Austin looking to hire people affected by COVID-19, conserve community

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new City of Austin program aims to provide jobs for those financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) program is teaming up with community partners including the nonprofit American YouthWorks.

“It’s a great opportunity for young people to get to work in the outdoors and get job skills and really help the community,” Parc Smith, the nonprofit’s CEO said.

American YouthWorks is one of the first nonprofit organizations to partner with the city’s program through its Texas Conservation Corps. They will hire and train people for jobs that will help preserve and restore the city’s parks. Program leaders say there will be an opportunity for people to gain certifications that could help them “advance into environmental careers.”

Other program jobs the city is working on include “landscape preservation and tree care, wildfire mitigation, green building and solar installation and public art installation.” Program leaders say training is not necessarily required to apply and some jobs provide training.

“I really like to think of this as fourfold,” Alison Alter, the council member who sponsored the resolution behind this initiative said. “It’s giving them jobs, giving them training, conservation and serving as a pipeline for the city.”

Alter said she was inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program following the Great Depression.

“One of the last times where we had this kind of experience of such high unemployment coming so suddenly was back in the Great Depression and I’ve always been a fan of FDR and the creativity that followed in the New Deal is a really important inspiration for thinking about how we respond today,” she explained.

For those interested in applying, program jobs pay a minimum of $15 per hour and vary on how long they can last.

“The time commitment varies from project to project. The first project I believe is a 6-to-9-month opportunity through American YouthWorks working on the parks and the green spaces,” Alter said. “Other opportunities like the creative ones may be a shorter-term just because of the nature of the work.”

At present, people can apply for jobs with American Youthworks Parks and Public Lands Improvement. The jobs will last for eight months and pay anywhere from $15.00 to $18.00 per hour. They are in need of two crew leaders and have other openings for crew members. The American YouthWorks jobs are only for people between the ages of 18 to 35, but Alter believes there could be other opportunities for all people over the age of 18.

“We had 16 job openings but some have been filled,” Smith said. “They’re closing fast so we would love to have people sign up right away.”

Program leaders are also looking to partner with local business owners who are interested in offering jobs and training through ACCC.

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