AUSTIN, Texas —
You may be able to get free training for a better job.
Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) already offers training to a variety of people, including special accommodations for veterans, single parents and youth.
Commissioners challenged the TWC employees and regional development boards to make it available to all unemployed Texans.
State lawmakers boosted TWC’s budget last session by more than $47 million. The money would go to get more people in “high-demand” jobs by August 2021.
The Legislative Budget Board records show TWC asked for more money to “provide equipment to approximately 17 additional ISDs and 12 additional institutions and train approximately 6,537 participants in high-demand occupations in the biennium,” and also to “increase grant funds to public community and technical colleges to provide on-the-job training with supervision and classroom instruction.”
“The funding will allow TWC to stay at or near the goal of paying $4 per contact hour to apprenticeship training programs and train 1,035 apprentices in the biennium,” the records show.
These goals were set before the COVID-19 pandemic. TWC commissioners moved millions of dollars from various programs to support job training. Federal CARES Act money also provided additional relief.
“The training programs so far are related to things very specific to COVID in most cases,” said Courtney Arbour, director for TWC Workforce Development Division, in a recent commission hearing.
Arbour said 3,802 people will be trained by July for COVID-related jobs, including those in the food service, telehealth, logistics and information technology.
“We're really able to meet some specific, often COVID-related needs for an employer and help curb some costs for them,” said Arbour.
Money earmarked for layoff-aversion has helped 1,360 people keep their job.
“More than $3.7 million has been granted to support 103,000 people who will receive different workforce services either through online platforms or learning management systems. And what [it] looks like is that the platforms might train customers in job readiness skills. These are the classes about resume writing, interviewing skills, using new technologies. A lot of people haven't interviewed in a long time. In this new world, they need to know more about this stuff that they're going to be interfacing with,” said Arbour.
As part of federal regulations, TWC has trained 5,000 people under the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity” plan.
Many of the TWC programs have specific criteria for applicants to qualify. Commissioners want to expand it.
“Bring us a plan for an alternative funding program where we might provide training opportunities for all Texans who are on unemployment during this time,” said TWC Commissioner Representing the Public Bryan Daniel.
A new plan will be presented by mid-June.
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