Voter-approved jobs program brings new hope after Train for Jobs SA delivers lackluster results

Marketing campaign will work to attract more applicants for program

SAN ANTONIO – The City of San Antonio’s Train for Jobs SA program has struggled to meet its promised results, but there’s hope for a voter-approved program set to begin in the spring.

The program that started in the middle of a pandemic designed to help those impacted by job loss received a lot of interest leading up to September 2020.

The City of San Antonio reports more than 17,000 people inquired about the program. More than 10,000 were deemed eligible participants, and 4,836 entered into training.

As of January 18, 2022, 1,157 were looking for jobs, and 1,049 had found new jobs through their training.

The city had touted during its inception that the $65 million program would help up to 10,000 people with job training.

District 9 Councilman John Courage said he is disappointed the program didn’t meet the expectations but understood it wasn’t for lack of effort.

“The goal of that first program was to try and help people get some immediate reskilling or retraining so that they could find a job in 2020-2021,” he said. “I think more people found their own way back into the workforce than we anticipated.”

Courage is optimistic the next phase of the city’s effort to strengthen the workforce will deliver better results.

The SA Ready to Work program will kick off in the spring this year, following a final plan approval by the city council, which might happen in February.

SA Ready to Work is a $200 million voter-approved program.

“It’s really geared towards helping us train people for the future, is going to be a game-changer for the city of San Antonio,” Courage said.

Mike Ramsey, director of the Workforce Development Program, said about $4.7 million of the $65 million allotted for the program were unspent and will go back to the city.

Ramsey said a marketing campaign would help inform the public about the SA Ready to Work program. This was something that was not available for Train for Jobs SA.

“We want to get as many people as possible assistance. That’s our goal. You know, it’s hard to predict in the very beginnings of a program how many people are going to take advantage,” Ramsey said.

This time around, he says the employers will have a say in helping to gear the type of training that will fill the jobs they have available, led by an advisory board.

“They’re looking at which training programs are approved for the work program on a quarterly basis so that we can have the flexibility to adjust and shift with the market as we see industries begin to grow and expand,” Ramsey said. ‘... We want to make sure that we are steering participants through our case management agencies into those programs.”

He said the community has to see this as a long-term investment that will yield results in the years to come, not right away.

People interested can pre-register for SA Ready to Work by calling 311.

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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.