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Eckhardt lauds focus on middle-skill jobs

Wednesday, October 2, 2019 by Jack Craver

The Travis County Commissioners Court warmly received a presentation on the progress of a work development program that the city and county partnered to support in 2017. The program, which is run by nonprofit Workforce Solutions, aims to get people in poverty (at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level) into “middle-skill” jobs. The commissioners were delighted to hear Workforce Solutions CEO Tamara Atkinson tout the figures that the Austin Monitor reported last week, even if the 517 people the program claims it has moved out of poverty still leaves a lot of work to get to the goal of 10,000 by 2021. Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said it was important to provide pathways to well-paying jobs that don’t require sitting in a classroom. “There’s sort of a snootiness factor, in going back to school. There’s a significant cohort of our Travis County neighbors for whom going back to school is a bridge too far. But going to American YouthWorks is not. Going to the IBEW and getting into an apprentice program to become an electrician is not. This is a familiar place for them, a sense of belonging and community that makes it possible to get that kind of training without sitting in a classroom that has become a symbol of otherness.”

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