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Austin’s Child Care Providers Receive Cleaning Supplies at No Cost from Workforce Solutions Capital Area

27 Aug
Workforce Solutions staff help load cleaning supplies

To assist Austin’s child care providers with maintaining safe and clean centers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Child Care Services team held a cleaning supplies pickup event on August 21 and 22 at the Travis County Purchasing Warehouse. One hundred fifty-three providers from all around the Austin metro area signed up.

Providers received pallet-sized orders of cleaning supplies—everything from dish soap, sanitizing wipes, gloves, paper towels and more—at no cost. Our team sorted and prepared thousands of pounds of supplies ahead of the pickup days—25,277 pounds, to be exact!

One of the participating centers was Eanes Independent School District, which has two centers with almost 85 children in care, according to Jeannie Young, Child Development Center Coordinator.

“When we closed in March, we left on spring break and never went back. Now we are reopening and one of our concerns was do we have enough supplies to truly operate,” Jeannie said.

“This is a really wonderful gift to make sure we start our year strong and we have plenty of supplies to keep us going while we build up our stock,” she said.

Brianna Hodges is the Center Director at Prodigy Child Development Center, with 83 children in care. “When I heard about this event, I was excited! My prayers have been answered. This is tremendous help,” she said.

What will get cleaned first? “Everything—toys, walls, I mean it all. It all will be cleaned; we are excited to do a deep clean and maintain health and safety,” Brianna said.

“We are very thankful. Thank you again for helping us out and helping our children maintain safety in such a hard time,” said Brianna.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area is committed to supporting providers in Austin who care for the children of our region’s workforce. By providing care in a safe and nurturing environment, Austin’s child care providers are helping to develop a future workforce that is skilled and productive. Learn more about how we support child care providers on our website.

Abigail Leighton is Learning How Strong She is in Austin’s Skilled Trades

6 Aug
Abigail Leighton

Ever since childhood, Abigail Leighton has always enjoyed building things and working with her hands. This interest is what led Abigail, who has called Austin home since 2002, to the skilled trades and a budding career as an electrician.

Before entering the trades, Abigail worked in the food service industry but realized her opportunities were limited. She sought work that would pay well and help build a productive life.

“I needed to find a career path that would earn me a respectable, livable income without taking out massive student loans,” Abigail said. “I searched online for jobs that make lots of money without a college degree. Several trade jobs appeared in my search and I knew that was what I needed to do in order to improve my life and stop living paycheck to paycheck.”

Abigail called Brian Peabody, the training coordinator at Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286, to ask about applying for an apprenticeship. “I explained why I wanted to join a local union and he told me I should take the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum class to help me along,” said Abigail.

Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) is a nationally recognized, industry certificate that introduces students to the different building trades and teaches them the skills necessary to successfully apply for a registered apprenticeship, debt-free. MC3 is a standardized, comprehensive, 120-hour construction course designed to help young people and transitioning adults choose and succeed in apprenticeship programs in the skilled trades that are appropriate for them.

Abigail enrolled in the two-week program and took her training in July 2020. The students received their OSHA-10 certification, First Aid/CPR training, learned to read blueprints and, best of all, got jobs upon graduation.

“I think my true passion may actually be with the union itself. Trade jobs have given me a lot of confidence and useful skills. Local unions are something very special and I believe they have the ability to continue empowering women like myself.”

“I think the program is really special and gives people a good look into the trades, and what it means to be part of a union. I only wish they had the classes more often so I could start sending people I know to take it. Brian Peabody has really put a lot of time and effort into teaching MC3 and it is such a valuable experience,” Abigail said.

Meeting the people who work in all the local unions was an experience Abigail enjoyed. “It was such a unique experience to observe their jobs and see the passion for what they do. The program is run by good people who care about the success of others and it shows,” she said.

“I had a very skewed idea of what most tradespeople were like. I always assumed people were plumbers, or electricians, or ironworkers because their dads were—that they grew up learning to fix things and that they have always known how to use tools or work with their hands. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I was very tool illiterate when I first started my journey in this industry, and now I use power tools every day and own my own angle grinder,” said Abigail.

Abigail began working with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 520 on July 20.

“I was sold on being a plumber at first but then we took a tour of the electrician’s training facility and it started changing my mind. I thought the work they did looked very interesting and I kept finding myself considering it more and more at home after class,” she said.

“We did mock job interviews and Marc Pendleton from Local 520 was there. He was such a delight to sit down with and I really enjoyed our interview. The health benefits and retirement options with 520 were some of the best, and they have a picnic committee. What’s not to love?” Abigail said.

While her journey as a union apprentice has just begun, Abigail already knows her future lies in the trades.

“I want other women who felt like me to know that this is attainable and the union is there to help and support you along the way.”

“My short-term goal is to finish the five-year apprenticeship and become a journeyman—or journeywoman, if you will! After that, I may pursue a masters license to start my own business and employ other union members,” said Abigail.

“I think my true passion may actually be with the union itself. Trade jobs have given me a lot of confidence and useful skills. Local unions are something very special and I believe they have the ability to continue empowering women like myself,” she said.

“I have a new long-term goal and that is to show other women that they can do this too. Skilled trades may currently be a male-dominated industry, but it doesn’t have to be. Women make wonderful tradespeople and have so much to offer to this industry. The only thing holding women back from learning a trade is themselves,” said Abigail.

Abigail Leighton and Marc Pendleton

Marc Pendleton, Organizational Development Specialist for Local 520, agreed: “We encourage women to be electricians because they have great attention to detail. I learned the tricks of the trade 14 years ago from a great Journeywoman,” Marc said.

“We can think we aren’t tough enough, or strong enough, or knowledgeable enough—but that just isn’t true. I want other women who felt like me to know that this is attainable and the union is there to help and support you along the way.”

She added, “If you are willing to work hard and learn new things, the union and other tradespeople will teach you everything you need to know. Get ready to sweat and buy some nice gel insoles for your boots! Other than that, a good attitude is all you will need.”

Job training and the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum
Interested in pursuing a career with a union-based apprenticeship program? To learn more about trainings like MC3, go to the North America’s Building Trades Unions website.

Connect with Hiring Employers Virtually–and do it with a Soundtrack!

5 Aug

Austin’s venues are closed for the time being, so to help Austin’s performers to earn income in the meantime, we partnered with Austin Texas Musicians (ATXM) to host a virtual job fair on Thursday, August 6 from 10 am to 4 pm. You can register to attend here.

Now Austin’s gig workers and other job seekers can explore work opportunities around the Austin metro area, including work-from-home positions–and the best part? They can do it with a soundtrack!

Four ATXM members will perform live during the day, providing a real Austin touch to this event. Check out the lineup:

Scott Strickland

10:30 am: Scott Strickland
With a sound some have described as “Paul Simon dancing in MC Hammer pants” and “the 3 AM jam session of Dave Matthews and Bill Withers”, the Scott Strickland Band forges ahead on a new path; a sound unheard in today’s musical lexicon. It is a sound mature and textured, yet playfully improvised enough to have the listener intently wonder where the work is going next.

Lex Land

12:00 pm: Lex Land
Lex Land is an American singer-songwriter and jazz vocalist from Los Angeles, currently residing in Austin, Texas. She was a contestant on the second season of NBC’s singing competition The Voice. Land also fronts three other projects: Moorhaunter, One Big Dark Room, and The Kremer Land Swing Band. Intelligent Noise Records released her first two albums, Orange Days on Lemon Street in 2008, and Were My Sweetheart to Go… in 2011. Both albums had songs featured on television programs.

Sonya Jevette

12:00 pm: Sonya Jevette
The words sultry, cool, and eccentric best describe the singer, songwriter, and musician Sonya Jevette. She was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Sonya Jevette grew up singing to the great R&B tunes that dominated the airwaves in the seventies. As a teen she honed her vocal talent through the church choir. Winning a talent contest at the age of seventeen was the beginning of Sonya Jevette’s journey. From there, she went on to win dozens of competitions. These successes translated into media attention from radio & newspaper with appearances at over 100 festivals.

Dave Madden

3:00 pm: Dave Madden
Dave Madden was voted Best Music Arranger at the AMP Austin Music Industry Awards, and Top 10 Best Keyboardists as voted by the Austin Chronicle’s Music Poll. Dave is a member of the Recording Academy and a voting member for the Grammy’s.

Madden is the rare combination of accomplished songwriter and masterful multi-instrumentalist. His peers consider him a “musician’s musician”. He is an alum of the illustrious TED organization, having performed and presented a striking dissertation on music theory at TEDxNapaValley in 2015.

Dave equally enjoys creating his own music and collaborating with others. He has been hired to perform with a diverse range of world-class artists, from reggae-pop favorite Michael Franti to legendary rock icon Steve Miller, from platinum-selling band Fastball to Mark Mothersbaugh, co-founder of Devo.

Kelly Thomas is Providing a Future for Her Daughter with Help from Child Care Services

29 Jul
Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas on her graduation day

Learning a new skill set to pursue a new career takes time and resources. For parents with young children who want to take this path, having available and affordable child care is essential. Kelly Thomas, who has lived in Austin since 2001, has completed cosmetology training and is now weighing her career options, and she can do so having received support with child care.

In September 2018, Kelly was receiving support from the nonprofit AnyBabyCan. Her parent navigator there told her about child care tuition scholarships offered by Workforce Solutions Capital Area and suggested that Kelly enroll.

“Workforce Solutions have been amazing for providing opportunities to help me and provide resources for finding and keeping child care,” Kelly said.

“Workforce Solutions helped me through the process of applying and renewing for care, and the staff was so kind and always there to help me,” she said. “Anytime I had an issue with something—like reporting attendance—they were there right away to help.”

Photo - Kelly Thomas 003

Kelly Thomas with her daughter

Kelly enrolled in the 1,500-hour cosmetology operator program at Nuvani Beauty School at the end of 2019 and graduated in July 2020. Today Kelly is now preparing for her state board to receive her license to work as a cosmetologist. While her cosmetology plans are on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly remains focused on what she will do with her newly earned skills.

“Ideally, I would like to either work under an apprenticeship at a full salon,” she said, “or possibly work at a blow out bar, doing shampoos, styles, braiding and special requests.”

For other parents in Austin seeking assistance, Kelly emphasizes that enrolling in the child care program will provide future benefits for parents and their children: “The program works to help people to not just have a better life, but a better future for themselves and their children,” Kelly said.

“There was no way I could have finished my program without this help. I have had a lot of hardships in my life and this was my big break. Now I can definitely provide a future for my daughter,” said Kelly.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area Child Care Services
Enrollment in the childcare program is subject to the availability of funds. Because the need for childcare services is great in our community, we currently maintain a list of families interested in enrolling in the childcare program.

When enrollment into the program is not immediately available, we ask eligible parents to complete a pre-assessment form to be added to the interested list. At any time, parents may call our office to check on the status of enrollment.

Learn more at our For Parents page.

Desmond Roberson is Elevating His Life with Hands-On Work in the Skilled Trades

9 Jul

Desmond Roberson

Desmond Roberson

Desmond Roberson is not just building a career in Austin—he’s helping to literally build Austin.

Desmond has lived in Austin all his life. Today he is a member of Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No 67. Working in Austin’s skilled trades industry wasn’t his original plan but today Desmond is satisfied with a career that lets him work with his hands.

“I started with the Sheet Metal Workers in 2019,” Desmond said. “I was in the construction program at American YouthWorks so this kind of work wasn’t new to me. At the time, I was out of school and had been trouble a couple times and was working a temp job. When I was let go, I remembered I could always come back to American YouthWorks for help.”

Desmond did ask for help, which is where he learned about the Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3). This nationally recognized program introduces students to the different building trades and teaches them the skills necessary to successfully apply for a registered apprenticeship, debt-free, over a two-week training time. Desmond enrolled in the May 2019 class, which was held at Local 67 in partnership with Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 286.

As the training days passed, Desmond gathered many positive impressions of work in the skilled trades: “I liked how you are not just in a class. In the MC3 program, you do what you have to do and stay on task—and you will get a job. You receive an opportunity to elevate your life,” he said.

“You learn what each trade is and what the work is like, so you can determine which is the best suit for you. You have the option and freedom to choose where to branch off into after graduating” Desmond said.

“I chose the sheet metal union because my MC3 class was in their union hall. I saw those workers and how they were like a brotherhood and thought that was a good suit for me,” said Desmond.

Desmond joined the Registered Apprenticeship program with Local 67 in August 2019 and began working in the union’s shop. “In this trade, you go from the shop to the field,” he said.

“At first, I was making ductwork from scratch, taking sheet metal and making bins. Now I am working downtown on Colorado and Sixth streets. I think it’s amazing. In the field, I install the ducts in the units. I can see the whole process of the project.”

For young people who are unsure what to do next in life, like Desmond once was, he offers some advice.

“I grew up around a lot of people who made mistakes growing up. When I post work videos on social media, they see me and wonder how I am able to do this. I tell them to get with the MC3 program. I want to lead people to this program. If you have the will to better your life, the program is there for you,” Desmond said.

If you are interested in enrolling for job training, whether in the skilled trades or another growing industry in Austin, visit our Job Training page to get started.

All Requests to Transfer Child Care Now Require a 2-Week Notice

8 Jul

Pretty Young Single Mom Working At Home On A Laptop Computer WhiEffective immediately, Workforce Solutions Capital Area is implementing a requirement of a two-week notice for all requests to transfer your children to another child care provider.

Please contact us if you require a transfer. We will work with you to transfer your care and provide you with a start date for service at the new provider you have selected. We are available by email at austinccs@wfscapitalarea.com.

If you would like to call us, we are currently working remotely and are available by phone at 512.549.4967, option 5. We are currently receiving a high volume of calls.

If you are unable to get in touch with one of our staff members, please leave a detailed message with your name, phone number, and email address. One of our staff members will contact you as soon as possible.

Brianna Pleasant is Building a Career in Austin’s Culinary World

19 Feb

Brianna Pleasant

Brianna Pleasant

Young residents of Austin/Travis County who are interested in job skills training and employment opportunities can find them with Workforce Solutions Capital Area and partners like Goodwill Central Texas. Brianna Pleasant discovered just such an opportunity in 2019 and today is exploring a future in Austin’s culinary world.

In March 2019, Brianna visited a friend at her former high school. While there, Brianna met her friend’s counselor, who talked with Brianna about support services available at Goodwill.

“She said I might try the program, because it could help me get my driver’s license and a job within a specific field,” Brianna said.

At Goodwill, Brianna met with Shaun-Patrice Williams, In School Youth Career Case Manager. Together, they explored opportunities for Brianna to continue her education and in-demand occupations to pursue as a future career in Austin’s skilled workforce.

Brianna completed her CAT training with Goodwill, and next interned at the Central Texas Food Bank from July to October. While there, she completed the Food Bank’s Culinary Training Program, a 12-week mix of classroom time and hands-on job training for basic culinary skills. The program provides real-world experience in the Food Bank’s kitchen, where students like Brianna work with commercial equipment and food production. Brianna also received transportation assistance from Goodwill to go to and from her training and internship.Goodwill Central Texas offers a variety of job-readiness training programs, such as Career Advancement Training (CAT). CAT includes a five-day, immersive boot camp, utilizing hands-on activities that are designed to prepare job seekers to find and retain employment. CAT offers financial literacy training, resume and mock interview training, and more.

While participating, Brianna completed 30 hours of food safety training and earned the ServSafe Food Handler’s certification. Her internship was a paid one, “which helped me to save money for a car,” Brianna said.

With her training complete and her internship successfully concluded, Brianna began job searching—and quickly found work at Jeffrey’s, a New American restaurant in west Austin.

“On my graduation day, I started my job as a pastry line cook at Jeffrey’s,” Brianna said. “My day goes by in increments of 23 minutes as I bake bread for the ever-growing crowds of hungry customers. I also make cheese boards, the most popular dessert we offer.”

What’s next for Brianna? Plans for home ownership and continuing her culinary education!

“I’m considering getting a second job and moving into a home of my own while finishing up my driver’s license. I’m also considering joining Austin Community College’s culinary program to further my education in the culinary world, and possibly 3-D design, too,” said Brianna.

About WIOA Youth
WIOA Youth is part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program funded through Workforce Solutions Capital Area. WIOA is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. WIOA offers financial assistance to eligible individuals for job search assistance, training, and other support services.

We served 371 youth through this program in 2019. Visit our WIOA page to learn more.

At Westview Middle School, an Eighth Grade Group Inspires the Student Body About Future Careers in Austin’s Workforce

7 Feb

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Victoria Leonardo, standing second from left, with student organizers at the career fair.

For Westview Middle School in Pflugerville Independent School District, February was a big month for career exploration.

Sixteen eighth graders, participating in the civics program Speak Up, Speak Out, hosted their school’s first career fair on February 7 with assistance from Victoria Leonardo, our Career & Education Outreach Specialist for Pflugerville Independent School District.

Speak Up, Speak Out is a civic education program designed to teach third grade through twelfth grade students about their communities, and is led by the Moody College of Communication at the university of Texas at Austin.

“Many of the students have parents who work low-skill jobs, so the youth think that’s all that is available to them,” Victoria said. “With this event, we can introduce them to many different occupations that they may have not thought about before and understand what it takes to get these jobs.”

Eighth grader Camila Valdez said, “It’s about how students aren’t well informed about careers. We want to help them take better paths to a better future.”

Eight hundred fifty students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades attended the career fair in the school’s gym and interacted with 16 partners, including Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin Carpenters Local 1266, and Westview’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers.

To fill the gym with vendors to speak to students, the organizers worked together to make a lot of phone calls, according to Jasmine Cortes, a Speak Up, Speak Out member: “We started by contacting people to come. We worked together to find people to come, and our teacher put in time to contact people. We planned it all in a short time.”

Alfredo Mendoza helped create banners for the partners and set up tables beforehand: “I was nervous at the beginning, but by working together we got it done. I saw a lot of kids interacting and enjoying the career fair,” he said.

Candace Hennessy is a recruiting coordinator for Parsley Energy who attended the career fair. “It was a great first experience for me. Most of the kids were engaged and all of them were respectful, so it was fun interacting with them,” she said.

Jennifer Painter-Beillon, Round Rock Campus Director for Central Texas Beauty College, said, “The kids were so engaging. Better engagement than any other school we’ve been to, including the high schools.”

Our team of outreach specialists serve students in grades 6 through 12 in Austin, Del Valle, Elgin, Manor and Pflugerville ISDs. This is a two-year program in partnership with school districts throughout the Austin metro area, for which we received a Workforce Career and Education Outreach Specialist Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Our team of specialists has served more than 11,000 students since the grant began in July 2019.

Garza High School Seniors Discover Career-Related Learning Opportunities at Programs Showcase

5 Feb

ACC Programs Showcase

What to do after graduating high school? Some seniors plan to go to work, others to continue their education. But where to take their learning? At Garza High School, 160 seniors interested in what their local community college offers explored opportunities at the Austin Community College (ACC) Programs Showcase on February 5, 2020.

Representatives from 13 ACC programs, including Engineering & Manufacturing, Computer Studies, and Dental Hygienist, met with students throughout the day in the school’s gym. ACC’s Financial Aid and Support Center, which provides childcare scholarships and textbooks, provided students information about supportive services available to community college students. Also represented was the Workforce and Education Readiness Continuum (WERC), a City of Austin- and Travis County-funded network of community partners linked to help prepare Austin-area residents to enter or reenter the job market.

The Programs Showcase came together thanks to the coordinating efforts of Stephanie Calderon, one of our four Career & Education Outreach Specialists. Stephanie serves students, parents, teachers and counselors in south Austin and Del Valle Independent School Districts.

“It’s important for students to learn about career pathways available at their local community college,” Stephanie said. “Some seniors think ACC is only for the basics, but there are many different departments to find careers needed in our workforce.”

Christine Garza, 18, was most interested in the Childcare & Development program: “It was my favorite. I learned about the basics of what they do and the process of what the class can provide for me,” Christine said.

“After graduation, I’m going to decide on a four-year degree or go to ACC,” Christine said. “I definitely want to earn a four-year degree, with a major in social work or maybe psychology.”

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Christine Garza, 18, talks with Stephanie Calderon, a Career and Education Outreach Specialist at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

Our team of outreach specialists serve students in grades 6 through 12 in Austin, Del Valle, Elgin, Manor and Pflugerville ISDs. This is a two-year program in partnership with school districts throughout the Austin metro area, for which we received a Workforce Career and Education Outreach Specialist Grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

Our team of specialists has served more than 11,000 students since the grant began in July 2019.

Texas Veterans Find Employment Opportunities in Austin at Hiring Red, White & You!

13 Dec

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Hiring Red, White & You! is an annual statewide hiring event for veterans, hosted by the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) in cooperation with all 28 workforce development boards. This year, we partnered with TWC, the Texas Veterans Commission, and the City of Austin to host the job fair at our North Career Center on November 7.

The event was an enormous success: 172 job seekers, including 93 veterans, connected with 46 employers and 14 service providers to explore work and training opportunities in Austin’s skilled workforce.

One of those hiring employers was the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD). Jim Espinoza, an HR recruiter, represented the Giddings State School, a juvenile correctional facility near Giddings in Lee County.

“My supervisor at the central office invited me to the Austin job fair, and I said I would love to,” Jim said. “Registering for this event was simple, convenient and efficient.”

At Hiring Red, White & You, Jim would raise awareness about career opportunities as youth development coaches at the Giddings State School.

“The coaches act as mentors and positive role models for youth, to help them with rehabilitation and meeting all their needs,” Jim said. “We also have mental health specialists, case managers and teachers and teacher’s aides at each facility.”

At Hiring Red, White & You, Jim shared job opportunities with interested veterans throughout the day: “I had a lot of good face-to-face contact with veterans, young men and women who shared a lot with me, had copies of their resumes for me, and took a liking to what TJJD offers. I had close to 40 signatures from job seekers who wanted to be contacted.”

For Jim, this veterans job fair was a valuable opportunity to network with other hiring organizations to connect Austin’s veterans with job openings.

“Hiring Red, White & You has a good setup where people can spread the word about employment opportunities. I looked across the room and saw a little bit of everything,” Jim said. “I met many good people and I will remember them because I can make referrals for the veterans I meet.’

Over the rest of November, Jim interviewed five veterans who expressed interest in working as youth development coaches at the Giddings State School and hired three.

“We had a big increase of applicants online and individuals going to the facility to turn in an application,” said Jim. “Interest has blossomed, and we have received a lot more exposure, which is a win for everybody—especially the veterans who find work that makes them happy and meets what they would love to do.”

For employers interested in hiring more veterans, Jim offered this advice: “Mark your calendars and come to this event. Hiring Red, White & You impressed me, and I had a good feeling when I left. I will be attending from here on out.”

Veterans Services
If you are a veteran looking for a job, Workforce Solutions Capital Area can assist you with your search. Veterans receive priority for job and training referrals at our three Career Centers. Our career specialists are specifically trained to help veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and can help you achieve maximum employment and training opportunities. Learn more about available services for veterans.