The San Antonio Report will hold its final event in the three-part 2021 San Antonio Regional Education Forum Virtual Series on Wednesday, with a discussion on how the city of San Antonio and higher education entities can collaborate to develop a skilled workforce.

Editor Robert Rivard will moderate “The Future of Higher Education and Workforce Development,” a panel discussion that starts at noon. The 75-minute program will be live-streamed on the San Antonio Report’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

City and higher education leaders will discuss a soon-to-launch city and higher education collaborative. The four-year initiative aims to provide the education and training needed to elevate workers into higher skill and wage jobs in health care, advanced manufacturing, and cybersecurity.

“San Antonio is on the cusp of launching the biggest and most important workforce development and jobs training program in the city’s history,” Rivard said. “There are a lot of moving parts, tens of millions of dollars to be invested, and a major collaborative involving the city, our public institutions of higher education, and local economic and workforce development entities. Our job Wednesday is to make sense of it all.”

Panelists include Lynn Barnes, Senior Vice Provost of Strategic Enrollment at the University of Texas at San Antonio; Mike Flores, Alamo Colleges District chancellor; Alejandra “Alex” Lopez, San Antonio assistant city manager; Romanita Matta-Barrera, SA Works Executive Director; and Cynthia Teniente-Matson, Texas A&M University-San Antonio president.

Local college officials also will talk about how they plan to use federal coronavirus relief funds to support students based on lessons learned during the pandemic.

“Over the course of the last 17 months, the Alamo Colleges has expanded our wraparound support services for students to include our advocacy centers, drive-thru food pantries, and a new health clinic in partnership with UT Health at San Antonio,” Flores said. “Utilizing federal funds provided for institutional support, we plan to provide additional supports aimed at retaining current students, bringing back disconnected students, and enhancing instructional delivery.”

In the fall, Alamo Colleges plans to offer new programs to support students impacted by COVID-19, including a new Earn & Learn program to place students in paid employment, payoff of eligible student balances, additional high-challenge course support, and expanded advocacy center staffing to assist students, Flores said.

“Our focus at Texas A&M University-San Antonio has and always will be about creating opportunities for our students that will put them on a path to success,” Teniente-Matson said. “The pandemic has highlighted just how important that work is and now we must continue to be innovative in our programming, partnerships, and providing access to each and every person who seeks advancement through higher education.

“As workforce development remains a critical need, I’m looking forward to discussing initiatives we are implementing to create life-changing resources for our students and the broader community.”

The San Antonio Report’s next event on Aug. 31 is the 2021 Medical Forum Virtual Series: The San Antonio Partnership for Precision Therapeutics: A Billion-Dollar Research Collaborative. The research collaborative focuses on creating breakthrough treatments tailored to specific patient populations, while serving as a model to improve health care in San Antonio, statewide, and globally. The hour-long event begins at noon.

Brooke Crum

Brooke Crum is the San Antonio Report's education reporter.