Commissioner Lesley Briones voted to approve the Apprenticeship Advantage Initiative because the program has the potential to strengthen the regional workforce and help keep Harris County a global competitor.
When the initiative was one of three apprenticeship programs across the U.S. to be highlighted in the White House’s “Playbook: Workforce Investments That Work” recently, she was proud of its progress.
“I voted to invest $9.1 million in ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funding because I understand the importance of investing in our future. This historic investment is the largest in Harris County’s history and will double the apprenticeship capacity in the region,” Commissioner Briones said.
The Apprenticeship Advantage Initiative aims to connect more than 1,000 low-income and underrepresented residents with high-paying apprenticeships in construction, public transportation, and live-entertainment industries. In addition to training, high wages, and access to jobs, the program also provides tuition assistance and behavioral healthcare.
The Initiative was created in partnership with the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO) and NPower, an organization that focuses on building digital skills. It will expand the capacity of eight trade apprenticeships and creates two more – one in low-emission vehicle repair and another in sports, arts, and entertainment. Additionally, pre-apprenticeship programs will continue utilize funding to enroll high school students identified by guidance counselors.
The White House playbook was released in late September and stated, “These workforce investments are succeeding, giving workers—including women, workers of color, rural workers, and other underserved workers—access to good jobs, including union jobs, in infrastructure, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing, many of which do not require a four-year college degree.”
Nearly 90% of apprentices who complete a registered apprenticeship gain employment, with an average annual starting salary of $80,000.
“This partnership will develop a skilled workforce and expand opportunities for people across Harris County, including women and underserved communities,” Commissioner Briones said. “It is critical to ensure that historically underserved communities have equitable access to workforce development. This Initiative will empower workers who want to learn a trade, will strengthen our economy, and will help keep our region a global leader.”