Tamara Atkinson, CEO of Workforce Solutions Capital Area, said the community needs to be putting more money and resources toward re-skilling Austin’s unemployed population, which was roughly 70,400 people in February. She pointed to funds available to the city and county through the federal $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. The city of Austin is expected to receive $195.8 million, and $247.1 million has been earmarked for Travis County, according to city documents.

“If the question is, does Austin have the labor force? The answer is yes. Then the next question is, do they have the skills to be able to qualify for the jobs that Tesla and others that are growing in our economy? The answer is not yet,” Atkinson said. “The opportunity here is to use the American Rescue Plan dollars to invest in workforce development training, to ensure that these Covid-impacted unemployed and underemployed individuals can rapidly attain the skills so that they can qualify for these jobs… It’s not a matter of getting ahead of the curve — the curve is here.”

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