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Happy Labor Day!

Today, we honor the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. But at least 50,000 Austinites are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, especially those in face-to-face industries like hospitality and accommodation. More urgent than ever, WFS’ role for our labor force is to lift our neighbors up, connect them to the (re)training they need, and fill the talent gaps we see in hot Community Workforce Plan industries — IT, healthcare, and skilled trades/manufacturing.

In three weeks, on September 30, WFS will host the 2020 installment of our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic.

In three weeks, on September 30, WFS will host the 2020 installment of our annual Community Workforce Plan event, The Plan Ahead: Preparing Austin’s Workforce Out of the Pandemic. This virtual event – open to the public – is where we look at our community’s progress toward accomplishing our goal to move 10,000 people out of poverty through training. We will look at the status of the Austin Metro Area Community Workforce Plan, our regional response to the spike of joblessness in the current pandemic, and how business and government leaders can help Austin prepare for the present and the immediate future. We’re honored to be joined by Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, workforce champions who authorized Phase 1 funding for WFS to rapidly support and (re)train hundreds of Central Texans for hire at higher wages. State and local leaders will also present the latest labor exchange information, innovation, and how forward-thinking policy can help us rapidly scale our Phase 1 efforts (more below).

Although this event is virtual, be sure to register early to ensure your “seat.” Please let me know if you have any questions/comments.

In partnership, Tamara


Since the pandemic began in March, Austin’s unemployed Hospitality & Accommodation workers far outweigh this sector’s available jobs

Comparing jobless talent to available jobs from March 1 – July 31, we see a pronounced need to retrain entry-level workers previously in face-to-face jobs into higher-wage jobs in growing industries.

  • Food service, retail, and accommodation: There were 7x more new jobless claimants (48,423) than new job ads (6,836).

Looking at July 1-31, we still see a much larger need for talent in the high-demand Healthcare and IT sectors than hospitality jobs.

  • IT: There were 14x more new job ads than new jobless claimants previously in this sector. If you add in open positions posted before July, the difference is even more significant.
    • From March to July 2020, only 2% of unemployed claimants in Travis Co previously worked in IT.
  • Healthcare: There were6x more new job ads than new jobless claimants who previously worked in this sector.
  • Food service, retail, and accommodation: There were 1.7x more new job ads than new jobless claimants (Note: continued claims are not included in this data).


Despite high jobless numbers, the Austin region still has areas where we need to (re)train more skilled talent

Even in this COVID-economy, recently updated data confirms that the Austin region continues to have a current and projected need for more skilled talent in Community Workforce Plan targeted industries.

  • In a recently completed WFS labor supply analysis, we project we will need more skilled talent in IThealthcare, and skilled trades/manufacturing.
    • Although the manufacturing-related production occupations are projected to be oversupplied in the Austin region, local employers report these occupations will be in greater demand once Tesla begins hiring for their new gigafactory and hiring expands at BAE Systems.
  • Skills gaps: Based on data from January to March 2020, many skills in shortage fall within the skilled trades, except for data analysis, bilingual, and aseptic technique (preventing contamination in healthcare settings).
  • Foundational skill gaps: In 2020, nine of the top 10 in-demand skill clusters (which prepare people to enter the workforce either at an entry-level or during career changes) are IT-related and are projected to rapidly grow nationally and globally.
  • Healthcare- and IT-related skills directly tied to WFS’ targeted occupations list are projected to snowball between 2019-2021 in the region.

The big picture: To prepare Austin for the workforce of the future, the Community Workforce Plan’s focus on high-growth, in-demand career pathways (in IT, healthcare, skilled trades, and manufacturing) continues to provide a vital roadmap to improve the lives of thousands of lower-income Austinites, now and in the years to come.


WFS launches digital, interactive workbook for high school and middle school students to explore in-demand careers

WFS is helping middle and high school students prepare for in-demand careers. With the start of virtual school last month, we pivoted our content and materials to help local students see which local jobs are growing and which can earn them higher wages. Introducing our Explore Careers workbooks:

  • Our digital workbooks offer career exploration tools for middle and high school students to learn about career endorsements for high school and career pathways beyond graduation.
  • These workbooks direct students to online career assessments, career videos, soft skills training, resume building, and more, allowing more avenues to connect with our services.
  • The workbooks were used digitally during the spring 2020 school semester. Today, over 9,000 copies have been printed to distribute to students in local school districts.

How you can help:

  • Download our workbooks hereand please share them with your colleagues.
  • Please share climbtheladderctx.com with those you know who are looking for their next step, whether going into the workforce, community college, an apprenticeship, or more.
  • Please shoot me a message with your feedback on the site or other resources you’d like to see.
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