AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin area has invested a lot of time, money and resources into Tesla’s new gigafactory in Travis County.
Travis County commissioners approved billions of dollars in tax rebates, and the Del Valle Independent School District approved tax breaks for the company. Those moves are projected to save the company an additional $50 million over 10 years.
But along with financial incentives, the community has also invested time and resources for workforce training and development.
DVISD, for example, is working on a Pathway in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program of which Tesla is the anchor partner along with Austin Community College.
The program has four and five-year pathways for students, which will include engineering classes some students are already taking as part of robotics. It’s expected to launch in the fall and will prepare students for jobs for many companies in the industry.
Del Valle High School junior Jacob Blanco is one of those on the robotics team — which is headed to the UIL state championship.
“We’re rocking it with it, you know, it’s our rookie year, we already made it to state,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to taking part in the P-TECH program next year.
“I hope to be a part of it,” he said. “It’d be awesome to get an internship or even a job with Tesla. I really like automotive.”
DVISD has also started Tesla job fairs, where students have resume-building workshops with the company and interviews for positions.
Last year, the district said around 46 graduating seniors signed on with Tesla — either as part of ACC’s Tesla START Manufacturing Program or as interns.
This year, a Tesla job fair is scheduled for April 21.
“Tesla’s going to have a resume-building opportunity for those students, and then at the end of the month, they’ll host interviews on-site here,” said DVISD spokesperson Christopher Weddle.
All the opportunities make Blanco even more excited about his future.
“They are giving us a chance, not just people who have experience, they want people to learn and to grow with them,” he said. “It’s pretty cool that they’re picking people out of our community to do that.”
ACC said a third class is in session for its Tesla START pipeline program. All the students selected for the training program are first hired by Tesla, with a cap of 12 people in each class, said ACC spokesperson Sydney Pruitt.
Cohorts are held based on when Tesla asks ACC to get a class ready and scheduled, she said.
“ACC works to remain flexible to the requests and needs of Tesla to begin the training programs,” Pruitt wrote to KXAN.
Training takes 14 weeks and ACC students work 8 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday during the training.
Texas Workforce Commission awarded ACC a $1.88 million grant to help Tesla find “the thousands of skilled workers it needs” for the new gigafactory, a spokesperson said.
Workforce Solutions Capital Area has also partnered with Tesla for hiring.
Over a two-month period, ending Jan. 26, 2022, the group said they connected Tesla to more than 160 applicants. As of the same timeframe, nearly half were being considered and the group estimates up to 20 applicants had already been hired.
The agency said people who want entry-level positions for assembly work and manufacturing equipment operation can get a leg up by working with Workforce Solutions.
“Even if applicants need more training to become qualified, Workforce Solutions has programs like the Certified Production Technician training and can also connect them to others, like the Tesla START program at Austin Community College,” the agency said in an email to KXAN.
Tesla’s grand opening party for their new Travis County facility is scheduled for Thursday. It is an invite-only event.
Del Valle ISD said they received a limited number of tickets for their school board and staff members. The district also announced early dismissal times to help families and bus drivers avoid traffic.