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$300,000 to help study employment needs for Austin’s mass transit expansion

WFS will produce a report in Fall 2023 to show what workforce development resources are needed.

AUSTIN, Texas — A Workforce Mobility Industry Sector Partnership was announced Friday between Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) and Workforce Solutions Capital Area (WFS). 

“The purpose of this Agreement is to support the creation of the region’s first Workforce Mobility Industry Sector Partnership that includes the development and implementation of a construction workforce plan for the construction of Project Connect, which was approved by the voters of the City at the November 3, 2020, special election,” the Scope of Agreement shows.

Under the terms, ATP will pay WFS $300,000.

The money will pay for the following:

  • $50,000 for Consultation and Key WFS Personnel
  • $100,000 for Industry Sector Research
  • $95,000 for Joint Communication Support
  • $25,000 for Community Visits
  • $30,000 for WFS Administration 

“It's time for us to have a coordinated approach to how we plan for and then fill these jobs that are being created. So that's number one. The second thing we're going to do is we're actually going to rapidly assess what is our current capacity in our community, how many people currently have the skills and where are current training programs,” Tamara Atkinson, CEO of WFS, said.

“We view this all as a system together: our industry partners from a construction engineering perspective, our workforce training folks and our local businesses. And we can all come together. We're going to be able to advance light rail,” Greg Canally, executive director for ATP, said.

WFS will produce a report in Fall 2023 to show what workforce development resources are needed.

“Here's what I'm 100% sure the report's going to say - It's going to say we have a gap between our current supply of workers and our current capacity to prepare those workers and the jobs we're going to need over the next ten years,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson said she expects existing job-training programs will need to be scaled to accommodate more students.

“I expect we will probably identify new programs that need to come online as well,” Atkinson said.

The study is not expected to impact Project Connect’s buildout timeline, Canally said. 

“We're at the stage where we're about to finalize our decision on Austin’s light rail. We’re really excited that on March 21st we're going to have a kickoff event, a public event to talk about the work we've done, and show some of the options that we have so we can finalize this decision in the upcoming months,” Canally said.

“Workforce Solution and Tamara and her group are actually integral to the success of us advancing Project Connect, making sure we have the right talent pipeline. We understand that talent pipeline. We understand what training programs we have and what new training we need,” Canally said.

“Recommendations will include processes to reach underinvested communities, as well as wraparound service needs,” the joint press release showed.

“We will always be balancing the opportunity to move swiftly without compromising quality of instruction because we know that these jobs include safety and they include important aspects that our community needs to get right. So we'll never compromise quality,” Atkinson said.

Records filed for the October 2022 board CapMetro Board Finance Audit and Administration Committee show Project Connect will call for 700-1,000 frontline positions each year.

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