City Name and Name of Workforce Area:
Austin, Workforce Solutions Capital Area
Master Community Workforce Plan
The strength of a community depends on the people that live in it. With rapidly rising costs of living threatening affordability, many Austinites are being pushed out of the community they love. In response to this crisis, Austin-area workforce development community based organizations, training providers, and employers created a Master Community Workforce Plan (MCWP) to help individuals living in poverty find a path to financial stability.
By aligning education and training providers’ training programs with employers’ needs, this workforce plan will help 10,000 economically disadvantaged individuals secure middle-skill jobs by 2021.
The MCWP estimates that over the next five years, the Austin Metro Area will require more than 60,000 middle-skill jobs including both new and replacement positions. Of these middle skill openings, just over 50% stem from just three occupational sectors which compose the primary, though not exclusive, targeted industries as part of the MCWP: healthcare, information technology, and advanced manufacturing/skilled trades.
For the region’s economically disadvantaged residents―those who earn less than 200% FPG, many of whom are currently employed―this prospective job growth represents better economic opportunity provided they obtain the skills and credentials required to find higher earnings employment.
Austin Metro Area Master Community Workforce Place Baseline Evaluation Report
This report was conducted by The Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the University of Texas at Austin. This report seeks to determine which relevant workforce development services and training the five major community-based organizations in our region (Workforce Solutions Capital Area, Goodwill Central Texas, Skillpoint Alliance, Capital IDEA, and American YouthWorks) and Austin Community College District provided during the baseline years (2013-2016) to measure the scale of efforts along with the outcomes of participants, including program completion, employment, and earnings.
As the region continues to implement the MCWP, this baseline evaluation report serves as a reference to how the workforce system functioned prior to this effort and provides accurate baseline figures with which to compare results of ongoing and future regional coordination and collaboration.
Central Texas Healthcare Partnership
In early 2018, the Central Texas Healthcare Partnership (CTHP) launched under the leadership of three Central Texas healthcare industry leaders: Baylor Scott & White Health, Ascension Seton Healthcare Family, and St. David’s Healthcare. This new coalition was launched with three goals:
- To jointly develop an agenda to sustain and grow the healthcare industry in the Central Texas region.
- To facilitate coordinated action to address shared workforce challenges and realize shared opportunities.
- To provide a forum for the Central Texas healthcare industry for networking and information sharing.
Drawing upon lessons learned from successful industry partnerships in other regions, the CTHP was intentionally structured as a business-led coalition to help ensure the group focuses on those workforce challenges and opportunities that are the highest priority for local industry leaders.
Industry partners provide leadership for the coalition and lead the identification of its priorities and strategies. Workforce Solutions Capital Area provides staff support to assist with the coordination of the partnership.
The CTHP‘s three work groups, launched in June 2018 and meeting monthly, provide a forum for these business leaders to come together with community partners from K12, higher education, nonprofit organizations, and industry groups to investigate challenges, jointly develop solutions, and explore innovative ideas.
The work groups focus on three priority topics:
- Increase the supply of Central Texas registered nursing talent by jointly working to address education, training, recruiting, and retention challenges.
- Improve coordination between healthcare employers and K12 institutions to promote career awareness and coordinate more hands-on learning opportunities.
- Weigh in on public policy discussions related to education and training, affordability, transportation, and other community issues that affect Central Texas employers’ ability to attract, develop, and retain healthcare talent.
CTHP leaders also recognized that they would need better information about current and projected healthcare industry labor market dynamics to help inform their work. With matching contributions from St. David’s Healthcare, Ascension Seton Healthcare Family, and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Workforce Solutions Capital Area secured a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission for a study by researchers from The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) and Avalanche Consulting to better understand the labor market landscape and discover potential strategies to increase alignment between regional supply and demand for middle-skill healthcare careers. The researchers presented their findings to the CTHP in September 2018.
Leveraging Local Funds with Third Party Reimbursement to Serve More People
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) allows local workforce development boards to create partnerships with local entities that provide services to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients through non-federally funded sources. These are referred to as Third Party Reimbursement (TPR) models, and they allow us to expand services to SNAP recipients who may not be receiving services through our SNAP Employment & Training (SNAP E&T) program.
Today, we are the only local workforce development board in Texas operating a TPR program.
Although we receive funds to operate the SNAP E&T program, the amount is not nearly enough to serve every individual in our community that receives SNAP benefits. With TPR, an agency can utilize non-federal funding to provide services (such as training, support services and case management) to individuals that are receiving SNAP benefits. In return for expanding the E&T program, FNS reimburses 50% of the costs incurred to provide services to SNAP recipients.
FNS designed this program as an opportunity for communities to increase their efforts in serving individuals through programs that are like SNAP E&T. The program’s goal is to provide case management, training and job search assistance to enable individuals receiving SNAP benefits to enter the workplace.
From October 2016 to October 2018, Workforce Solutions Capital Area received more than $92,000 in reimbursement through the TPR program and served 42 individuals.
Currently, Workforce Solutions Capital Area operates a TPR program through our Career Center contractor, utilizing funding from the City of Austin and Travis County for the Workforce Education and Readiness Continuum (WERC).
WERC staff identify customers that are SNAP recipients and track expenditures for case management, training, and support services. The customer’s eligibility for SNAP benefits is verified monthly, and we track services and enter data into The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST), an automated statewide system with a single point of data entry and a central repository for customer information.
The expenditures are submitted to the Board for certification, then submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and ultimately FNS. FNS reimburses $0.50 on the dollar of which TWC keeps 10% and we receive 90% in return. We invest this money back into the WERC program.
Registered Apprenticeship programs are gateways to good middle-class jobs in the US. construction industry. In Texas in 2017, nearly 17,500 apprentices were earning wages and learning on the job in more than 400 apprenticeship programs.
Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) is a pre-apprenticeship core curriculum with 120 hours of classroom training. Pre-apprentices can pick up the tools and techniques of the Skilled Trades, from plumbing to electrical work to sheet metal and iron work, under the guidance of master craftworkers.
We launched our first cohort in Austin in Summer 2018. 100% of the participants in the inaugural class received job offers after completing their training. A second cohort began the program in October 2018.
At Lanier High School, a pre-apprentice dual credit course is now available for students who want to become the next generation of electricians. The course is part of a new partnership between electrical contractor TRIO Electric, Austin Independent School District and Austin Community College, and is free to participating students.
Lanier students are transported to TRIO Electric and learn about the work electricians perform, including how to read electrical blueprints and bend conduits. The course offers learning outside of the classroom: students also visit construction job sites to observe the work being completed.
For their participation, the students were promised a job making $13 an hour in summer 2019.
Offering pre-apprentice dual credit courses can benefit schools and employers alike. Schools introducing career and technical education (CTE) programs can gain industry input and guidance from career professionals while participating employers, they have the opportunity to help guide the next generation of skilled workers.