3-minute read

In this letter: How we’re training local students to keep them safe and working in a high-demand technical occupation, and factors behind the labor shortage.

📍 ICYMI: See some of our top moments from 2021, presented in no particular order.

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In partnership, Tamara.

1. Workforce Solutions Capital Area awarded $100,000 grant for workforce development from Texas Mutual

I’m thrilled to announce an award of $100,000 to Workforce Solutions Capital Area (WFS) from our partners at Texas Mutual. WFS is one of 44 recipients of Texas Mutual’s annual workforce development and training safety grant.

Why it matters: Thanks to Texas Mutual’s generous award, we will train more members of our future skilled workforce to keep them safe and working in a high-demand technical occupation.

The big picture: For this grant, WFS and Elgin ISD will expand the district’s Auto Tech Pathway program by purchasing industry-standard professional equipment and providing associated OSHA Basic 10 training and interactive and experiential safety training.

Details: Students will learn how to repair and refinish automobiles and service various vehicle types. These are in-demand skills needed for Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic occupations, verified by WFS to be experiencing growth with opportunities for high-skill, high-wage jobs in the Austin area.

  • WFS’ career and education outreach specialist for Elgin ISD will assist with recruiting students, hosting presentations, and coordinating industry speakers to support awareness and enrollment.

By the numbers:

  • 80% of the 4,000+ Elgin ISD students are economically disadvantaged.
  • 588 students between Elgin ISD’s auto, P-TECH, and welding programs will receive quality training through 2022 and up to 10,000 over the lifespan of the new equipment.

What they’re saying:

  • Dr. Jodi Duron, Superintendent of Schools at Elgin ISD: “Elgin ISD is thrilled to partner with Workforce Solutions and Texas Mutual to provide enhanced safety learning opportunities for our Auto Tech and Welding Career certification programs.”
  • Melanie Flowers, WFS Board Chair: “This grant will help qualify Elgin High School students as skilled auto techs and help local automotive employers meet their hiring needs in today’s tight labor market. This is another example of how we are connecting local people to local jobs.”

Go deeper.

2. Austin experts explain 10 reasons behind our current labor shortage

Driving the news: Austin’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. Employers are posting more jobs in the metro area than they have in at least six years. Still, many employers are having a hard time filling those spots. WFS spoke with KXAN on the reasons behind the lag in filling those jobs.

Here are three of the top reasons for the current shortage

1. The coronavirus pandemic is still a concern.

  • There also may be confusion about safety in the workplace or getting back to work and being protected.

2. Many workers need help with childcare or caregiving.

  • WFS has programs to help, including one for low-wage workers in industries like food services and hotels to get free childcare for one year.

3. There’s a mismatch between open jobs and workers’ skills.

  • An estimated 54% of jobs in Texas are considered middle-skill level. Yet only 45% of Texans have those credentials.
  • Yes, and: 69% of all of the unemployment claimants in Travis County since March 2020 have less than an Associate’s degree, and those claimants are disproportionately black or Hispanic.

My takeaway: There’s a clear need to find what services and training programs career seekers need to connect diverse populations into these in-demand, high-paying jobs that are available in our community.

  • For interested residents, WFS offersvarious training programs — including “earn-and-learn” apprenticeships — to achieve their certification at no cost and start a path to a more self-sufficient career, with supports available to bridge the gap.

Go deeper.

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