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‘Too big to fail’: San Antonio’s fledgling job training program under scrutiny

Summary:
By Joshua Fechter of The San Antonio Express News. Excerpts:"As San Antonio’s job training program lags and officials try to suss out the details of its next phase, a key backer worries the initiative is in trouble. COPS/Metro, a grassroots advocacy group, aggressively lobbied city leaders to create an emergency program to help some of the thousands of people thrown out of work amid the pandemic get the skills they needed to land higher-paying jobs. The group’s leaders later threw their weight behind Mayor Ron Nirenberg when he asked voters in November to use sales tax dollars to create an expanded program.But months after the idea proved victorious at the polls, members of COPS/Metro have grown increasingly disillusioned with how the city’s

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By Joshua Fechter of The San Antonio Express News. Excerpts:

"As San Antonio’s job training program lags and officials try to suss out the details of its next phase, a key backer worries the initiative is in trouble.

COPS/Metro, a grassroots advocacy group, aggressively lobbied city leaders to create an emergency program to help some of the thousands of people thrown out of work amid the pandemic get the skills they needed to land higher-paying jobs.

The group’s leaders later threw their weight behind Mayor Ron Nirenberg when he asked voters in November to use sales tax dollars to create an expanded program.

But months after the idea proved victorious at the polls, members of COPS/Metro have grown increasingly disillusioned with how the city’s job training efforts have played out. They feel city officials have all but ignored their concerns. The group’s leaders are disappointed in the meager number of participants who have obtained training certificates and landed jobs through the emergency program — dubbed Train for Jobs SA.

Nine months after the $75 million initiative began, 214 people have been placed into jobs.

And COPS/Metro leaders worry the city hasn’t done enough to prepare for the next stage of its training efforts — Ready to Work, the $200 million program backed by a sales tax that will also help residents enroll in college degree programs. Already, the program’s rollout has been pushed back a month from September to October.

City officials drawing up Ready to Work have done so at a breakneck pace, COPS/Metro leaders argue, and focused too much on figuring out bureaucratic procedures rather than what jobs participants will train for — points that officials contest."

"When Train for Jobs began last September, officials said the program would help 10,000 people in some fashion, even if they didn’t complete their training and land jobs."

"The person overseeing the city’s current job training program is Heber Lefgren, who leads the city’s Animal Care Services department."

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