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Developing Skilled Workforce Takes Center Stage At State Of The County Address

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Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff delivers the 2017 State of the County Address at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. October 23, 2017

The need for workforce development is the top priority  Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff as he delivered the State of the County Address Monday. The annual speech comes on heels of the city and county’s decision to not chase an Amazon bid.

Much like presidents and the State of the Union, the San Antonio mayor and county judge give state addresses to pinpoint progress. Judge Nelson Wolff highlighted that 13 new companies – several from India, Japan and German have chosen Bexar County to open offices. Those companies include HULU and TJMaxx.

“Just these [13] companies combined [are bringing] 3000 jobs and a $250,000 investment.”

In dropping the bid for Amazon, Wolff said other cities were offering too much in tax incentives and that risking San Antonio’s tax dollars wasn’t worth it.

“You don’t have to give those big companies a hand out – they ought to go in a corner and beg somewhere else. If you’ve got the skilled workers they will come to you. I don’t know if we’ve got what we need right now so we’ve got to continue to build that,” he says.

A skilled workforce is what Wolff says the county needs to work on. Some of that help will need to come from the county’s suburban cities and private companies.

“So we’re going to ask you –all of you in the private to step up and double the number of internships, apprenticeships, job shadowing days, industry certificates, and dual credit programs.

Wolff presented an outline of what companies can do to help:

  • Support programs whereby high school students can earn dual credits while finishing high school as well as industry certificates.
  • Help fund Southwest Independent High School’s Advance Manufacturing Center. Toyota earlier announced a $1.5 million grant for this program
  • Create high school PAID internships in your company-
  • Establish a job shadow day
  • Invest in upgrading your employee skills.
  • Support the CAST high school in SAISD School district and Southwest high school.
  • Create apprenticeships for young people- pay them much like German companies that assist trainees toward high paying jobs.
  • Work with local school districts to create more career and skill training classes.
  • Working on plan for a military transition center to prepare outgoing service personal to enter our work force.

Wolff says the county also needs to focus on more comprehensive public transit, and making top tier research institutions out of universities. He adds the county is also willing to help on improving passenger air service in cooperation with Mayor Ron Nirenberg.