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San Antonio’s Ready to Work job training program begins taking its 1st applicants

Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg on the first day of Ready to Work's formal launch.

After being approved by voters 18 months ago, Ready To Work is taking its first applications this week. The job training program is expected to place more than 15,000 people in jobs by the time it ends in the late-2020s.

About 800 applications have indicated they will register for the program, which is limited to San Antonio residents only. It’s funded through a 1/8th of a cent sales tax initiative that was overwhelmingly supported by the public. Applicants can begin signing up online, by calling 3-1-1, or visiting either Project Quest, the Alamo Colleges District, Workforce Solutions Alamo or Restore Education.

“I have no doubt that Ready to Work will enhance San Antonio’s workforce, ecosystem, and foster transformation change for the years to come,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “I would consider it a success when a single family is able to change the cycle of poverty and give their children and grandchildren a chance.”

Mike Ramsey, executive director of the city’s Workforce Development Department says it will train people in high demand fields.

“Manufacturing, information technology, healthcare and bio sciences, finance and accounting, those types of industries are what we’re focused on,” he said, adding the approval of the city’s 2022 bond approved by voters this month would also see the need for additional construction jobs.

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When it was pitched to voters, Nirenberg and other city leaders had said it could train up to 40,000 people for the jobs, but that number has been scaled back in recent months.

While the city expects 40,000 to apply, not all will be accepted or finish the training. About 28,000 are expected to enter training for a degree, certificate, or other completion milestone and up to 15,000 will end up in jobs.

“That’s our floor, we’ve got a target to have the number be greatly increased,” Ramsey said.

Ready to Work will spend about $8,600 per student in training, “which is right around national norms,” he added.

Bachelor’s degrees and associate’s degrees are possible with the program, however an applicant for a bachelor's degree must have at least 60 hours of college credit already; those seeking an associates need no previous hours.

At least 180 employers have committed to support Ready to Work through potential hires or input.

The total program cost is north of $229 million with the bulk of it going towards training costs. You can see a breakdown of the funding here.

While created during the pandemic while employment was low, the need of the program has been called into question by some of its advisory committee.

The city had a similar program called Train for Jobs SA which began during the economic downfall of the pandemic. It had a goal of training up to 10,000 people for jobs but about half of that had entered training and 1,600 placed in jobs to date.

Ready to Work’s requirements include: - Being a San Antonio resident

  • At least 18 years of age. 
  • Permitted to work in the U.S.
  • Not currently enrolled in College
  • Household Income may not exceed 250% of the federal poverty guidelines.

The money for Ready to Work is finite in its current roadmap. It’s funded at about $46 million per year using the sales tax money generated until it stops collecting at the end of 2025. The sales tax then shifts to supplement VIA Metropolitan Transit’s funding.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules