For St. George’s Episcopal School, a Commitment to Quality is for Students and Teachers Alike

19 Apr

Each year, Workforce Solutions Capital Area hosts the Child Care Directors Symposium, an educational event for child care providers in Austin and Travis County to connect and share ideas. This year, one of the attendees was St. George’s Episcopal School in Austin.

St. George’s Episcopal School was established in 1966, and serves 100 children. The school’s mission is to be an inclusive community and to inspire children to love learning by nurturing each child’s mind, body and spirit, according to director Jerri Thompson.

St George's Episcopal School 002

St. George’s Episcopal School has provided child care services to Austin families for decades.

The school has had a relationship with Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Child Care Services program since 2011, and this was the fifth year the school attended the Child Care Directors Symposium, Thompson said.

“This was the first time I sent Lead Teachers who have 15-plus years of experience and hold lead roles in the school to the conference. I sent these teachers because I saw they were experiencing burnout and were looking for more challenges in their field,” she said.

Over the two-day event, Thompson observed her team becoming more inspired and discovering new ideas.

“During our time at the conference, I watched as each of them grew more and more excited about what they were learning,” she said. “They made comments like, ‘Wow, we don’t get this type of information at other conferences;’ ‘This is much more advanced;’ ‘We feel special being able to attend;’ ‘Thank you for considering our feelings, and sending us to such a high-quality training;’ and ‘I love these speakers, they really know their stuff.’”

The teachers’ discussions focused on different approaches on how to work with team members, how to see their child care center through the eyes of a director, understanding how director decisions are related to the budget, and how to delegate to their teaching team, according to Thompson.

“They also learned about resources for working with children with special needs. They hear this at teacher conferences, but this session really stood out to them,” she said.

“The comments continued into the next week at school, and I witnessed these teachers pulling out their handouts and discussing what they learned with other teachers,” Thompson added.

The Child Care Directors Symposium is one of the many quality-related activities the school engages in with Workforce Solutions Capital Area, Thompson said. Another key identifier of St. George’s Episcopal School’s dedication to the delivery of quality care is their long-standing participation in the Texas Rising Star (TRS) program. The school is currently a 4-star rated program, the highest rating available.

Director Jerri Thompson reads to a class of children.

Director Jerri Thompson reads to a class of children.

“With our current tuition rates, it makes affordability difficult. The cost of high-quality care for a school that is 100% tuition driven increases the complexity of enrolling children from a lower socioeconomic status bracket, so TRS helps us support Workforce Solutions Capital Area Child Care Services families.”

We are a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accredited school, and I value organizations that recognize early childhood programs work towards excellence. I also want our school to be able to fulfill its mission of being an inclusive community,” Thompson said.

About the Texas Rising Star program
The Texas Rising Star program is for child care providers who meet quality requirements that exceed the state’s minimum licensing standards and that are designed to enhance the intellectual, physical, and social development of children in care. In return for their commitment to quality, providers receive numerous benefits including enhanced reimbursement rates, learning materials and equipment, child development college course scholarships, and more.

Learn more about the Texas Rising Star program here.


Doing Something New Every Day as a Plumber’s Apprentice

19 Mar

A desire to work with her hands and gain skills and confidence is what brought Savannah Marvets into the plumbing and pipefitting industry. Today, she is a member of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286 and close to completing her apprenticeship program and becoming a licensed plumber.

Her journey began during her senior year of high school, when she first learned about career opportunities in the plumbing and pipefitting industry.

“I knew I wasn’t ready for college, and I wanted to work with my hands, and this was the best fit,” Savannah said.

During high school, Savannah attended Tulsa Welding School’s pipefitting program in Tulsa, Okla. In 2013, she graduated high school and the program, then joined Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286 in Austin and entered their five-year apprenticeship program that September. As an apprentice, Savannah has learned in both traditional classroom setups and with hands-on experiences.

“I wanted to be confident in what I was doing, and know it well, so I could do it for myself. It gave me a lot of confidence in what I do,” she said.

Photo - Savannah Marvets 1For Savannah, on-the-job training means gaining professional experience with a local employer: “I am with a plumbing and mechanical company, and have worked on the plumbing side for about a year. We do a lot of remodels for old chillers and boilers—we replace them and run the new piping to the new systems we install. Over the summer, we work on air conditioning units at schools and government buildings,” Savannah said.

She added, “It’s a small company and I am learning a bunch. I am lucky, because I get to do it all.”

Opportunities to demonstrate her skills also come from friendly competitions: “Our local [union] had a contest, and I competed with two other students, and I beat them. Then I went to a contest in Waco with all the unions in Texas, and I won that one, too,” Savannah said.

“Then I went to the district level, which is all the states in the Southeast, and I placed third. We did a layout project, pipefitting, welding, tube bending, soldering and brazing, as well as an ISO and written test. It was a lot of fun.”

Photo - Savannah Marvets 2Plumbing is an industry traditionally dominated by men. But for Savannah, this hasn’t negatively impacted her experience: “Everyone treats me like a little sister or daughter. Everyone is looking out for me, or getting me involved in what they are trying to teach. I really like that,” she said.

Savannah was nervous at the program’s beginning, but by sticking with it and having more and more positive experiences, her doubt is gone and she has become more confident: “I feel like I’ve taken a lot from this program,” she said.

“There is always something going on in this trade, and that’s what I like most about it. One day you’re doing something and the next day you do something completely different. They keep you on your toes, but it’s fun and always a new experience,” Savannah said.

About the Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Program
The Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Program is jointly sponsored by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Austin, Inc., and Local Union 286 of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada. The program is recognized by the Texas Education Agency, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The apprenticeship program lasts five years, and requires 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and 1,225 hours of classroom instruction in subjects related to the trade. The program also includes a probation period of 1,000 hours of employment and a review at each level of advancement. The on-the-job phase requires employment by a qualified contractor, and enables apprentices to earn their way while learning the trade.

For more information, visit the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286 website.

Why William Baca Insurance Believes in Giving People a Chance

21 Feb
William Baca Insurance 002

Yvonne and Will Baca.

Will and Yvonne Baca are the owners of William Baca Insurance, an independent agent with The Farmers Insurance Group. William Baca Insurance has been in business in Travis County since 2014, and many of the employees on the team were hired with assistance from Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

The agency has had 10 Subsidized Employment placements, and five of these became full-time roles at Will’s growing company. When hiring, Will always interviews applicants at Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s North Career Center.

Robert Doherty, a Business Solutions Representative at the North Career Center, has worked with Will since he began participating in the Subsidized Employment program in 2016.

“Will has been a friend to us. He keeps coming back and is always willing to try working with a new applicant,” said Robert.

Hiring locally is not William’s only goal—training and keeping Austin workers is also important. After qualified employees complete an internship and probationary period, William Baca Insurance will assist them with advancing within the company by providing them with the means to study and take the testing required to gain licensure to become a licensed insurance agent.

William Baca Insurance 001

Will Baca attending a hiring event.


“We give people a chance so they won’t feel like they are stuck. We pay for their license, and there is a shortage of licensed people in Austin,” said Will. “I tell them that having the license makes them more employable. We will help them to take the license test, and even retake it.”

“In the Subsidized Employment program, people with a good attitude and who are motivated know they can do well,” said Will.

As a veteran, William keeps a keen eye out for other veterans seeking career opportunities. William served in the U.S. Army for eight years, achieving the rank of staff sergeant, and appreciates the value and skills that veterans bring to the workforce.

“I was in military intelligence, and when I left the military I couldn’t get a job. Military intelligence doesn’t translate well into job descriptions,” Will said. “Veterans want to hone their skills and be sharp. In insurance, you must be analytical but also personable. With vets, they know how to overcome obstacles like this.”

Will and his team are dedicated to the Austin/Travis County community outside of the office, as well. William Baca Insurance supports many community organizations, including Thank America’s Teachers, Boys & Girls Clubs, the First Tee and more.

“I volunteer for the Financial Literacy Coalition of Texas as an adviser. I used to teach classes on financial literacy as a case manager. Now I am more knowledgeable and I want to pass that along to people,” Will said.

“When we reach the next level, we should give a hand to the people below us so they can rise up, too. I know that I have benefited in life from others treating me that way,” he said.

About Subsidized Employment
Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Subsidized Employment program can reimburse participating employers 50% or more on straight-time wages for 8 weeks. The employment may be part time, less than 30 hours per week or full-time, up to 40 hours per week.

Visit Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Employee Skills Training page to learn more.

Achieving Goals and Finding Work in Two Weeks

8 Jan

Photo - Maria PeruMaria Peru is a single parent who wants to do the best she can for her three boys. However, beginning her career was a struggle without a GED or work experience. Difficulty finding child care, and also reliable transportation, only increased her challenges.

Despite these difficulties, Maria stayed motivated. In May, she attended a Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA), an introduction to Workforce Solutions office services. Through this orientation, staff worked with Maria to develop and employment plan and provided her child care so that she could look for work.

Finding child care for her son who has ADHD was a large barrier to finding work: “I was having trouble putting him in a child care center that could provide his medicine daily, so he stayed out of child care for a good two months,” Maria said.

To remove this barrier, Maria was offered assistance through the Continuity of Care Services (Coc) program. Workforce Solutions Capital Area extended child care services to assist Maria in finding and keeping a job without disruption, according to Kristi Vidaure, Child Care Customer and Provider Relations Coordinator.

With her child receiving care at a Texas Rising Star quality-rated center, Maria dedicated herself to finding work. She set a goal to place herself in a customer service role before August, and for two weeks made a full-time effort of seeking employment.

“I was at the career center every day on the computer, looking for jobs, applying for jobs, updating my resume, and also going to interviews almost every day,” Maria said. “It was hard, but also really helpful.”

Maria found a job in June—not only had she achieved her goal, but she had done it early.

Today, Maria works full time as a collections agent at Financial Corporation of America. Her future plans include earning her GED and enrolling at Austin Community College.

“My next step is going back to school for business management or legal aid. They assist people, and I am interested in that,” she said.

“Don’t give up! I didn’t give up, and I was employed in two weeks because I went to the career center every day. Workforce Solutions is awesome, and I love it,” said Maria.

About CoC
CoC serves as a dual-generation program for low-income families in Travis County, focusing on the whole child as well as the family and community context for growth and development. CoC ensures continuity of services in instances where child care would otherwise be terminated, such as when parents have completed workforce development programs and are currently seeking employment.

CoC ensures continuity of high-quality child care for low income families, serves as an investment rather than an expenditure to the City of Austin because it promotes family self-sufficiency by increasing family capacity to gain or maintain earnings, and provides consistent high-quality child care which helps prepare children to enter kindergarten.

This program is funded by Travis County and the City of Austin, and administered by the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board. Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) is an introduction to Workforce Solutions office services.

Earning Confidence and Success in the Summer Earn and Learn Program

29 Aug

Head, ColtonFor Colton Head, gaining confidence and becoming more assertive are important steps toward achieving real life work experience. To reach those steps, he began participating in the Vocational Rehabilitation program with the Texas Workforce Commission, and it was here that he learned about the Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) program, which provides pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities. Colton, born and raised in Austin, recognized the value of the opportunity before him and took it.

After entering SEAL, Colton completed a weeklong Job Readiness Boot Camp led by Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth contractor, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas: “I wanted to do it to experience what a job is and how to work,” Colton said. “So, when I am ready to have a job, I will know what to do and be able to work.”

“At the beginning of the program, Colton mentioned wanting to gain more confidence and become more assertive,” said Trent Moore, a grant project supervisor with Goodwill. “He has been doing just that. His growth from the beginning of the program to now has been outstanding.”

Colton—quiet and shy at the program’s beginning—demonstrated remarkable progress as the days went by. During the Boot Camp experience, he led small group discussions and presented ideas to the larger group, and showed positive reinforcement for his fellow group members when they shared their own ideas. With Colton’s enthusiasm, the other participants became more comfortable in participating in group discussions.

Over the summer, Colton received work experience through a job internship with H-E-B in South Austin.

“The thing I enjoyed the most was getting to know the other employees, because when I first got there, I was nervous. But they helped me whenever I needed it,” Colton said.

“They were so sweet to me, and that was nice. It touched my heart,” he added.

“Colton has continued to grow in his internship experience, and has developed many skills,” said Trent. “This newfound confidence was evident in his internship by his strong work ethic and customer-focused mindset.”

Indeed, Colton made such a good impression with his hard work and dedication to customer service, that his H-E-B supervisors want to hire him on full time.

Colton recommended SEAL as a practical solution for other students who want to gain professional experience but are unsure where to begin.

“If you want to experience what a job is, you should do an internship with Goodwill,” he said. “After that experience, you can start applying to jobs and start working, get some money.”

About SEAL

Summer Earn and Learn is a statewide initiative that provides employability skills training and a paid work experience during the summer for students with disabilities, ages 14 to 22. The program increases the availability and effectiveness of services to Texas students with disabilities, and prepares them for a successful transition to postsecondary education and careers.

Are you interested in learning more about SEAL? Visit the Texas Workforce Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services website.

Finding a New Home Through WERC

17 Jan

diana-martinezThrough a supportive network of service providers, Diana Martinez was able to make Austin her home. Diana Martinez was born in Houston, and she and her family moved to southern Mexico when she was seven. Diana attended her first year of college in 2014 until she and her parents decided that area of Mexico was too dangerous for her to remain in college.

In early 2014, Diana and her younger sister moved to Austin to live with her aunt, who helped her enroll in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Manos de Cristo. Manos de Cristo is one of eight community partner agencies in the Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC), which provides a spectrum of supportive services, literacy classes and occupational training to individuals in the Austin-Travis County area. Diana took ESL courses from May 2014 through May 2015 and received certificates for her proficiency in English.

For Diana, who was extremely homesick for her parents and friends, her ESL teachers and classmates became a second family. “I cried every day for the first three months I moved to Austin,” Diana said. “I missed my friends and was at zero with English.”

Diana dove into the ESL courses, which were taught in an immersion style where the teachers primarily spoke English to the students. Diana said the teachers were very invested in their students’ success. “I felt so special,” she said. “The teachers were always giving me support.” According to Karen Green, Diana’s case manager, Diana received about 200 hours of ESL education, including one week that specifically covered English vocabulary in the workplace.

“It was an honor to have Diana in my English class,” said Sarah Sanchez-Leal, a former AmeriCorps Vista who taught ESL courses at Manos de Cristo. “She was consistently a key contributor to the learning environment in class. She always showed up early to class and worked very hard. I’m delighted to know that all her hard work paid off. I’m also equally as pleased to know that Manos de Cristo was a useful tool in getting her to where she wants to be.”

Diana began her ESL courses with some knowledge of English, said Karen, but the courses helped her build her confidence. “I’m sure she is now thinking in English, not translating it in her head,” Karen said. “She got past the plateau.”

In addition to taking the ESL courses, Diana worked part time as a childcare leader at Manos de Cristo until Karen encouraged her to apply for an administrative assistant internship at American YouthWorks (AYW), another WERC partner agency.

“She was a great student. I saw that from the beginning,” Karen said of Diana. “Any time any [employment] opportunity came up, I kept thinking about her.”

Karen said Diana was hesitant to apply for the internship because she was worried about her English fluency and had never held an administrative assistant job. “I said, you got this, you can do it,” said Karen. “You really want to use your English and get work experience.”

Karen reviewed Diana’s resume and recommended her for the AYW internship, which Diana received! After her internship ended, AYW offered Diana a full-time administrative assistant position in May 2015. Karen said because of the interconnectedness among the WERC partner agencies, she felt very comfortable referring Diana to AYW.

Diana credits the ESL classes at Manos de Cristo and her job at AYW with helping her find her place in Austin. Diana found the courses so effective that she recommends them to AYW clients who want to learn or improve their English. Additionally, Diana’s younger sister is following in Diana’s footsteps and is taking ESL courses through Manos de Cristo! “Now, I have friends, I have work, and consider Austin my home,” Diana said.


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


Driving Toward Success in Pink Steel Toed Boots

3 Jan

nola-ryan-photoNola Ryan’s path to her career as a CDL truck driver has been rocky, but she used the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program to set herself on a path to success. Nola, a longtime Austin resident and Johnston High School (now Eastside Memorial High School) alumna, began her professional life working in a retirement system that provides benefits to state employees and retirees. However, in 2003, Nola began struggling with addiction, and she was in and out of prison through 2014.

“I went to prison five times,” Nola said. “When I got out the last time, I knew I needed to make the change. With that amount of time [in prison], I probably could’ve gotten a master’s degree.” Nola said she was tempted to return to her former lifestyle, but she was determined to succeed. “I almost slipped,” she said, “But I knew I needed to make the change for good, in order to get back into the job market and make good money.”

Nola received food stamps through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which referred her to Workforce Solutions’ occupational training services. Nola enrolled in the WIOA program through Workforce Solutions, and she took a CDL course at Austin Community College. “I looked into truck driving because it was the easiest way for me to make the money that I was making when I left [the workforce] in 2003,” she said. Truck driving training allowed Nola to obtain her CDL certification within five short weeks!

Nola said truck driving training’s short duration appealed to her, because she knew that in order for stay out of prison, she would need to train quickly and earn an income as soon as possible. Also, she wanted a change of scenery. “I was used to being behind the desk in the retirement industry,” she said. A self-described “girly girl”, Nola said, “I had never really looked into transportation and trucking. I thought it would be a different type of experience.” Importantly, she said the transportation industry can be accepting of job seekers with backgrounds. “The times I came out [of prison] previously, I let it get me down – my background issues,” Nola said.

Nola worked with Pat Sartor, a Workforce Solutions WIOA Career Counselor, to enroll in CDL training. “I was very proactive about when I could start training,” Nola said. She visited ACC and spoke with a recruiter, and she also conducted online research about CDL training. “Everything just happened really fast,” she said. “Pat took the initiative to get me in there as fast as I could. Pat made it happen for me. She didn’t allow me any time to get discouraged.” Nola attended a rigorous class schedule for five weeks – 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tim Loch, an instructor with the CDL program, was “encouraging, supportive and informative, to say the least,” Nola said. With the help of Tim and the rest of the ACC CDL staff, Nola passed the CDL test!

Before Nola began training, she had attended a job fair for Goodwill, at which Goodwill offered Nola a full time job. When Nola began her rigorous training, Goodwill’s Jason Stewart worked with Nola’s schedule and allowed her flexible weekend hours working part time in its warehouse. “I knew I wanted to drive [as a CDL truck driver] for Goodwill,” Nola said, and she hoped that Goodwill would promote from within once she obtained her CDL.

On July 27, 2016, Goodwill promoted Nola to a full time position as a box truck driver! Nola hopes that a CDL driver position will become available, but for now she enjoys learning how the entire Goodwill organization works, not just one particular position.

Nola said she enjoys driving for Goodwill, and she especially appreciates the “empowering experience” of breaking barriers in a field in which women are underrepresented. “I’m a girly girl, so I don’t see too many women like me who are in the industry,” Nola said. “I’d never owned a pair of steel toed boots. But mine are pink!”


About the WIOA Program

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

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 


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

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