The Austin Chamber of Commerce is expanding its support for students heading toward direct-to-employment pathways after high school with its summer Learn to Earn event series.
In partnership with Austin Community College, Temple College, Texas State Technical College, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area, and Community Action, the Austin Chamber aims to increase enrollment in short-term credential programs which prepare students for in-demand jobs in Central Texas.
There will be four Learn to Earn series events hosted between July 12 and July 19 across the region. The events are available both online and in-person.
Since 2013, the Austin Chamber has supported an annual initiative to decrease the impact of summer melt—the trend of recent high school graduates who have been admitted to college who ultimately do not enroll due to unforeseen barriers they encounter over the summer. This annual collaboration between the Austin Chamber and the Austin, Round Rock, Hutto, Leander, and Pflugerville school districts extends counselor support over the summer. It utilizes the Chamber-funded OneLogos College Ready portal to target enrollment assistance to students via text message on key registration, orientation, financial aid, housing deadlines, and college readiness.
“Having multiple pathways to a career is essential to having a robust economy,” said Laura Huffman, President and CEO of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses in our region have an immediate need for skilled workers in a variety of fields. High School graduates could learn these skills in as little as a few months and be on their way to an incredibly rewarding career.”
In the end, around 61 percent of graduating high school seniors enroll in college, but a significant percentage, 23 percent, do not enroll in a post-secondary program.
Of those who forgo college after graduating high school, only 60 percent find employment. While wage outcomes have increased significantly for recent grads, 76 percent of direct-to-employment recent grads still earn less than 15 dollars per hour.
In Central Texas, recent high school graduates are in a great position to boost their earning potential – and with a much smaller up-front investment than a traditional four-year academic program.
”The timing for recent high school graduates to get ahead could not be better,” said Hector Aguilar, Dean of Continuing Education at Austin Community College. “We have quick training programs that lead to jobs in high demand here in our area and even funders willing to pay for their tuition if they are eligible.”
Using lessons learned and methods from its Summer Melt initiative to support college intending graduates, the Chamber aims to connect employment-intending students with career certification programs via public information sessions. These programs range from as short as a few weeks to as long as a whole year and offer students the opportunity to become certified to work in an array of jobs from IT, health care, manufacturing, and skilled trades.
Moreover, these are high-paying, in-demand jobs employers need to fill – computer and mathematical, healthcare practitioners and technical, installation, maintenance, and repair, and healthcare support rank among the top occupational groups for which employers posted job openings in May 2022.