Mayor Ron Nirenberg hailed the program as an important step in fostering job growth, especially at a time when the pandemic was negatively impacting livelihoods.
SAN ANTONIO — The proposed response to Alamo City’s labor shortage can be found in the upcoming issue SA: Ready to work Program emphasizing an employer-centric approach to creating a talent pipeline for jobs with a minimum wage of $15 an hour.
The program involves using $200 million of funds from the one-eighth cent tax approved by San Antonio residents in November 2020.
“We know the task before us is great and daunting. Educating and employing thousands of residents will not be easy. However, this program is truly unique. An opportunity to improve the economic mobility of our residents while enabling our businesses to thrive,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
Michael Ramsey is executive director of San Antonio’s Workforce Development Office, a new division formed in 2021 to create collaboration between employers, partner agencies and residents.
Ramsey presented the implementation plan during the B-session city council meeting on Wednesday.
The Ready for Work program aims to enroll up to 40,000 eligible residents who will work with a consortium of agencies, including Workforce Solutions Alamo, to receive training and resources to secure employment in a variety of in-demand industries.
Employer pledges range from a long list of companies in the construction, utilities, education, healthcare and cybersecurity industries.
On Monday, city officials held a press conference to promote Ready to Work and welcomed representatives from companies including Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas to comment on the program’s potential for success.
District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez emphasized the importance of centralizing the training program to the specific job needs of employers, large and small.
“These are employers of all stripes, tastes and sizes. We’re all out there trying to figure out how to get more programming jobs and more biotech research jobs,” Pelaez said. “But we never talk about, ‘Hey, how do we get more commercial licensing jobs? How do we get more plumbers?'”
Ramsey noted that Ready for Work intends to enhance the Train for Jobs SA program, which was created to provide rapid training and job placements for those directly affected by the pandemic.
More than 10,000 San Antonio residents were eligible for the program. However, of the approximately 5,000 enrolled, only 1,140 people found a job.
Ready to Work will feature a much more aggressive marketing and outreach campaign combined with increased employer engagement.
Unlike Train for Jobs SA, Ready to Work does not offer weekly stipends to enrolled residents. There is also an income cap of approximately $33,000 for eligible candidates.
Ready to Work includes tuition, support services, emergency funding, and job placement services.
Contractors like Workforce Solutions Alamo stand ready to meet the needs of employers by preparing thousands of San Antonio residents for employment.
Workforce Solutions Alamo CEO Adrian Lopez said he’s optimistic that Ready to Work will prove more efficient when it comes to creating quality talent for local businesses. Lopez said more than 40,000 jobs are currently available, although not all pay $15 an hour.
“We are working with a number of agencies to build a better system for delivering not just employment services, but the other types of services that families need to be able to offer them the support they need to access them provided jobs. ” he said.
Support services include internet access, groceries and other essential necessities.
Ready to Work is scheduled to begin training in April.