U.S. Secretary of Labor praises San Antonio's new job-training initiative on visit

The city plans to train 28,000 residents by the end of 2025 as part of the Ready to Work program.

click to enlarge U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg press the flesh during an event promoting the Alamo City's new job training program. - Michael Karlis
Michael Karlis
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg press the flesh during an event promoting the Alamo City's new job training program.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh praised San Antonio's new job-training program during a stop here to promote the Biden Administration's Good Jobs initiative.

The former mayor of Boston joined Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Congressman Joaquin Castro and local business leaders to discuss the Alamo City's $200 million Ready to Work program, which trains low-income residents for better-paying jobs.

Passed by 76% of voters in November 2020, Ready To Work was intended to train 28,000 working-class residents by December 2025. It's funded by a ⅛ cent sales tax increase.

"We need to be more intentional about investing in workforce development, and we need to be doing it with cities," Walsh said after touring St. Philip's College's technical manufacturing and aerospace training facilities. "Because cities know how to get it done. And programs like Ready to Work should be replicated around the country."

San Antonio's latest training initiative is the successor Train for Jobs SA, a $65 million program launched with the intent of helping 10,000 residents land high-paying jobs. Of 17,000 people who inquired about the initiative, only 1,836 completed the program and landed better-paying work, according to city data.

So far, 5,400 people have applied for Ready to Work, which formally launched in May. Even so, less than a quarter of those applicants have been interviewed, and even fewer have been assigned case managers to assess their strengths, according to a KENS 5 report.

Although the Department of Labor awarded nearly $3 million to San Antonio under the Apprenticeship Building America grant program, Nirenberg said there's still work to be done.

"I would not categorize this as a congratulations," Nirenberg said. "What I see happening here is a community coming together to support the program to make sure it's successful. Failure is not an option, because what we're talking about is real here. The reason why voters came out is because we believe in each other, and we want better for our community."

Ready to Work is currently accepting applications. Those interested must be at least 18 years old, be eligible to work in the U.S. and earn less than $34,000 annually.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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