Building a Skilled Workforce
The Bexar County Economic and Community Development Department (BCECD) is committed to providing experiential learning opportunities and building the workforce of the future. We partner with many organization and businesses locally to do this. The community began expanding its focus on our main industries’ middle skills gaps in 2015, after co-hosting a Workforce Summit with the City of San Antonio.
Since then, we have created and implemented of industry-led SA Works, now part of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, leading to further alignment of economic and workforce development; creation and implementation of industry-led Texas Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (TX FAME) to solve skills gaps in the manufacturing industry; and increased collaboration of community partners with economic and workforce development agencies to help industry solve workforce issues.
On May 2018, we co-hosted a follow-up Workforce Summit with the City of San Antonio and SA Works to highlight these initiatives and also hosted the 5th annual National FAME Conference.
By meeting with local manufacturers, we identified a significant skills deficit of people who can troubleshoot, maintain, and manage robotic and automated systems (robot technicians) at plants. With this input, we formed the Texas Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (TXFAME).
TX FAME is an industry-led organization based on a successful model out of Kentucky. The board members are seasoned professionals from leading companies in the manufacturing field. Together, they work to address shared skills deficits, recruits and trains individuals to fill the pipeline. Companies involved to date are Toyota Texas, CPS Energy, H-E-B, Precision Group, Caterpillar, Joyson Safety Systems, and Toyotetsu Texas.
The companies sponsor students through a two-year associate’s degree program, where students spend two days a week in the classroom and three days a week as paid interns with their sponsor company. Students are paid a livable wage while they are learning and gaining real-world experience.
For more information on TX FAME, please visit: TX Fame
Piloting New Initiatives
With these TXFAME companies, Bexar County worked to expand an existing training program at St. Philip’s College Southwest Campus called, the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) Program, which focuses in robotic and automated systems.
While the AMT program helps our industry partners solve their robot technician deficit in the mid-term, we led a pilot program in partnership with Brooks Development Authority to assess individuals from various backgrounds in their aptitude for mechanical skills.
Participants in the pilot program included individuals who have previously been through the judicial system, including probation and pre-trial diversion programs (PDF). Industry partners also worked to identify existing incumbent workers eligible for assessment. With lessons learned from the pilot program, we are working with TXFAME to expand and scale this short-term training solutions.
For more information on BCECD Workforce Development initiatives, please contact Pooja Tripathi at 210-335-0892 or Email Pooja Tripathi.