Hoping for a Breakthrough

21 Jun

Daniel Moreno PhotoDaniel Moreno knows the meaning of hard work and determination. Daniel was born in Mexico, the sixth of seven children. Daniel’s uncle took him under his wing at age nine, and they moved to the United States where they worked seasonal crop picking jobs. Daniel became a citizen when he was 16 and lived with his uncle, who he described as his father figure, until he was about 29. “Life was hard,” he said. “I never attended a day of school. My uncle told me, ‘If you want to make it, you gotta learn how to work.’”

And work he did. Daniel and his uncle moved all over the country; they picked apples in Washington State, peaches in Georgia and oranges in Florida. He even moved West – to Wyoming and Nebraska – to be closer to his parents and other siblings, who had moved to Nebraska.

Daniel said he established a strong work ethic early in his life, working from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the crop fields, and then working in the evenings at other jobs. Throughout his life, Daniel became a jack of all trades: he worked for an auto mechanic shop, was an interstate truck driver, rode bulls in a Cheyenne, Wyoming, rodeo, and also learned the construction trade. A native Spanish speaker, Daniel found it difficult to obtain employment since he did not speak English. He was determined to pick up those skills and became fluent in English by speaking with his coworkers.

Daniel eventually moved to the Central Texas area, where he ran into legal trouble. He was incarcerated for eight years and will be on parole until mid-2017. When he was released from prison in early 2015, Daniel said he had difficulty finding employment due to his criminal background and his age. But, like when he learned English, he was determined to succeed. “I was a go getter, filling out a lot of applications,” Daniel said.

Daniel worked with Goodwill Central Texas and Workforce Solutions South Career Center staff, who are collocated in the same building on Burleson Road, to refine his resume and receive job search assistance. “Mr. Moreno continuously came into the computer lab at the resource center at the Burleson location to gain more computer skills as well as apply for employment and get job leads through his Career Case Manager (CCM),” said Dayna Salinas of Goodwill Central Texas. “He had spoken with his CCM about his previous applications he submitted through Goodwill but had not been hired.  Instead of giving up, Mr. Moreno continued to stay motivated and speak with any Goodwill Hiring Manager to see if there were any jobs available in the warehouse.”

In January 2016, he was hired by Goodwill! “Goodwill hired me for three days, then they hired me full time!” Daniel said. Once he found employment, Daniel was able to use Workforce Solutions’ services to purchase work clothes.

“Daniel exemplified enduring hope while he was waiting for a breakthrough to happen,” said Workforce Solutions South Center Manager Jennifer Cerretti. “When that breakthrough happened, it spoke volumes to those that had been watching him wait. He has not stopped being a role model to others in the work ethic and positive attitude that he carries with him and shares with others on a daily basis.”

Daniel’s jack of all trades skills are an advantage at Goodwill. In February 2016, Goodwill awarded Daniel Employee of the Month! “They’ve got me all over,” Daniel said of the wide variety of job duties. “I’ll do whatever I need to do.” Among other things, Daniel works with “tippers,” or machines that place donated goods onto tables so that they can be sorted and organized for sale in Goodwill’s stores. Daniel is frequently assigned to the recycling area and is also responsible for dismantling wooden pallets. A natural people person, he has even worked on the store floor, greeting customers and informing them about the prices of items.

Daniel is moving toward independence, having secured full-time employment, and he plans to obtain his forklift certification through Goodwill. In addition to gaining financial independence, Daniel has become a mentor to jobseekers at the South Career Center, helping at least three find employment with Goodwill. By moving past his criminal background and finding full-time employment, Daniel has shown that he is truly a go getter! “I want to work for Goodwill as long as they will let me,” he said.


About Employment Services

There are many aspects to a job search. Workforce Solutions Capital Area is here to be your teacher, coach and partner in finding your next job opportunity.

We’re your go-to source for job search assistance and employment-related services in Travis County. Named as the “Best Place to Look for a Job” by The Austin Chronicle, our Career Centers can help you:

  • Find a Job
  • Build Your Resume
  • Prepare for Interviews

For more information, visit http://www.wfscapitalarea.com/JobSeekers 


Driven to Succeed

18 Apr


Viginus Nwokonkwo

Viginus Nwokonkwo enrolled in the Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (or WERC) seeking employment assistance.  However, soon after enrolling, Viginus had to return home to Nigeria to tend to a death in the family. In June of 2014, upon return to the United States, Viginus began training for a Commercial Driver’s License.

During training, he was sleeping on a friend’s couch and experiencing car troubles. Determined to complete his training, however, Viginus borrowed a friend’s car and made the long commute. Unfortunately, his challenges did not end with transportation.  Viginus was also dealing with custody issues for his daughter while in training.

Rather than be swayed or defeated by these challenges, Viginus was driven.  He was determined to get back on his feet.  Viginus graduated from Austin Community College’s CDL program and found full-time employment with Gemini, a trucking company that transports crude oil throughout the United States.

He is no longer dependent on friends for a place to live or a car to use and is establishing a better life for himself and his daughter.

Viginus also remains grateful for the assistance and support he received from Workforce Solutions and the WERC program.  He is always willing to help current WERC clients who have any questions about CDL or are interested in working for Gemini.

About WERC

The Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC) provides client services ranging from Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to job readiness instruction and occupational training with the goal of empowering clients with the skills they need to advance their employment opportunities and realize their economic potential. For more information program specifics and eligibility requirements, please visit www.wercaustin.com

Austin TechHire Designation

4 Apr

Austin has been announced as one of 15 new communities added to the White House’s TechHire Initiative.  Designed to develop homegrown information technology workforce, TechHire communities are piloting programs to train lower-skill workers—often in just a few months—through nontraditional approaches like “coding bootcamps” and accelerated programs.

“The designation as a TechHire city by President Obama adds to our talent development ecosystem,” said Alan Miller, Workforce Solutions Capital Area Executive Director. “It will help in our efforts to prepare people with the skills employers need in the fastest growing sector in our economy.”

According to the Office of Austin Mayor Steve Adler, Austin received this designation because Microsoft, Google Fiber, Google, and IBM are advising and working with the City of Austin to provide opportunities for up to 200 graduates from accelerated training programs for veterans and low-income residents at Austin Community College, Texas State University, and Zenith Education Group to interview for paid internships or similar offerings when they complete their programs.

More information about the TechHire Initiative can be found at http://techhire.org/community/austin/.


Finding Ways to Give Back

23 Nov

PhotoDaniel Cardenas’ father always told him to give back to the community and to those who are less fortunate. Daniel graduated from the University of Texas in Austin (UT) in 2003 without having a clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life. After being laid off from an accounting firm in 2013, Daniel decided he was ready to practice what his father preached.

“When I got laid off, I didn’t have marketable skills other than basic office skills,” Daniel said. He decided that a career in healthcare would give him job security and a good paycheck, and would also allow him to interact with ill people who needed his help. He decided to pursue a career in nursing and enrolled full-time in a rigorous course load at Austin Community College (ACC).

Daniel worked at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility while he was in nursing school, but he struggled with being a full-time student and paying his bills. One of Daniel’s classmates told him about the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program, which is administered by Workforce Solutions Capital Area (Workforce Solutions). The WIA program pays for occupational training costs for income-qualifying adults and youth.

Daniel met with Brian Farrell, a case manager at Workforce Solutions, to determine his eligibility for the WIA program, but he found out that he made slightly too much money to qualify. Brian advised Daniel to focus more on school than work and to come back to Workforce Solutions several months later to reassess his eligibility for the WIA program. Undeterred by the temporary setback, Daniel reduced his hours at the rehabilitation facility and threw himself into his nursing program. Daniel later qualified for the WIA program, and the WIA program paid for his last year of nursing school!

“It’s a completely different story,” Daniel said of his path to a career in nursing. “I’m older and have more perspective. I was going to nursing school with a purpose, with an end goal in mind, not like at UT. I had a much different mindset and a much harder work ethic. I cut back my hours at the rehabilitation facility because I wanted to focus the majority of my time on school.”

Through the WIA program, Daniel participated in a basic computer literacy course and a job interview preparation course. The WIA grant paid for Daniel’s tuition as well as for supplies on the nursing program syllabus, such as textbooks, scrubs, stethoscopes and shoes. The grant also paid for weekly gas cards so that Daniel could travel to his classes and his clinical rotations at local hospitals.

During his last semester at ACC, Daniel participated in a class that prepared students for job placement. Daniel prepared his resume and honed his interview skills through this class, and he received several job offers at local hospitals. “I was lucky enough to observe an operating room during nursing school,” Daniel said. “I knew right away that surgery was what I wanted to do.” In January 2015, Daniel accepted a position as a circulating nurse at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center and works in the operating room (“O.R.”) during surgeries.

“It’s a very fast-paced job,” Daniel said. “The circulating nurses are like the offensive coordinators of the operating room. We oversee everything, and we conduct safety checks in the O.R. It comes down to us to make sure everything is correct and as safe as possible. Nursing school taught us to treat all equally and compassionately. Act as if this patient is a family member,” he said.

Daniel said the most important factor to his success was having a big support group; his family and a good study partner were key to his success. Daniel encourages others to use the WIA program to pursue their interests. “You get out of the training program what you put into it, that’s the bottom line. Programs like WIA reward you for your hard work,” Daniel said. “I felt good when I walked across the stage at UT, but I felt even better when I walked across the stage at ACC.”

About the WIA Program

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) – now the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) – program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. Specifically, WIOA can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care assistance while in training
  • Transportation assistance
  • Interview clothing and uniforms
  • Tools needed for your new job
  • Funding for basic skills and occupational training

For more information about the program and eligibility, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.


Finding the Right Path

30 Sep

Growing up, it wasJacob Rico not easy for Jacob Rico to find his path. Jacob was raised by a single mother as the middle child of seven, and he had trouble finding subjects he liked in high school. Because of a lack of focus, he began skipping class, “roaming aimlessly,” and ultimately dropped out of school altogether. However, thanks to the services provided by the Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC) and American YouthWorks, Jacob found his true destination – welding – and is excelling in his field!

While out of school, Jacob began working part-time in the construction industry. He later tried to return to school for his General Education Development (GED), but the large class size made it difficult to have one-on-one time with his instructor. So, he dropped out of the GED program and returned to construction work.

One of Jacob’s friends, who had also dropped out of high school, told him about the American YouthWorks YouthBuild program. As a part of the overall WERC program, American YouthWorks YouthBuild is a career training program that helps young adults learn hands-on constructions skills and green building techniques while constructing houses for low-income, first time homebuyers. Jacob’s flexible schedule allowed him to work part-time on a YouthBuild construction crew while also attending GED preparation courses with a lower instructor-to-student ratio, allowing Jacob more one-on-one time with his instructor. American YouthWorks/WERC paid for Jacob’s GED tests, all of which he passed the first time!

Jacob discussed career options with American YouthWorks/WERC counselors, who encouraged him to explore careers such as automotive mechanic and welding. He had taken an automotive mechanic class in high school and decided he was not interested in that career, so he decided to try welding.

As a part of American YouthWorks/WERC, Jacob completed several introductory and intermediate welding courses at Austin Community College (ACC). “I didn’t like math in school, but once it was put into construction terms, it clicked,” he said. “It became interesting.”

At ACC, Jacob’s welding instructor valued his raw talent and recommended him for an internship at a small welding company. American YouthWorks/WERC paid for Jacob’s 300-hour internship.

By the end of his internship, Jacob had impressed the company so much that he received a full-time job offer! Empowered by the offer, he expanded his job search and accepted a position with a larger company that allowed for more opportunities to learn his craft. “My boss relies on me to do my own job; he trusts me to work fast and hard, to push myself to the limit. I like the independence,” Jacob said.

Not content with one opportunity, Jacob interviewed for and was accepted into the Sheet Metal Workers Union! He has completed the first year of a four-year apprenticeship program and takes union classes such as drafting and welding. “The opportunities are endless,” he said.

Jacob said the American YouthWorks/WERC program gave him valuable knowledge about different careers that he did not receive in high school. “If a high school doesn’t have a lot of extracurricular options, and the student doesn’t have encouragement or knowledge [of career choices], a student might be content to work whatever job he or she can find,” he said. “You have to not be content, always push for more.”


About WERC

The Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC) is a City of Austin-funded network of community partners linked to help prepare Austin-area residents to enter or reenter today’s competitive job market. With 38 locations, WERC provides client services ranging from Adult Basic Education (ABE) and English as a Second Language (ESL) to job readiness instruction and occupational training with the goal of empowering clients with the skills they need to advance their employment opportunities and realize their economic potential. For more information, please visit www.wercaustin.com.

Polishing Rusty Skills

5 Aug

All3OfUsChriss Rathbun, a self-proclaimed “geek” and experienced information technology professional, loves the IT industry and has successfully weathered its highs and lows. He lost his Project Management job in the early 2000s during the dot com bubble, and bounced back in 2004 with an IT management position, which he held for 10 years. However, Mr. Rathbun faced his biggest career hurdle in 2014, when his company centralized its IT division to Pennsylvania, forcing its employees to choose between moving or staying in Austin.


“I literally worked myself out of a job,” Mr. Rathbun said. He had developed a way for his company’s offices around the nation to streamline IT issues through the Pennsylvania-based division. Once that system was in place, his company made the decision to eliminate the IT department in Austin.


Mr. Rathbun was unwilling to leave Austin, a tech-friendly city that “appeals to my inner geek,” where he has put down firm roots. In addition to the home he bought more than a decade ago, he met and married his wife, Anastasia, in Austin, and their daughter, Ella, was born in their Austin home.


After searching for jobs without assistance from February through August 2014, Mr. Rathbun soon realized that, although he had a college degree and significant professional experience, employers wanted more. Throughout his career, Mr. Rathbun had become an experienced IT Project Manager, but he had never obtained professional Project Management or current IT certifications, such as ITIL. He needed to obtain the certifications to “cover what I’d been doing for the last 25 years,” he said.


Mr. Rathbun also experienced some significant health issues, which were exacerbated by the stress of losing his job. With medical bills and mortgage payments looming, Mr. Rathbun reached out to Workforce Solutions to help him get ahead of the curve.


Mr. Rathbun was eligible for Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Dislocated Worker Program training, and he worked with Kathryn Riley at Workforce Solutions to choose a training package that would make him more marketable. From August to December 2014, Mr. Rathbun obtained several Microsoft certifications, a Project Management Professional credential and ITIL service management training and certification through St. Edward’s University. “I completed those trainings while becoming healthy; I focused on that and recreating who I was,” Mr. Rathbun said.


While Mr. Rathbun had the full support of his “lovely ladies” – his wife and daughter – at home, his classmates also encouraged him to persevere through his medical and financial issues. “My instructors and I, as well as some of my classmates, still keep in touch,” Mr. Rathbun said. “If I were in a vacuum without family and the support of Workforce Solutions, I don’t know if I’d have had the determination to complete the classes and get the certifications. But my family needed me and supported me, and so did other people I’d met who’d been laid off. With their support, I kept on trucking and got it done.”


In addition to his training courses, Mr. Rathbun also attended interview and resume classes at WFS career centers and joined a networking job club, which he attended once a week. The courses helped refresh his job search skills, which were rusty since he had worked at his previous position for 10 years. “I learned so much at these classes about tricks to get my resume seen,” Mr. Rathbun said. “While working in IT management, I read thousands of resumes and interviewed hundreds of people. I wouldn’t have gone to these classes if I hadn’t been forced to go, but I was amazed by how much I learned.”


While enrolled in his training program, Mr. Rathbun and his family experienced financial hardship when his unemployment insurance ended. So, they got creative. “My family needed to do some spring cleaning anyway, so we held multiple garage sales and sold items on eBay, Amazon and other sites.”


Mr. Rathbun and his family also received a one-time mortgage assistance payment through the WIOA program while he was completing his studies. His hard work paid off, and he obtained employment as a Senior IT Project Manager shortly after his training programs ended! Mr. Rathbun plans to continue expanding his skill set by obtaining additional certifications.


Kathryn Riley with Workforce Solutions said she was impressed by how Mr. Rathbun remained dedicated to his training although he and his family endured challenges. “Chriss handled all the challenges and continued to excel in school. Chriss maintained a positive attitude and applied himself to training and his job search,” Ms. Riley said.


“Don’t be too proud to get help,” Mr. Rathbun advises other job seekers. “You’ve got a family and responsibilities, and you don’t have to do it on your own. My advice to someone in a similar situation is to immediately go down to Workforce Solutions and get into a job club. Don’t underestimate the programs, don’t underestimate the training, and don’t try to do it by yourself. Take advantage of the wonderful people and programs available there.”


About the WIOA Dislocated program

The Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. For more information program specifics and eligibility requirements, please visit our site.

Hitting the Ground Running

2 Jul

WheTiare Marshalln Tiare Marshall, a native Alaskan, moved to Texas with her now ex-husband in February 2011, she didn’t know anyone. In November 2013, Ms. Marshall relocated from Dallas to Austin after her separation to begin a new life as a single parent. When the former stay-at-home mother made the brave decision to start a new life in Austin, she knew she had to choose the right path for herself and her young son.

Ms. Marshall has always been creative and fascinated with the hair and salon industry. With the freedom to pursue her interests, she researched cosmetology schools and was accepted to Baldwin Beauty Schools in early 2014.

While in school, Ms. Marshall received childcare assistance from the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), managed by Workforce Solutions Capital Area, and found an exceptional childcare facility that she and her son love. However, once she graduated in March 2015, she became ineligible for childcare assistance through CCDF.

“It was a really stressful time,” Ms. Marshall said. “I didn’t know how I could attend interviews without childcare.”

Ms. Marshall received childcare assistance through Travis County Continuity of Care, also managed by Workforce Solutions, during a 90-day job search period. Through her tireless effort, she secured employment within 30 days!

“The hardest part was being unsure about my employment situation,” Ms. Marshall said. “I would spend hours every day researching because I wanted to find a job that was right for both of us, not just any job.”

Theresa Nealy, who enrolled Ms. Marshall in childcare assistance at Workforce Solutions, credited her for being ambitious and goal oriented. “It’s wonderful to be of service to Ms. Marshall,” Ms. Nealy said. “She is humble and pleasant. I’m glad to see how our services enabled her to pursue her career.”

Ms. Marshall said the biggest challenge was balancing time with her son while going to school and job searching, but holding out for the career she loves was worth the effort and uncertainty. “I went through so much: being a stay-at-home mom to having to put myself out into the world of working and going to school and being away from my son. I had to really choose what was best for me and my son and make sure that both of us were happy and not settling.”

Ms. Marshall encourages others to find their passions and turn them into careers. “Even if it seems really hard as a single parent, it’s worth it to go through school and work toward a career,” she said. “Never settle, because you deserve to be happy, and your kids really deserve to be happy as well. A stressful job can affect a whole family so I wanted to work towards the right one.”

Ms. Marshall said that childcare assistance helped her hit the ground running in her pursuit of a career in cosmetology. “I really appreciate these programs [such as childcare assistance] because they help people get back on their feet. This past year I was able to achieve my dream career! My son and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.”

About Subsidized Child Care

Choosing child care is one of the most important decisions for a parent to make.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area Child Care Services provide subsidized childcare assistance to eligible low- to moderate-income families in Travis County.

For more information about the program and to determine eligibility, please visit http://www.wfscapitalarea.com/ChildcareServices/ForParents.aspx.

Navigating the Sea of Unemployment

2 Feb

The Watters - PhotoIn 2014, Natalie and Jason “J.J.” Watters found themselves in the same boat: they were both unemployed at the same time. The couple was determined to keep their heads above water even though they faced significant challenges such as debt and taking care of their two young children, so they dove head first into the CHOICES Program at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

According to their CHOICES case manager LaShaila Mitchum, the Watters went to the Workforce Solutions North Center at 7:45 a.m. every day for four weeks, where they participated in job readiness classes and searched for jobs. The Watters were “beacons of positivity,” said Ms. Mitchum, and they offered support and words of encouragement to other CHOICES participants.

Mrs. Watters said the family appreciated the classes that taught them how to interview for jobs, fill out job applications and write their resumes.

Mrs. Watters said the most challenging aspect of the couple’s job search was that many employers were slow to respond to online job applications. “There was no face-to-face contact. You have to be persistent. It’s as if you are one fish in a big sea,” she said. “You want the companies to see what you bring to the table, but without personally meeting recruiters, you’re just a piece of paper, just a resume.”

Mrs. Watters also said the on-site hiring events at Workforce Solutions’ career centers were invaluable. Mr. Watters received a notification through his WorkInTexas.com account about a UPS job fair, and he spoke face-to-face with a recruiter at the hiring event. That day, Mr. Watters filled out his application on a computer at the career center. He interviewed for a temporary truck loader position at UPS the next day, and he received a job offer on the spot. “The recruiter at the hiring event went through the whole hiring process,” Mrs. Watters said. “She left nothing uncertain.” Mr. Watters was a temporary worker until January 15, when he accepted a full-time truck loader position at UPS.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Watters, who has worked in the childcare industry for more than a decade, accepted a job offer as a curriculum coordinator and after-school and summer camp director at a children’s learning center. Her new schedule is conducive to her family; her daughter attends day care at the children’s learning center, and her son’s school is nearby.

“The Watters have truly set the standard for clients who are facing many obstacles and still manage to exceed program requirements,” said Ms. Mitchum. “Mr. Watters worked from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. and would still come to the center and is constantly praised for his work ethic. Mrs. Watters is the epitome of a family’s backbone. I have seen her in so many instances encourage other CHOICES clients to keep up the fight in efforts to provide a good-quality of life for their families as well as provide them with community resources.”

About the Choices Program

For individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers one-on-one job search assistance and support services through the Choices program.  Choices is a no-cost employment program designed to give TANF recipients the assistance and support they need to find a job. Specifically, Choices can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care
  • Transportation assistance
  • Work-related expenses
  • Referrals to other community services

Eligibility for the Choices program and TANF is determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). For more information about eligibility requirements, please visit http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Help/Financial/temporary-assistance.shtml.

Skills without the Means

9 Sep

James Poissot - PhotoJames Poissot is no stranger to hard work and unfortunately harder times.  Following high school, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.  After serving 9 years, including 4 tours in Afghanistan and 5 tours in Iraq, James exited the military and returned to the civilian workforce in the midst of the Great Recession.

Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, James traveled around the U.S., unsure of where he could plant roots. SXSW might have brought James to Austin but the people he met kept him here.

“Never had anybody anywhere shown that much concern for me,” says James. “Every other place in the country treats their veterans poorly. They just offer words, no help.”

While he may have found the city he wanted to call home, James still had one significant hurdle to overcome.  Despite having acquired some very specific skills in the military, including working as an auto mechanic, James struggled to find gainful employment.  This lack of steady employment unfortunately led James to become homeless for several years.

Challenges and hurdles aside, James refused to give up hope, applying for jobs regularly.

“It felt like I’d put in 1,000 jobs a day,” says James.

One day, James met a service manager with a local transmission shop.  He explained that despite his current homeless status, he had prior experience working on manual and automatic transmissions in the military.  By owning his valuable skills and taking the risk to outreach, James found an employer willing to work with him.  The only thing he had left to do was to get the tools. That need and a recommendation led James to Workforce Solutions.

As a part of the WIA program with Workforce Solutions, James was able to acquire the necessary tools to perform the job duties as a transmission mechanic.  He also worked with representatives from the Texas Veterans Commission stationed within the local Workforce Solutions Career Center.

James says, “People really are appreciative of our defense of their freedom. If [a veteran] wants better, they can find better with Workforce.”

James is now fully employed and saving up to put a deposit down on an apartment. With a little help, this veteran finally has his life back on track.


About the WIA Program

The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. Specifically, WIA can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care assistance while in training
  • Transportation assistance
  • Interview clothing and uniforms
  • Tools needed for your new job
  • Funding for basic skills and occupational training


For more information about the program and eligibility, please visit www.wfscapitalarea.com.


An Untapped Resource

25 Jul

Tazio Lotts - Photo.docxWork saves us from the three great evils of vice, boredom and poverty.” – Voltaire

After 50 years of success in the business world, Thomas “Tazio” Lotts considered a quiet retirement.  However, it quickly became apparent that he still had more he desired to give. At the gentle urging of his wife, Tazio sought out new opportunities.

“The mechanism of looking for a job at my age is different than for those coming straight out of college,” says Tazio. “But older workers are an untapped resource. We don’t often need much, just enough to stay off the ragged [financial] edge and active.”

While volunteering at a local consignment store, he learned about the AARP’s Senior Community Service Employment Program.  As a part of that program, Tazio began working part-time at the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Career Center in East Austin.

Tazio, who gave up his car seven years ago, utilizes public transit to get to work. However, he says he does not mind the three hour daily commute.

“My commute affords me the opportunity to read and listen to music and an eclectic mix of philosophy CDs,’ says Tazio. “Plus, I am able to continue my long-term/ongoing commitment to understanding the myriad of meanings and messages of James Joyce’s ‘Finnegans Wake.’”

Tazio is thankful for the opportunity and flexibility of his new position.  No longer interested in working a full 40-hour work week, this position allows Tazio to remain busy while bringing in income to supplement Social Security.

“You used to be able to live on Social Security,” says Tazio. “But rent, utilities and food have gone up significantly [more than Social Security].”

As a part of the Workforce Solutions team, Tazio now helps job seekers utilize the free services our Centers offer, including the online employment database WorkInTexas.com.

“I’ve gotten a different feeling about the Austin community in this job,” says Tazio.  “It’s not a charity. I’m just helping to get people ready for the jobs that are available. I’ve been really impressed with some of the people I’ve had the opportunity to work with. It’s a nice feeling to be helpful.”

“I didn’t even know I had these skill sets. They were dormant.”


About the Senior Community Service and Employment Program (SCSEP)

The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) has been serving older workers for over 40 years.  Through that program, AARP Foundation operates 70+ community based project sites in 22 states and Puerto Rico. The mission of this program is to provide subsidized training opportunities to low income individuals age 55+ and assist them with securing permanent, unsubsidized employment. AARP Foundation remains the most successful national sponsor in both service rates and exits for employment.

SCSEP is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor with support from AARP and the AARP Foundation. The program provides comprehensive training and support that helps individuals to:

  • Obtain new job knowledge
  • Enhance existing skills
  • Gain a competitive edge in today’s job market
  • Find and maintain employment

To be eligible for SCSEP, applicants must be unemployed, 55 or over, meet income guidelines and be interested in bettering their current employment circumstances.  To see a list of locations nationwide, please visit http://www.aarpworksearch.org/Pages/Locations.aspx.