Workforce Solutions Capital Area is the non-profit organization that serves to lead and govern the Austin/Travis County area workforce system. In this role, we are responsible for the planning, oversight, and evaluation of workforce development activities in the Capital Area. Simply put, we connect local people — youth and adults — to the most in-demand industries with quality jobs.
To help us bridge our region’s skills gap, we are excited to welcome Jacob Calhoun to our board of directors. Jacob currently serves as Director of Transit System Enablement at CapMetro.
Get to know Jacob in our Q&A below, and connect with him on LinkedIn to see his extensive experience in the mobility and transit industry.
Q: Where is your hometown?
A: I’m from Temple, TX, just an hour north of Austin. It’s a nice town that my family has been in for more than 100 years. Temple got a Buccee’s a few years ago that you might have seen.
Q: How did you first become involved with Workforce Solutions Capital Area (WFS)?
A: Some of my colleagues have been involved with workforce development for years and I’ve recently gotten to see the positive impact it has had on recent CapMetro projects. With big initiatives like Project Connect, it’s imperative that we have and develop local talent to deliver big programs.
Q: How is WFS a go-to resource for employers in Austin?
A: So much of the workplace journey is having the ability to grow in your career. The network and resources that WFS provides creates an opportunity for a large pool of talent to guide their growth and help them achieve their goals.
Q: What is the value of connecting local people to local jobs?
A: For the mobility and transit industry, local knowledge is critical. We’re building projects that locals will interact with every day for decades to come. It’s imperative that our talent knows the local landscape but also has the ability to pull best practices from around the world into their work. Transit and mobility projects are also opportunities for our local workforce to not only contribute to the projects, but for locals to experience gains and benefits from the additional employment opportunities.
Q: How does upskilling benefit your industry?
A: Humans have been moving ever since we’ve been humans. We’re constantly looking for ways to go places and the mobility industry is tasked with facilitating that movement throughout the region. We need to ask ourselves though, “Are there better ways to get around?” The world continues to change on a daily basis, and we need a diverse mobility portfolio to ensure that our region can adapt to this change and remain resilient. While mobility projects may move people quickly, the projects are often large and can take many years to deliver. We need to cultivate the local talent we have and develop the skills we need to prepare for the future before it arrives.
Q: How does your organization support growing Austin’s workforce from local programs and schools?
A: CapMetro is actively preparing for the workforce that will be needed to deliver the future of transit in Central Texas. The agency supports their staff in receiving professional certifications, like my AICP certification. CapMetro also coordinates with colleges and universities to provide internship opportunities for students interested in the transit industry. Mentorship, networking opportunities and professional development is encouraged at CapMetro. Additionally, as our community has conversation about affordability and childcare, the CapMetro team is proud to provide on-site daycare for employees through a partnership with Bright Horizons. The daycare is available to employees at a prorated rate to ensure all employees have access to the childcare benefit.
Q: How has skills training helped you develop your career?
A: I’ve had the privilege of being trained in technical materials but I’ve also had the opportunity to enhance my network as well as having amazing mentors to help guide me through the industry. I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without the ability to enhance my skills through training.
Q: What does your ideal day in the Austin area look like?
A: It’s a beautiful Spring day in early May and I wake up with the sun to go for a morning run on the Northern Walnut Creek Greenbelt near my house. After a nap, my family and I walk to Balcones District Park to have a picnic under a live oak tree. We then take the Red Line downtown to the Austin Central library to check out some books and get ice cream. We take the train back home to eat dinner at Aviator Pizza. I say goodnight to my kids and I bike over to meet some friends at Hopsquad for a few pre-game drinks before we head to Q2 stadium to watch Austin FC. I pedal home from the win, a great day behind me.
Q: Is a hot dog a sandwich?
A: According to my 4 year old daughter, a hot dog bun with peanut butter and honey IS a sandwich but that’s just the bread doing all the hard work with the hot dog nowhere to be found. The real question is why are we talking hot dogs? Where is the bratwurst on a pretzel bun with spicy mustard? I want to be part of that conversation.
Q: If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
A: While it’s great to look ahead and see what could be, it’s important to enjoy the where you are, too. There’s a lot going on right now and it would be great to join in that fun while it’s here.