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Taxpayers and local employers have come together to launch a program to help thousands of people in San Antonio improve their quality of life and achieve professional success.

Ready to Work is a training and education program that offers participants an equitable, customized approach to acquire the skills needed to secure high-paying jobs by offering support services to overcome financial, mental and social challenges and to earn trade certifications, associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

To date, Ready to Work has enrolled 1,850 San Antonians as participants and is partnering with hundreds of local employers that have pledged their support for the program.

According to Workforce Development Office Executive Director Mike Ramsey, the wholehearted support from the San Antonio business and education communities has been a key component in successfully launching the Ready to Work program.

“To date, we have had 300 San Antonio employers take the Ready to Work Pledge,” Ramsey said. “These pledged employers support the program in a variety of ways, including participating in Ready to Work Employer Roundtables on pressing workplace issues and quarterly industry sector meetings; hosting job fairs and other hiring events; and conducting mock interview sessions with our participants.

“They also work to ensure our curricula and training programs are developed to best meet the workforce needs of local employers across a wide range of industries. In addition, many of them have committed to hiring our graduates when they complete their training.”

Ready to Work’s pledged employers represents all sectors of the San Antonio economy, including construction, electrical, HVAC, healthcare, education, finance, insurance, energy, food and beverage, hospitality, tourism, manufacturing and transportation.

One of Ready to Work’s pledged employers that is deeply committed to the program is the San Antonio Independent School District. SAISD’s Adult and Community Education department works with Project Quest, a local well-established jobs skills training program, to locate, test and refer adults into the Ready to Work program.

In the program’s first year, SAISD referred 216 adults to Project Quest for assistance in Ready to Work enrollment. Additionally, going forward, the program will enable SAISD to hire qualified participants in a number of high-demand positions within the district, including teachers, accountants, IT personnel, instructional assistants, HVAC and electricians, bus drivers, custodians, administrative assistants, food service employees and more.

“In SAISD, about 90% of our students and their families meet the state’s definition of economically disadvantaged,” said SAISD Assistant Superintendent of College, Career and Military Readiness Johnny Vahalik. “The Ready to Work program is serving our students, families and community by helping to create college and career pathways for getting out of poverty.”

“Ready to Work aligns with our SAISD “Always Learning” plan as it focuses on providing access for our students and their families to living-wage career opportunities to create a financially secure future for themselves,” Vahalik continued. “Our priority is improving life outcomes for our students and their families. We are focused on creating a system in which the whole family is thriving.”

Vahalik has some advice for San Antonians who may be considering making a positive change in their life. “If you want to make a positive change in yourself or in the world, Ready to Work is the program that can make this possible,” he said. “Ready to Work is truly transformational.”

The support and involvement by the San Antonio business and education communities is a critical component of Ready to Work’s ability to align our community’s education and training programs with the current and future workforce needs of area companies.

If you are interested in learning more about the Ready to Work program and its opportunities for participants and for employers, call 3-1-1 or visit ReadytoWorkSA.com.

Jennifer Cantu is a San Antonio market manager and senior vice president of Enterprise Business and Community Engagement for Bank of America.