• Written by David Bader

    President of Bank of America Austin

The labor market across the country has changed significantly since 2020, leaving employers struggling to fill roles and retain employees as businesses compete for talent. A new Texas Workforce Commission report out this month found the unemployment rate in Austin is the lowest it has been since the coronavirus pandemic began, sitting at 2.5%.

There’s no doubt that Austin is booming. More and more major companies are moving here, shifting the needs and makeup of our workforce. With that shift, we’ve seen housing demand and home values rise exponentially - more than 25% - over the past year. As our city continues to grow and companies announce plans to relocate or open businesses in Austin, we must ensure that we’re building a highly skilled workforce and strong local talent pool from which they can hire. This is one of the keys to mitigating the rising cost of living and stopping longtime residents from being pushed out of our city and left behind.

Our city and leading organizations are working hard to address these issues. Our team recently had the pleasure of attending the City of Austin and Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s announcement of the Hire Local plan, which will give 1,000 scholarships towards workforce education in targeted areas, including health care, manufacturing, information technology and skilled trades industries.

Connecting people to meaningful employment requires deep public/private partnerships and collective expertise to prepare individuals for jobs that exist in our communities. Our team at Bank of America is committed to doing our part to help prepare individuals to be successful in the workforce and fuel economic opportunity.

That's why we're partnering with other employers and local organizations to help people attain the education and develop the skills they need to be successful in the high-demand careers of today and the future. Our efforts across the country include a $25 million investment in 21 higher education institutions, including Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and community colleges. Bank of America also works with the Aspen Institute to convene best practices and ensure educational tracks align with the needs of employers while incenting and preparing students for successful careers.

Locally, the bank has partnered with Huston-Tillotson, St. Edward’s University and The University of Texas to break down barriers to higher education, fuel entrepreneurship and create more opportunities for communities of color. Combining these efforts with an increased commitment to hiring local talent by major employers will mean more opportunities for more members of our Central Texas community.

Bank of America Austin executives with St. Edward’s University Leadership
Top Row (from left): Joe DeMedeiros, Vice President Advancement; Jason DeLaRosa, Director Career & Pre-Professional Program; David Bader, Austin Market President, Bank of America
Bottom Row (from left): Louise Single, Interim Dean of The Bill Munday School of Business; Carla Molina, SVP, External Communications & Austin Market Executive, Bank of America; Sonia Briseno, Director of CAMP; Jessica Wilson, Director Foundation Relations.

In my role as Austin President at Bank of America, I have the privilege of deepening our focus on workforce development in the local community through philanthropic partnerships and support of city initiatives, all with a focus on connecting young people and underserved groups to the education, resources and experiences they need to succeed. I also do not lose sight of the important role small businesses play in maintaining Austin’s essence and authenticity, which is why – on top of the work our small business team does – we support entrepreneurship through funding of Huston-Tillotson’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) Entrepreneurship Training Program, the Bank of America Diverse Scholars enrolled at McCombs School of Business Forty Acres Founders Program at the Herb Kelleher Center for Entrepreneurship, and partnerships with non-profit community development financial institutions (CDFIs) such as PeopleFund here in Austin.

In the past year, the bank has invested more than $2 million in our local community to advance economic opportunity and address the most pressing issues facing our city, including funding education and workforce development. That included providing first generation and low-income students from underrepresented backgrounds as well as College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) scholars at St. Edward’s University with professional mentoring and career guidance, in addition to funding support. Our funding has also supported E3 Alliance’s Credential to Career Initiative, Capital IDEA’s registered nurse training program for low-income, nontraditional students in Hays County, and Goodwill Industries of Central Texas’ Phlebotomy program through the Goodwill Career and Technical Academy.

Bank of America CAMP Scholars/2022 Graduates

Support of early employment programs is an additional important component to building Austin’s workforce of the future. Early employment can set a young person on a trajectory for success, providing them with a paycheck, increased confidence, and a stepping-stone for improving academic performance. That’s why Bank of America has a long history of investing in youth development, including our Financial Center Apprenticeship program for students from the Austin Area Urban League, our Student Leaders® program, which provides three local high school students nonprofit experience at Communities in Schools of Central Texas this summer, and our support of the City of Austin’s Emerging Leaders Summer Internship Program (ELSIP), which gives 72 high school students an opportunity to gain leadership skills and work experience this summer through a paid internship in a career field that matches their interests. All of these students will also receive financial education through our free Better Money Habits platform, which will connect them to relevant information and tools that will help them begin to take action towards defining and achieving their financial goals.

Bank of America’s Student Leaders program recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the U.S. annually. The Austin-based Student Leaders® are photographed with Bank of America executives and team members from Communities in Schools of Central Texas.

Investing deeply in our local workforce strengthens the resiliency of our local economy and is the kind of work that truly changes lives. We challenge businesses across Central Texas to look at their hiring practices, training and development programs, and investments in the community through the lens of a long-term investment that will ultimately pay great dividends for all Austinites. Together, we can help build a stronger pipeline of diverse talent and fuel local economic growth.

Related Categories: Membership, Education and Talent