Austin looks to mid-level jobs to help get people out of poverty

City of Austin and Travis County launch plan to bring 10,000 people out of poverty and into better paying jobs (KXAN Photo)
City of Austin and Travis County launch plan to bring 10,000 people out of poverty and into better paying jobs (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ten thousand people in Austin will be taken out of poverty and into better paying jobs, according to a plan by Mayor Steve Adler and Travis County. The goal is to help address the city’s affordability problem.

“We have an affordability issue in the city. There are two ways you deal with that, use subsidies to make things less expensive, but equally if not more important is you help people earn more income,” Adler says. “The goal today is to take 10,000 people out of poverty and move them into middle-income jobs, middle-skilled jobs over the next five years.” Currently, 14.5 percent of Austin’s population lives at or below the poverty line—which amounts to more than 100,000 people.

The mayor outlines the following goals:

  • Building awareness of the job opportunities in high-demand, middle-skill careers among young adults and lower-income families.
  • Expanding, enhancing and realigning training programs to produce the number of qualified candidates — the plan targets 12,000 — needed by industry to fill emerging middle-skill jobs.
  • Placing economically disadvantaged residents — the plan targets 8,000 — in available middle-skill jobs.
  • Up-skilling existing front-line workers, so that they can advance to middle-skill jobs.

Companies like Dynamic Manufacturing Solutions are excited about the new collaborations. They’re already recruiting talent for their company from Austin Community College.

“Manufacturing is the solution to that problem, so the jobs that we are hiring for today, they’re high paid jobs, they’re not low-paying jobs.” Rob Misso, president and CEO of DMS says.

“If we don’t have the labor, then the jobs are going to go somewhere else, so I think it’s critical that we keep the jobs here,” Misso said.

His company is currently looking for electricians and welders like Veronica Lemus. “I tack and weld the parts that they need, we’ll use turn tables and things like that,” Lemus says.

Lemus is a single mother and is excited about the new opportunities coming up. “Living comfortably sounds really awesome, I would like to purchase some land to get a home [for my son],” Lemus said.

“Having us grow people from within, it creates an opportunity; it creates help with in the workforce and the staff within our company,” Misso said.

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