Unemployment and Workforce Development in San Antonio, Texas
In early 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas convened local leaders in San Antonio, Texas, to learn about their perspectives on the drivers of unemployment, efforts to address this issue and insights on policies, programs and initiatives that could further reduce unemployment. Roundtable participants were manufacturing companies, the military, financial institutions, other employers, workforce development entities and other community and economic development organizations.
- The Problem
- A Solution
- Graduation Data
Employers, in general, expressed difficulty finding workers that have basic skills in math and reading. They also had difficulty finding workers with soft skills, such as in customer service, attendance and punctuality. Employers in the manufacturing industry expressed difficulty finding workers with sufficient skills for higher-level technical jobs, such as those in machinery, engineering and programming.
Several additional themes emerged from this roundtable. Following are highlights.
Perspectives of San Antonio Leaders
Broken School-to-Work Pipeline
A consistent concern among participants is the broken school-to-workforce pipeline; some participants emphasized the need for industry to be part of the solution. In their opinion, schools are “teaching to the test,” which is not producing students who are workforce-ready. Participants from the manufacturing industry noted the lack of appreciation for the trades as a career path, a cultural issue that reduces the number of people interested in entering their industry. Another participant commented that a problem is that jobs are moving targets, and workforce development money is going towards people filling specific jobs, not learning specific skills. For example, some individuals receive training for a job that no longer exists when they complete their training, so more money is spent retraining the same individual for a different job. Fixing the school-to-workforce pipeline would entail increased communication and coordination between educators, trainers and employers so that there is a constant supply of local workers who are qualified for open jobs.
Employers report having a hard time finding locally based individuals to meet their needs. One employer mentioned that its operations are approximately 30 to 35 percent underutilized. They have an opportunity to take on more work but have trouble finding qualified applicants. Roundtable participants commented that job seekers have poor math and reading skills and poor job-seeking skills, such as knowing where to find jobs, writing resumes, interviewing and completing online applications. One representative from a manufacturing company noted that he cannot find highly skilled people to fill some positions, so his company decided to bring back retirees and interns. Another participant said that small businesses have difficulty finding people who show up on time and are reliable.
Issues Beyond Skills Gaps/Mismatch
One roundtable participant noted that some manufacturing jobs are on a 24-hour operation schedule, and people working in the second and third shifts have difficulty finding childcare. Another participant pointed out that some financial issues stay with an individual even if it is no longer an issue, such as not paying rent or having a bankruptcy or foreclosure. This is important to employers because perceived instability matters to employers’ clients.
Disincentives to work are a major issue faced by workers and job-seekers who rely on public assistance. For example, some turn down their employers’ offer to increase their wages so they are not disqualified from income-tested public benefits. This suggests that the value of the benefits exceeds the value of the incremental wage increase.
A Response to the Broken Pipeline: Expansion of Junior Colleges
According to one of the roundtable participants, junior college enrollment has exploded in part because many young people have not met the admissions standards of four-year universities. These colleges now play an active role in workforce development by expanding their scope to provide day care, English language and computer classes and workforce development trainings, such as in plumbing, film, electrical and welding. Students from all over San Antonio are attending workforce development training at a junior college that has leased an empty elementary school.
- In December 2011, the San Antonio Manufacturers Association (SAMA) conducted research to assess the number of immediate job vacancies and the impact of these vacancies on the manufacturing industry. The report has since been published. Contact SAMA for details: www.sama-tx.org/.
Fixing the School-to-Work Pipeline
Alamo Area Academies is an industry-driven workforce development model that is helping fix the broken school-to-work pipeline. It is a partnership among the following organizations.
The Alamo Area Academies Partnership
- Cities of San Antonio, New Braunfels, Seguin and Floresville
- Alamo Colleges
- All greater San Antonio area school districts, many charter and private schools
- Advanced technology and manufacturing companies
- Aerospace companies
- Health care companies, including local hospitals
- Information technology companies
- Port San Antonio
- San Antonio Manufacturers Association, New Braunfels Manufacturers Association and the Seguin Economic Development Council
- Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce of New Braunfels and Chamber of Commerce of Seguin
- Workforce Solutions Alamo
The Alamo Colleges provide instructors, equipment and facilities; the school districts provide textbooks and roundtrip transportation from students’ high school to the colleges; employers pay the student interns’ salaries; and the cities fund Alamo Area Academies’ staff salaries and operating costs.
How the Program Works
Alamo Area Academies recruits students from all of Bexar County’s independent school districts, charter schools and private high schools to apply for its program, which begins their junior year in high school. If they pass a qualifying test, they sign up for one of the four programs, all of which offer high-wage, high-demand occupations in San Antonio: aerospace, advanced technology and manufacturing, information technology and security, and health care.
During their junior and senior years, students in the program divide their time between classes in their high schools and at an Alamo College. They can remain enrolled as long as they maintain good grades at both schools. The summer between their junior and senior years, they intern full time for eight weeks at a company that is participating in the Alamo Area Academies partnership. By the end of the two-year program, the students will have earned a high school diploma and 31 to 34 college credit hours free of charge—essentially a $6,000 scholarship.
Graduates of this program:
- earn a year of college credit
- gain specific work experience that employers are looking for in new-hires
- develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, careers in high-wage occupations at local companies
- create a network of professional relationships that can provide valuable mentoring and serve as references in their college applications and job searches
- earn approximately $2,500 at their internships
- receive hiring preference at the companies if they were successful at their internships and
- become academically and emotionally prepared for a smooth transition to college and/or the workplace.
Participating employers benefit from the Academies program because they have helped create a continuous pipeline of skilled, college-educated employees who meet their hiring criteria. The San Antonio region also benefits from this program because the partnership has created a continuous pipeline of students trained for careers in high-wage, high-skill growth industries.
The following companies have participated in the Alamo Area Academies program. Some continue to participate, and a majority of participants have tuition reimbursement programs for graduates who they hire after completing the program.
Industry Partners Providing Paid Summer Internships
- 24th Air Force
- Alamo Industrial
- Chism Co.
- CHRISTUS Santa Rosa System
- City of San Antonio
- CMC Steel
- Connolly Memorial Medical Center
- Cox Manufacturing
- CPS Energy
- DPT Laboratories
- Gore Design
- Hexcel Corp.
- Kinetic Concepts
- Lockheed Martin
- Methodist Healthcare System
- Morningside Ministries
- Standard Aero
- Star Manufacturing
- University of Texas Health Science Center
Alamo Area Academies Graduation Data
- 81% male
- 19% female
- 66% Hispanic
- 27% Caucasian
- 5% African American
- 2% Asian
Scholarships and Salaries
- $545,000 in scholarships for class of 2012
- $1.7 million plus in scholarships for graduating classes of 2010, 2011 and 2012
- $34,700: average starting salary and benefits
The table below shows where graduates from each Alamo Area Academies program went post-graduation.
Graduation Placements, 2002–12
Targeted Industry Jobs
Other Jobs/ Moved
Aerospace Academy (started in 2002)
Information Technology & Security Academy (started in 2004)
Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Academy (started in 2005)
Health Professions Academy (started in 2010)
These podcasts illustrate why the Alamo Area Academies program works, challenges it faces and its value to San Antonio employers, students and their families.
Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development
Zaragoza is an Alamo Area Academy board member and one of the original founders of the concept, vision and implementation of the Academy model. He is the key leadership representative of the Alamo Colleges in their support of implementing the Alamo Area Academies model.
- Why the Alamo Area Academies Model Works, Is Sustainable and Important
- Ingredients for a Successful Workforce Development ModeL
- Real and Perceived Challenges to Workforce Development
- Workforce Development Policy Recommendations
Executive Director of Academic Support Programs
Advanced Academics and Career and Technology
San Antonio Independent School District
Rosales is an Alamo Area Academies board member and one of the original founders of the concept, vision and implementation of the Academy model. She is the subject matter expert on the public secondary schools’ policies and procedures to successfully participate in the Academies model.
Alamo Area Academies
Gene Bowman was named executive director of the Alamo Academies in February 2006. Before coming to this position, he served for 28 years in the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a colonel from Lackland Air Force Base as the inspector general. He had a diverse career during his Air Force tenure, from being a T-37 instructor pilot at Randolph Air Force Base, leading a cadet squadron at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, being a staff officer at the Pentagon and directing a division at Pacific Headquarters at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and earned his master’s in management from Webster’s University in St. Louis, Mo.
- Genesis of the Alamo Area Academies Program
- Recruiting Students
- Impact of the Program on Students and Their Families
- Legislators’ Role in Schools’ Prioritizing Workforce Development
Partner, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP.
Chair-elect, Alamo Area Academies Inc. Board
Perschbach will be the spokesman for implementing and achieving the Academies board strategic vision and mission.
- Stigma of Manufacturing Jobs
- Why It’s Important to Address the Stigma
- Recommendations on How to Get Rid of the Stigma
- Putting This Conversation in a Larger Context: Global Competitiveness
Hear the perspectives of ITM, Lockheed Martin, Toyota and the U.S. Air Force.
- Overview from Employers
- Feeding the Pipeline of a Qualified Workforce
- Successes and Challenges
- Experience with Interns and Opportunities Employers Give Them
- General Feedback About the Program
- Feedback from Families of Low- and Moderate-Income Students
- What they're learning
- Opportunity is unusual for their age/Recognizing opportunity
- Comparing their experiences to those of friends who aren't in this program
- Experience with employers and co-workers/Mentoring
- Contacts they have made
- College readiness
- How far and fast students have progressed
- Plans for the future/outlook on the future
- Great experience
- Favorite things
- Parents' feedback
- Applying for an Alamo Area Academies Program
- Coordinators' Responsibilities
- Successes of the Program
- Student Attrition
- Positive Feedback About Alamo Area Academies
Assistant Manager, Human Resources
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas Inc. (TMMTX)
Garcia has worked for TMMTX for seven years and is currently assigned to Human Resources. Previously he was the assistant manager of the TPS/Kaizen group responsible for continuous improvement activities and other developmental programs. Garcia supports Alamo Academy interns throughout their summer-long experience at TMMTX to include intern rotational assignments and weekly feedback activities.
Director, Government Relations and External Affairs Department
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas Inc. (TMMTX)
As the director of the Government Relations and External Affairs Department at TMMTX, Lozova oversees media relations, government relations, philanthropy, community relations and the visitor and education center. He also supports community outreach, education committees and advisory boards that are in line with Toyota's community engagement strategies. Lozova is a member of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Education & Workforce Council and Aerospace Committee and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee and Education Committee. Collectively, his efforts focus on creating a talented workforce pipeline for the betterment of San Antonio's economic development.
Vice President, Operations
Innovation, Technology, Machinery (ITM)
Dewey is vice president of Operations at ITM, a manufacturing firm that develops high-tech production systems and equipment for other manufacturers. He is also the former chairman and a current board member of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association and serves as a leading manufacturing industry advocate and spokesperson for economic development and workforce issues.
Community and Government Relations Lead
Lockheed Martin Kelly Aviation Center
Wilson is the community and government relations lead at Lockheed Martin Kelly Aviation Center in San Antonio. He was the original industry partner who helped create the Alamo Area Aerospace Academy, the first of the four academies that now include the Information, Technology and Security Academy, the Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Academy and the Health Professions Academy. Wilson serves on the board of directors for the Alamo Area Academies Inc. and the San Antonio Manufacturing Association. He also chairs the Aerospace Committee of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
Director, Plans and Programs
67 Network Warfare Wing Lackland Air Force Base
Martin is the director of Plans and Programs at the 67th Network Warfare Wing. His responsibilities include managing and coordinating all Wing unfunded requirements and program objective memorandum (POM) initiatives; performing as the information conduit on issues being considered by the Wing corporate process; serving as the focal point for the development and implementation of the 67 NWW Strategic Plan; managing program action directives (PAD) and programming plans (PPlan); directing stand-up actions; managing Wing mission stand-up, transfer and deactivations; facilitating and coordinating issues to support command actions; and overseeing support agreements.
Chief, Intrusion Forensic Operations
Organization: 33d Network Warfare Squadron, United States Air Force
Stauffer is the chief of the Air Force's computer forensics and malware analysis lab located at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. His primary responsibilities are overseeing all network-intrusion-related hard drive analysis, malware analysis and reverse engineering and reporting to higher authorities. Since 2008, he has had an active role in the 67 Network Warfare Wing's internship program to include mentoring both high school and college students. Prior to federal service, Stauffer was employed with the California Secretary of State's office performing the nation's first computer security evaluations on electronic voting systems.