Job training programs help get Austin workforce ready for Tesla

Travis County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The manufacturing job sector is growing rapidly here in Austin, thanks to Tesla.

CEO Elon Musk announced Thursday the company’s headquarters would be relocating to Austin, which is driving a demand for more job training.

Just this month, the electric car brand posted hundreds of new jobs in the Austin area, with the vast majority being for its new gigafactory in Del Valle. It owns more than 2,000 acres there, but the company hasn’t said if the same land will be the home of its headquarters.

Central Texans are already taking advantage of free, hands-on training in manufacturing, as well as HVAC, electrical and plumbing.

Skillpoint Alliance in north Austin is offering a six-week “certified production technician” program. It says some graduates are getting offers from Tesla before even completing the course.

“Applications have definitely been pouring in. Right now, I have a lot of great candidates that are looking to enter into the upcoming program,” said Admissions Manager for Skillpoint Regina Wiley. “Once we get through the interview process, we should have some good candidates for Tesla.”

Leaders are praising Tesla’s move to Austin as an economic win for the community, but some groups worry employees outside the tech world won’t be able to keep up.

President of the Texas AFL-CIO Rick Levy says when the city and county lure jobs here using public funds, they need to make sure wages are high enough, so everyone can afford the area.

“We have to really renew our focus on affordable housing, but we also have to renew our focus on making sure that people are able to earn the kind of wages they need to survive in this town,” he said.

Housing prices are already spiking around the Del Valle factory. Data from real estate brokerage Redfin shows in the factory’s zip code, 78725, the median home sale price is up 44.7% over last year.

Musk did mention one of the main reasons for the company’s move to Texas is the cost of housing in California.

Tesla itself is working to build a pipeline of workers using the Tesla Start program. Those who join the program should have an interest in the automotive or manufacturing field.

There are 12 students per instructor, and classes are eight hours per day on weekdays. The whole course is 12 to 14 weeks long.

The manufacturing sector of Tesla Start can be completed through Austin Community College. Automotive skills can be obtained by heading north to Texas State Technical College in Waco.

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