Team Spotlight: Workforce Development

An asset that sets the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation apart from other regional development organizations is its focus and direct oversight of strategic workforce development in the region it serves. SA Works, SAEDF’s workforce development team, is an industry-led strategic workforce development program aligning education providers with private sector demand to promote economic mobility.

The Workforce Development team serves to strategically align employer demand with how San Antonio prepares its workforce today, upskills those currently in the workforce, and better recruits and retains top talent for the San Antonio region. Incubated in the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce by H-E-B, SA Works transitioned to SAEDF and has become an integral piece of the organization’s overall economic development strategy, strengthening San Antonio’s competitive assets in workforce development, the number 1 consideration for companies looking to expand operations anywhere in the U.S.

Leading the team is Romanita Matta-Barrera as Executive Director of SA Works. Romanita joined SAEDF in 2016 to lead the integration of SA Works into SAEDF. Prior to SAEDF, Romanita served as president and CEO of Fluent Strategy Group working on strategic initiatives, federal funding, public policy and multicultural marketing and advocacy with clients such as H-E-B, AARP and the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide, AVANCE National, SER National and Zero-to-Three.

“While communities across the U.S. are grappling with how to address preparing its workforce of the future, San Antonio’s ability to collaborate and bring education and industry together is proving to be a winning combination,” said Matta-Barrera. “It’s about building a strategy for San Antonio to address today’s workforce needs while preparing for the needs of companies 20 years down the road.”

Supporting the workforce development team, as Senior Director of Workforce Management, Sean Attwood works to analyze the needs of San Antonio’s current and future employers, identifying the critical skills and necessary talent required to build a strong workforce pipeline for San Antonio across target industries. Saani Fong, School-to-Career Director, recently assumed this new role within SA Works to lead SAEDF’s work-based learning programs, including Job Shadow Day and Summer Internships – programs critical to increasing youth awareness of career pathways in target industries. Program Coordinator and Executive Assistant Ruth Trevino supports the entire team in managing projects and communications between organizations.

The SA Works team will soon launch its second jobs report, detailing the current status of San Antonio’s labor market and hiring trends in three key demand industries, tech, manufacturing and healthcare. The goal of the report is to identify the potential demand occupations that San Antonio educators and employers should be better preparing for before the skills gap increases further.