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As Austin attracts large companies, the city makes a push to boost local workers over outside talent

(Tesla)

The city of Austin is digging into a plan to help residents fill numerous positions with 1,000 scholarships for those trying to climb up in their careers.


Khalyl Woodson is a recipient of the scholarship that’s part of the “hire local” plan the city is teaming up with Workforce Solutions on.

A Pflugerville High School graduate, he talked about how outreach from Workforce Solutions has now allowed him to help support his mother, who has multiple sclerosis.

“She's a hard worker and all that, but I try to help as much as I can,” Woodson told Austonia. “So my thinking was, what can I do to get a flow of income and so I can help my mother.”

He says he’s now working his way up as a Galen College of Nursing student.


The scholarship is hoping to attract people like Woodson who are looking for a career in healthcare, but also in other industries like manufacturing, information technology and skilled trades.

City and county leaders are feeling pressure to make Austin more livable for current and longtime residents while many are facing concerns of being priced out. Contributing to this effect are jobs requiring training or schooling that can be out of reach for some.

"If we don't build a bridge from where you are to where you want to be, we miss a real opportunity to build community," County Commissioner Jeff Travillion said.

The push to get Austinites on the radar of companies is urgent. Mayor Steve Adler said 50,000 new jobs were posted in April this year and that despite the booming economy, local businesses are scrambling to fill positions that exist.

“If we don't have the talent that they need, they're gonna bring in that talent,” Adler said. “And we don't want people from around the rest of the country to come in and fill in the talent pipeline for us as much as we would like people who already live here to be able to do that.”

On the other side, some like Tesla have made an effort to recruit talent in the Austin metro. The automaker recently interviewed seniors at Bastrop Independent School District to train and attend classes at Austin Community College.

A form to express interest in the scholarship can be found on the Workforce Solutions site. People who might qualify include those who live in Austin or Travis County and are unemployed, work part-time, classify as low-income, or don’t have a high school diploma.

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