AUSTIN (KXAN) — Major manufacturing companies are planting roots in Central Texas, bringing a need for more skilled workers.

A nonprofit called Skillpoint Alliance is working to fill the employment gaps. Skillpoint Alliance offers plumbing, electrical, HVAC and Certified Production Technician programs.

The organization graduated a dozen students on Friday. A fourth of them were women, which is the highest number of women students in the organization’s history.

Jasmine Lee is one of the three women to join the Central Texas manufacturing force — an intimidating task at first.

“I feel like this is a step in that can show women, ‘Hey, if I can do it, then you can, too. Don’t be afraid,'” Lee said.

Students like Lee walk away as a certified production technician, a skill set hard to come by for employers.

“There’s a lot of competition to get these few skilled workers that are out there into the workforce,” said Justin Frost, a Skillpoint instructor.

The Texas Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area estimated there are over 3,500 manufacturing jobs available in Austin alone, so students are getting scooped up quickly.

Skillpoint Alliance graduates (KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)
Skillpoint Alliance graduates (KXAN/Kaitlyn Karmout)

Joel Dawson, is the Senior VP of Human Resources for Global Resale, which focuses on repairing and refurbishing computer systems. It’s on the lookout for qualified employees, he said, especially as recent chip shortages and supply chain issues have significantly increased the demand.

“It’s a competitive landscape, so we have to be creative,” Dawson added.

Dawson scouted for new employees at Skillpoint’s graduation Friday in hopes of snagging employees like Lee. She said she already has her eyes set on Samsung but said wherever she lands, she plans to add her own touch.

“I’m a girly girl. I want to show them, “Hey, we’re not just making things for cars. We’re making things that look nice,” Lee said.

Skillpoint Alliance is a nonprofit funded through grants and partnerships, so its six-week long courses are free for students. The next manufacturing class starts Jan. 31.