Local officials and transportation entities announced Aug. 17 the next steps for a Central Texas workforce plan aimed at getting thousands of locals into the infrastructure jobs pipeline that's expected to flourish over the coming years.

The overview

The new workforce collaborative is led by elected and business leaders, who say a focus on building up the region's mobility and construction workforce is needed as several multibillion dollar mobility initiatives are set to take off throughout the Austin area.

The Texas Department of Transportation’s widening of I-35 through Austin, the rollout of the Project Connect light rail transit system in the city and the expansion of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport are a few of the projects highlighted by partnership representatives.

“We’re working to change the city’s economic development paradigm to be relentlessly and unapologetically focused on ensuring home-grown talent can fill the thousands of good jobs being created in our community,” Austin Mayor Kirk Watson said in a statement.

Members of the Mobility and Infrastructure Leadership Group include Watson, Travis County Judge Andy Brown, other city and county officials, local labor and education leaders, and construction industry representatives. Capital Metro, the Austin Transit Partnership and the jobs group Workforce Solutions Capital Area are supporting the initiative.
Greg Canally, executive director of Austin Transit Partnership, left; Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, center; and Tamara Atkinson, chief executive officer of Workforce Solutions Capital Area announced the Workforce Mobility Industry Sector Partnership in March. (Courtesy Workforce Solutions Capital Area)
From left, Greg Canally, executive director of Austin Transit Partnership, Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, and Tamara Atkinson, CEO of Workforce Solutions Capital Area, announced the Workforce Mobility Industry Sector Partnership in March. (Courtesy Workforce Solutions Capital Area)
The new partnership will determine what local industry needs are, consider how to scale up workforce efforts and lay out an action plan for continuing job connections. Watson added that the collaboration is also aimed at providing workers with resources, such as skills training and child care.

“With the unprecedented infrastructure investment we are seeing, it is crucial for those with legislative influence to be thinking of and planning for creative solutions to address Austin’s affordability challenges with new means of economic development,” Workforce Solutions President and CEO Tamara Atkinson said.

What’s next

In a news release, the leadership group said one of its first projects will be the creation of a 20-year forecast of the Central Texas region’s workforce in mobility and related industries. That project, covering topics such as worker preparedness and the area's capacity for job training, will be taken on by Austin-based consulting firm CivicSol.

“Our region’s past and future growth is dependent upon those who live and work here. Through this comprehensive study, we can better understand the people who make up our workforce and how we can support them to reap opportunities to develop their careers and build generational wealth in the mobility and infrastructure industry," said Laura Huffman, CivicSol's founder and CEO and the former head of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

Following the group’s first meeting in early August, members will work with CivicSol, CapMetro, the ATP and Workforce Solutions to present some initial findings later this fall.

“Travis County is looking at a unique opportunity to build sustainable career pathways that will engage diverse candidates and allow people who live here to thrive here,” Brown said in a statement. “Growth in our region presents a challenge, but we’re looking at investments in transportation with a 20-year lens to help us prioritize an affordable and equitable community for everyone.”