AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new collaboration between CapMetro and Workforce Solutions Capital Area will help develop more than 1,000 local jobs as the transit authority revs up its Project Connect mass transit program.

On Monday, the CapMetro Board of Directors approved the launch of the Transit Workforce Partnership Work Plan, with a total cost capped at $366,000. The board didn’t hold any discussion on the item prior to the vote, but CapMetro’s finance committee previously recommended approval on the item at its Oct. 12 meeting.

The partnership is contracted for a three-year period, with a projected launch date in November. As part of the collaboration, WFSCA will work alongside its education and business partners to identify possible candidates from its talent pools and fulfill CapMetro’s workforce needs.

Under the Transit Workforce Partnership Work Plan, WFSCA will help map out in-demand positions and skillsets relevant to CapMetro’s workforce and help attract candidates in operations and management roles, per backup documents.

Some key partners in WFSCA’s collaborative pipeline include the Central Texas Healthcare Partnership, Central Texas Manufacturing Partnership and the Capital Area Technology Workforce Coalition. Others include Austin Community College, local truck driving schools, labor union trades, school districts and community organizations.

During the first year of the program, CapMetro will spend $164,000 to hire a WFSCA staff member strictly dedicated to building out CapMetro’s Project Connect employment network. Some of that $164,000 in funds will help support industry sector research and other administrative expenses.

Key employment areas CapMetro is looking to fulfill include:

  • 300-400 new MetroBus positions
  • 80-100 new Regional Rail jobs
  • 500+ new light rail jobs
  • 75+ new facilities positions
  • 100-150 new MetroAccess & Pickup jobs

While Project Connect’s program buildout accounts for many employment needs, the transit authority has also identified between 700 and 1,000 frontline jobs it’ll need to fill each year to keep up with system operations.

“In-demand roles in transportation include bus operators, dispatchers, fleet management, power source maintenance and positions within operations, customer service, infrastructure management, and more,” Tamara Atkinson, WFSCA’s CEO, said in an email to KXAN.

The Bureua of Labor Statistics reported the Austin metro is one of the top regions in the country for job growth since the pandemic, with 54,000 unfilled job postings in the area as of September.

“Major job growth and low unemployment adds to the challenge of finding candidates to fill numerous new roles, but Workforce Solutions Capital Area is responding to this growth strategically for both the job seekers’ and employers’ benefits,” Atkinson added.

Currently, CapMetro officials said they have enough operators and mechanics to maintain current services, but are looking to hire over 100 operators as the two new MetroRapid lines launch.