President POV

Evolved Skills for Economic Mobility
by Jenna Saucedo-Herrera

Jobs are always top of mind. A strong workforce is a regional differentiator—competitive jobs are a company’s strength and quality work can change lives for generations. All over the world, labor is experiencing a dramatic shift. As San Antonio continues to set the pace for smart population growth, we have to make sure our workforce not only keeps up but evolves with industry demand.

The latest reports show our region’s labor market is tight with a 2.6% unemployment rate reported in May. Our region is not alone. Most large U.S. cities have been hovering in the 2% – 4% range for the greater part of the past year. To stay ahead of the curve, we have to embrace a commitment to lifelong learning and building upon the transferable and marketable skills that differentiate San Antonio. We are a community that gets things done. It’s a trait deeply rooted in our diverse culture, influenced by a majority Latino population and military heritage. San Antonians are ready to work and take on the challenges to better our collective future.

Recognizing that work ethic, companies choose to invest in jobs that lead to greater economic mobility. When TJX began its search in San Antonio, SAEDF was ready to support. While not target industry, the project posed a transformational opportunity with significant capital investment and more than 1,000 new jobs paying approximately 20% above the median pay for a historically underserved area of the community. In San Antonio, more than half of the population does not have an associates or bachelor’s degree. This is changing through efforts like Alamo Promise, transitional jobs like these are foundational for the community’s future prosperity. Companies like TJX that invest in their people are strengthening San Antonio’s workforce for generations to come.

While transitional jobs are bridging the gap, more “hybrid skills” are needed by industry to evolve as technology advances. High demand job qualifications that are traditionally associated with a single industry are starting to appear across sectors. For example, the CompTIA Security+ certification is an industry-recognized tech certification traditionally required exclusively in that industry. In our most recent SA Works Jobs Report, we saw this qualification appear as a top qualification in both the tech and manufacturing occupations. Armed with this input, we continue to challenge our education partners to provide more training to meet skills demand across industries.

At SAEDF, our priorities of continuous improvement and maximizing resources led us to pilot a new role to best serve our business customers. Through a hybrid business and workforce development role, SAEDF is now better positioned to attract and retain quality employers by understanding and supporting the full scope of what it takes to be successful in the region.

Our 1.2 million-strong workforce will continue to grow, but how we prepare to meet the evolving needs of industry is how San Antonio will continue to differentiate itself and thrive.