To address the longstanding shortage of skilled trade workers, the City of Austin, Travis County, and Workforce Solutions Capital Area provide no-cost, fast-track training for eligible residents to enter an in-demand career.
AUSTIN – Calls to hire plumbers and repair workers skyrocketed after the crippling winter storm hit Texas. But many Texans will wait for service because there are too few Texans who have the skills or credentials to work as plumbers.
In the Austin metro — even before the storm — there’s been a growing demand for skilled trade workers, including plumbers and electricians, among others. The February winter storm exacerbated this problem, especially for residents with infrastructure and home repair needs.
Now, City of Austin and Travis County residents can be a part of the solution to recovery and economic resiliency.
Introducing RE:WorkNOW, a rapid training program for City of Austin and Travis County residents
Through a partnership between the City of Austin, Travis County, and Workforce Solutions Capital Area, residents can quickly earn credentials to enter one of many high-demand skilled trades careers. The training program is called RE:WorkNOW. Courses are fast-tracked, offered at no cost, and participants can get paid to train.
RE:WorkNOW is designed for City of Austin and Travis County residents whose jobs have been impacted by COVID-19. With trainings offered in a virtual or hybrid setting, the program safely connects local people to good jobs in Austin’s most in-demand industries – skilled trades, manufacturing, healthcare, and IT.
Eligible trainees can receive $200 weekly stipends, career advising, and placement. Childcare, transportation, and digital inclusion will also be provided as needed and as funds are available.
Courses can take as little as four weeks, align with industry expectations, and will result in high-growth jobs at higher wages. The trainings are provided by Austin Community College District, Local 286 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union, Skillpoint Alliance, and more.
“Plumbers and skilled trades remain essential for Austin continued recovery. The City of Austin’s partnership with groups like Workforce Solutions, Skillpoint Alliance, and our local chapter of the plumbers and pipefitters union is a great example of the type of community collaboration necessary for this recovery,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “I encourage residents to sign up to gain a new skill that will positively impact our city at-large.”
Skilled trades and manufacturing industry growth leading to long-term talent shortage
In the Austin metro, in the 12 months ending in December 2020, the manufacturing, skilled trades, and construction industries were top five for highest job growth. But according to workforce development experts, a massive talent supply shortage is projected for Austin skilled trades and manufacturing occupations.
A JobsEQ projection over the next decade shows Austin’s ten most in-demand trade and manufacturing occupations will be short 2,830 skilled workers. In other words, these jobs are projected to grow quickly, but since there are not enough residents earning certifications to meet the hiring demand, there is a shortage of talent.
“The winter storm showed just how dependent we are as a community on these valuable, highly-skilled jobs and industries, including plumbers, electricians, HVAC installers, carpenters, and more,” said Kevin Brackmeyer, executive director at Skillpoint Alliance. “There is a high demand for these jobs, and these industries are ripe with opportunity and upward growth potential.”
Of the most in-demand occupation type (installation, maintenance, and repair), plumbing has the highest projected skills shortage over the next ten years, with 1,080 fewer people with these skills than needed in the regional market.
“A large number of construction projects will be starting this year, which will increase the shortage of skilled trades,” said Joe Cooper, training director at Local 286 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union. “All trades will be required to increase the number of workers they train at entry-level positions, as well as organize more experienced workers.”
Upcoming skilled trades trainings
Upcoming training programs for City of Austin and Travis County residents include the four-week Pre-Apprentice Plumbing program, which starts April 12 with 15 seats available. The program is offered by Skillpoint Alliance, along with many other trade and manufacturing programs.
Local 286 Plumbers & Pipefitters Union’s two-week course called Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) will start on April 19. Twenty seats will be available to help job seekers pick up the tools and techniques of skilled trades.
Graduates will receive industry-recognized licenses and certificates to begin working in the field. Workforce Solutions will assist graduates to find jobs with local employers who are hiring now.
“In the current workforce environment, it’s clear to us that you earn what you learn,” said Melanie Flowers, Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s board chair. “Workforce Solutions is here to support access to higher skills education for Central Texans, particularly those workers hardest hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic.”
Through the RE:WorkNOW website, City of Austin and Travis County residents can learn more about courses and connect to rapid training programs in their area of interest.
Space is limited, and enrollment into the approved courses is handled first-come, first-served.
To get started with RE:WorkNOW, visit https://reworknow.org/austin.