SAN ANTONIO — Michael Ramsey joined San Antonio’s newly-formed Workforce Development Department in August with a nearly $200 million task to change the lives of those confronted with employment challenges.
“Ready to Work is a longterm solution to some of the workforce issues that have plagued San Antonio for some time now,” said Michael Ramsey, executive director of the city’s Workforce Development Department.
Workforce Solutions Alamo reported February’s unemployment rate in the San Antonio-New Braunfels MSA was 4.2% compared to 6.3% during the same month in 2021.
The more than $180 million SA: Ready to work program will be funded through a 1/8 cent sales and use tax through December 2025.
More than 15,000 qualified individuals will receive tuition, support services, emergency funding, and job placement services.
Ramsey noted more than 160 employers in a variety of fields have already pledged their support to work with city on providing guidance for what they expect in desired employees.
The pledge is a non-contractual commitment by companies such as H-E-B, USAA, Frost Bank, and Toyota to hire graduates of the SA: Ready to Work program.
Ramsey said the creation of a talent pipeline will prove beneficial for companies in healthcare, manufacturing and cyber-related fields, among several other industries.
“These companies are in desperate need of talent. The labor supply here in San Antonio, like many large metropolitan areas around the country, is tight,” Ramsey said. “They have the jobs that we’re training people for and if they’re not on board and see the product that we’re producing is viable, then the program will fall short of our goals.”
The city’s Workforce Development Department is on the verge of rolling out its marketing plan, which Ramsey acknowledged is vital and remains a major focus compared to previous efforts at addressing labor issues across San Antonio.
“About 550 people have already pre-registered and we are waiting right now to get them connected to our prime agencies – Workforce Solutions Alamo, Alamo Colleges, Projects Quest, and Restore Education to begin enrolling in training programs late spring and early summer,” Ramsey said.“$50,000 a year plus jobs we believe are going to become common practice through the initiative that we’re pushing forward.”
Accountability and measuring success of SA: Ready to Work will be weighed on multiple factors such as program enrollment, completion and job retention.
“We have secured the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Urban Education Institute led by Mike Villareal to help us stay on track with our targeted goals,” Ramsey said.
Restore Education is a local non-profit tasked with helping shape the futures of thousands of people every day through career training, obtaining high school equivalency education, and college support.
The organization has worked alongside the City of San Antonio on aiding men and women directly impacted by the pandemic as part of the city’s Train for Jobs SA program.
Train for Jobs SA has resulted in the training of more than 5,258 people. Of those who completed the program, 1,370 residents have secured employment the medical field proving most popular among trainees.
Since the pandemic, Restore Education has experienced an increase in demand for services. Keeping up with the demand has been satisfied through doubling the amount of staff.
“We’re definitely I believe well prepared for the start of this program,” said Kerri Rhodes, Restore Education co-founder and director of Student Success. “That’s really what’s key is allowing and supporting the members of our community who haven’t had access to this level of education before.”
To learn more about SA: Ready to Work, call 311 or click here.