS has 2,273 children on the waitlist (1,516 families).
  • We will start contacting parents on our waitlist in the coming days. We anticipate enrolling600 children over the next few months.  
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