San Antonians unemployed due to COVID-19 pandemic rush to apply for city-funded training program

So far, 700 people deemed eligible

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio is pouring $75 million into the COVID-19 Workforce Recovery Program as part of its Recovery & Resiliency plan. The recovery program aims to help up to 10,000 city residents by September 2021 by connecting them with jobs.

Alex Lopez, director of the city’s Economic Development Department, says it’s important for residents to pivot because many of the jobs available back in March are not coming back.

“This is our approach to helping our residents get back into the workforce,” she said.

About $5 million are coming from the CARES Act Funding. The rest is from the city’s general fund. People can start in fields involving technology, bioscience, health care, and other available jobs. Some training is also available in Spanish, Lopez said.

“The scale and the need is high. And so we’re really trying to match that level with the, you know, the tuition, the stipends, the wraparound support,” Lopez said. “All the things that we’ve done -- we know our residents will need to be successful.”

Adrian Lopez, CEO of Workforce Solutions Alamo, says the interest in the city’s program has been overwhelming because the need is great. About 280,000 people have filed for unemployment in the 13 counties the agency serves, and about 80% of those are in Bexar County, he said.

Workforce Solutions Alamo is getting a $16 million grant from the city to connect those eligible for the program with jobs now.

Bexar County is also running a similar program called Access Career Training & New Opportunities for Work, or ACT NOW. Workforce Solutions Alamo is one of the county’s partners and has received a $14 million grant.

Adrian Lopez said there has been a lot of interest in these training programs. So far, about 1,400 people have connected and applied. Between the city and county, about 700 people have been deemed eligible.

Training starts toward the end of the month. Adrian Lopez said jobs already available include welding, working in child development, forklift operators, and even jobs in law offices and insurance companies.

“Sometimes the barrier for reemployment is a lack of experience because it’s somebody who’s been working in one particular industry and is interested in a new industry, but they don’t have any experience,” Adrian Lopez said.

Many of the positions available now have training on the job. Adrian Lopez said people should not be afraid to step out of their comfort zone because they likely already have what it takes to get the job -- a good attitude.

Training through the program could last a few days to several weeks, depending on the type of industry.

The increased interest for the program has tied up the Workforce phone lines, but Adrian Lopez said they have invested $100,000 into a new automated system that should be up and running in a couple of days. The new system will make the process a lot quicker and easier.

Adrian Lopez also said Workforce plans to hold pop-up events at churches and community events to help more people access these programs.

Other city partners include Alamo Colleges, Project Quest and other workforce development agencies.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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