2-minute read

Good afternoon, and happy 4th of July weekend,

Many American workers who are considering making a career transition will need to reskill, yet fewer than half say they have access to the education and training they want. 

With over 80k in Travis County out of work — and the majority expressing interest in career reskilling — Workforce Solutions Capital Area and training partners, such as Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286 (Local 286), continue to identify and connect Austinites to job opportunities and companies hiring now.

Stay tuned for a more encompassing initiative — based upon our Master Community Workforce Plan — in coming weeks.

Also, below, hear from the latest apprenticeship training graduates on their experience and skilled trades industry employers on their ‘bright future.’

In partnership, Tamara


‘This program is definitely going to change my life’: 100% of June 2020 MC3 apprenticeship class found employment

Last week, we celebrated 18 Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) graduates who earned their credentials in the 7th program in Austin through our training partnership with Local 286.

  • MC3 is a nationally recognized industry certificate that introduces students to the different building trades and teaches them the skills needed for a registered apprenticeship, debt-free.
  • All graduates were offered employment on graduation day as an electrician’s helper, plumber/pipefitter, laborer, sheet metal worker, fire sprinkler installer, insulator, or carpenter.
  • This cohort was the first comprised of only recent high school grads —all but one are class of 2020.
  • On average, program trainees can earn up to $15/hour during their first year as an apprentice and up to $70,000/year after they complete a program, which takes two weeks and is free.
  • The next step for WFS is having another class, which starts on July 6. Applications are usually accepted through the first day of class — you can recommend your friends and colleagues to me today, or apply on our website.
  • Of note: Recent studies show the majority of Americans, especially those with a high school education or less, prefer nondegree programs and skills training options (71%) over degree programs (29%).

What they’re saying:

  • Angel Castro, a 2020 grad from Akins High School, said this program was highly useful, especially as many young people have yet to decide on a career.
    • “I just don’t want to be stuck somewhere where I’m just like ‘I don’t know what to do,’ change majors — none of that,” Angel said. 
    • “I want to be here to start working, have an education, and get paid for it — no student loans… The program helped me a lot and gave me the guide to go somewhere that I want to go.”
  • Alex Matos, a 2020 grad from Manor Senior High School, said, “It was awesome to meet people, see all these trades, hear about what we can do — how it works.” Alex will be working at Young & Pratt, specializing in sheet metal.
  • “Construction hasn’t slowed down,” said Brian Peabody, training coordinator at Local 286. “Our workers have been doing everything they possibly can to maintain their safety and their health, but at the same time, they’re still building Texas.”

How to apply and help:

  • Registration is now open for the last class of summer from July 6-17. Applications are usually accepted through the first day of class.
  • Please help us share this opportunity. Download the flyer and send to your constituents, especially new high school grads. 


‘The future looks good’: Skilled trade employers confident in present and future employment needs

Local skilled trades companies convened for a WFS industry roundtable in June, sharing collective confidence in the industry based on real-time demand and projected hiring needs. For a pulse of the skilled trades industry after the mid-March economic freefall, our employer survey showed:

  • Three out of 11 skilled trades companies reported they had to furlough or lay off workers in immediate response to COVID.
    • 73% reported being open for business, however.
  • 73% reported a decrease in revenue, but over half said they do not anticipate a future reduction in their workforce.
    • 27% also expect to increase headcount in the future.

What they’re saying:

  • John Colley, director of Texas operations at Rosendin Electric, an electrical contracting company, said the company is “actually going to come out of this virus in better shape” than they started, speaking to the backlog of major electrical projects in the Austin area over the next year.
    • Many employers represented at the roundtable includingSamsung Austin Semiconductor, Rosendin Electric, and Austin Carpenters Local Union 1266 said the need for skilled workers and apprentices is increasing as large construction projects ramp up.
  • Mark Butler, facilities manager at Samsung, said it’s “business as usual” for his area’s skilled workers, with an unchanged demand to service and maintain equipment so far.
  • See the full skilled trades industry roundtable here, moderated by Joe Cooper, WFS board member and training director of Local 286 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union.

Yes, and:

  • WFS is offering funding opportunities to help sustain payroll and talent readiness for local businesses during this ongoing pandemic.
  • To learn more or apply, download our info sheetor just shoot me a quick email of interest. 

Skilled Trades by the numbers:

  • Future workforce: There were 8,562 unemployment claimants from the construction, transportation, and warehousing sectors from March through May, 7% of the total number of Austin’s jobless.
  • Jobs uptick: In June, 982 new skilled trades jobs (including transportation, warehousing, and construction) were posted in Austin MSA, +182 from May. There were 2,062 total postings in June for the region. 
  • Top occupations for June include Class A CDL drivers, plumbers, warehouse workers, and service techs.


TWC delays work-search requirements due to the recent rise in Texas COVID cases, will revisit late July

TWC has stated that bringing back work-search requirements, where Texans must be actively searching for a job in order to receive benefits, will continue to be conditions-based.

  • This requirement — temporarily waived during the COVID crisis — was previously set to kick back in July 6.

On the horizon: Unemployment checks are scheduled to decrease significantly for 75%+ of the local joblesswhen the additional $600/week federal disaster-related benefits end on July 25.

  • The extra $600/week benefits are in addition to the state’s normal payments, which can amount from $69-$521 per week, depending on an applicant’s former income.
  • After July 25: Workforce development experts expect a “flood” of job seekers and demand for WFS’ job matching and training support services.
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