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Port San Antonio, the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology, Workforce Solutions Alamo, Alamo Colleges District, Project QUEST and SA Works are creating a new tech training center to fill the need for job training as people find themselves out of work during the pandemic.
On Friday, Judge Nelson Wolff joined other local leaders for a press conference at Port San Antonio to announce the first cohort of trainees in the new free program.
"There’s a very specific pathway-- do this, this, this-- and by the way right now the government will pay for it and you’ll be ready for a new job and be a healthy, participating person in the economy," said SAMSAT President and CEO Doug King. SAMSAT has already been orchestral in educating and inspiring kids and teens to prepare for the STEM workforce, but now is expanding with a focus on people out of work during the pandemic. Still, he hopes this effort will have a generational impact.
"Their kids, cousins, brothers and sisters see this and cement that pipeline," King said. "So we’re saying to the community, particularly the under-served community- there’s a real opportunity here."
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Port San Antonio CEO and President Jim Perschbach says although the pandemic has had a devastating impact on much of the economy, many businesses at the port are actually expanding.
"We’re very fortunate in that so many of the industries we house here at Port San Antonio are not only weathering it, they’re growing," Perschbach said. "When you look at what’s gonna happen with the world going forward, it’s these connected solutions- automation, robotics, protected infrastructure and aviation assets, military intelligence operations- they’re all growing."
District 4 Councilwoman Adriana Rocha Garcia says about 15 percent of Port San Antonio's current employees reside in her district, and she hopes more will use this program and then apply for those jobs.
"We know right now there’s hundreds of jobs at Port San Antonio, currently available," Rocha Garcia said. "These could be cyber-security, they could be IT, this could be advanced manufacturing, robotics."
She says the location is also optimal for current times.
"Port SA has a lot of space," Rocha Garcia said. "Right now a lot of people are worried about coexisting in the COVID environment and post COVID will be a different story. I think what this does is leverage Port San Antonio’s properties."
Partners say trainees do not need to have a specific level of experience to enter most of the trainings, and will be given the skills they need to succeed.
'It doesn’t matter your skillset or education level," said Workforce Solutions Alamo CEO Adrian Lopez. "We have resources to connect people with high school diploma or GED, but some of the jobs don’t even require that- just getting short term certification."
"For some of the targeted industries we support, whether that be IT, manufacturing, construction, the good news is there’s a lot of jobs still out there," Lopez said. "The last thing we want people to do is select or self-deselect."
Perschbach is optimistic about the future- at Port San Antonio and across the city as a whole. He believes programs such as the tech training center will reshape a workforce that will attract even more employers.
"In terms of economic development, that’s one of the most important things today," Perschbach said. "To be able to go to an employer and say, we have a community who can train people come in and do the work for you today – that’s exciting. It’s not just about incentives or location, you can get that anywhere in the world- but as we move into this new economy, more focused on human intelligence, that human factor- making sure you have a workforce that can do that, will separate the winners from semi-winners and also-rans in that space."