Meanwhile, Back at the Salt Mines

While Austin Community College is bearing most of the local workforce development burden, other community groups and agencies are also shouldering their share of the load. The following directory can be found in its official form on the city's Austin City Connection website at http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/health/hlysdir5.htm. (It's in the "Youth Services Directory," although not all of these programs are limited to serving young adults.)

  • Austin Independent School District (453-6638) provides "training; job placement; physical examination; counseling; continued evaluation and referrals to other agencies in the community." The district has begun a number of "school-to-work" initiatives, in keeping with state and federal emphasis on career development in K-12 schools, and has for years included vocational training as a key part of special-education programs (notably at AISD's Clifton Center). The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce's Northeast Area Council is partnered with AISD in school-to-work projects at Reagan, Crockett and Travis High Schools. For more on school-to-work at AISD, check out the district's comprehensive plan online at http://www.austin.isd.tenet.edu/complan/school_wk.html.
  • American Institute for Learning (472-3395) "provides basic and remedial education and pre-vocation employment to at-risk youth." The Institute, which comprises the old Creative Rapid Learning Center, is online at http://www.ail.org.
  • ARCIL, Inc. (467-0744), the federally funded Austin Resource Center for Independent Living, "provides community resource and employment services for persons 18 years of age and older who are physically or mentally disabled." It's on-line on the Texas Workforce Commission's "hi-TEC" server -- http://hi-tec.twc.state.tx.us/general/arcil.htm
  • Austin Area Urban League (478-7176) "provides job training and placement services, on-the-job training, job search assistance, occupational skills training (computers), and job readiness/life workshop for youth." In their own words, "We train disadvantaged members of our community in strategies and techniques to change the status quo." The Urban League is online with the Metropolitan Austin Interactive Network (MAIN) at http://www.main.org/services/aaul.htm.
  • Austin-Travis County Private Industry Council (440-7816) offers "assistance in the job search and on-the-job training." More importantly, PIC provides substantial grant funding for workforce training programs at other agencies and administers Job Training Partnership Act funding for local employers. (Businesses hiring and training JTPA-qualified applicants are eligible for reimbursement of part of those new hires' initial wages.)
  • SER Jobs for Progress (480-8651) offers both summer employment and training programs for youth and educational programs for all ages. The organization, originally a joint project of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Austin GI Forum, largely fulfills the same workforce role for Austin's Hispanic community as the Urban League does for the African-American community -- while SER is an acronym for "Service, Employment, and Recruitment," it is also the Spanish verb "to be." Check it out online at http://www.serjobs.org.
  • The Texas Workforce Commission (478-8734) -- still called the Texas Employment Commission by nearly everyone -- provides job search and place-ment services (including the well-known Governor's Job Bank) as well as vocational training for adults age 16-24 through the Job Corps. Their "hi-TEC" server is at http://hi-tec.twc.state.tx.us.
  • Oddly, missing from the city's directory of workforce development services is the city's own workforce development center, the DeWitty Job Training and Employment Center (472-5718), located on Rosewood Avenue a few blocks from ACC's planned Central East Austin Campus. This may speak for itself -- DeWitty, a pet project of former councilmember Charles Urdy, has been ineffective, if not completely invisible, in helping meet the job-training needs of its East Austin neighbors, and the advent of the much-discussed, ACC-administered One-Stop Career Shop might spell the end of this particular enterprise.
  • And two interesting community-based projects: The Austin Women's Cooperative (no phone) seeks to provide low-income women on or coming off public assistance with services and skills that supplement basic job training -- from time management and personal development to assembling a professional working wardrobe.
  • El Concilio (477-4013), the alliance of Mexican-American neighborhoods built by Paul Hernandez, sponsors an academic summer fellowship with Yale University in which graduating high schoolers learn job skills -- and get paid -- while preparing for higher education. Both organizations are online on the MAIN server, http://www.main.org. -- M.C.M.

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