Tesla expands hiring in Austin: Here are local programs to help get your foot in the door

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As Tesla ramps up hiring, local programs are also trying to meet the need. The automaker posted hundreds of new jobs in Austin last week.

Ed Latson, executive director of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association (ARMA), says they expect that number to climb with the new year. Production is expected to begin in 2022.

“I don’t think this is the major wave anybody expected, I really think we’re going to see that growth happen more around January or February,” Latson said.

Henry Windsor is one of the thousands of applicants for those jobs.

“I’ve always known I was going to be a mechanical engineer,” said the mechanical engineering major at the University of Texas at Austin.

The senior is now on the brink of realizing a childhood dream.

“I wasn’t playing with my toys, I was taking them apart and putting them back together,” he said.

Windsor graduates in May and says he’s applied to about five jobs at Tesla. He says it fits his educational background, and it’s near home — he’s a native Austinite.

“I’m really interested in automotive jobs when I graduate in Austin, and Tesla is the number one name for that right now with their new gigafactory that they’re building,” he said.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area says it’s seen nearly three times as many applicants as there have been postings for Tesla jobs.

“We’ve set up a portal, a job application… portal, just to support Tesla and their hiring needs,” said CEO Tamara Atkinson.

She says the nonprofit is expanding its partnership with Tesla this week, launching a portal that connects jobseekers directly with the company.

“We will help individuals understand the kind of interview questions and kind of background candidates that Tesla is looking for, and then we will help those applicants get connected to a private portal, to be able to apply for Tesla jobs,” Atkinson said.

She also says when jobseekers register with Workforce Solutions, they can get texts when an opening they are qualified for in the industry becomes available, including positions at Tesla.

Atkinson says if applicants need more training to become qualified, the agency has some programs and can also connect them to others, like the Tesla START program at Austin Community College.

Students in the 14-week program are chosen by Tesla and are paid employees while they learn skills to become eligible to work there full time.

High school pipeline

ACC also partners with ARMA on another program that offers a pipeline for high school students into the manufacturing industry, called IMPACT Academy.

“Helps train high school juniors and seniors to get the skills they need to get these jobs at semiconductors, or at Tesla, or any really advanced manufacturing operation,” said Latson.

He says they launched last year and have seen enrollment in the program double this year. He expects it to triple next year. The first class of high school seniors in the program will graduate this spring.

High school students in the Del Valle Independent School District will also have a pipeline to possible jobs at Tesla’s new gigafactory. Del Valle ISD is working on an academic and mentor program for its students.

Program Coordinator Alex Torrez told KXAN they hope to start recruiting students in November for the next school year.

“We have had several coordination meeting(s), but the real work will begin when the gigafactory gets up and running,” he wrote to KXAN.

Meanwhile, many, like Windsor, are searching for a job now. He says he’s still waiting to hear from Tesla and may accept another offer he’s received from a company in Portland.

“It’s nice to know a company wants you, and so, it’s kind of been a driving factor for me in maybe not focusing so much on Tesla,” he said.

Windsor wants to get right to work in the field of his father and grandfather as soon as he graduates.

“It’s in my bloodline, for sure,” said Windsor.

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