AUSTIN, Texas — Laura Castillo Macedo made one of the toughest decisions in her life when she left Honduras to come to the U.S.
“[Honduras] is a beautiful country, but sometimes you just can’t have good opportunities there,” Castillo Macedo said.
She lived many years in Alaska.
“I am a [U.S.] citizen now. I love this country. This is my country now,” Castillo Macedo said.
She worked in Alaska as a certified nurse assistant. When she moved to Texas a few months ago, the certification didn’t transfer. So, she went to a nearby Workforce Solutions Office.
“There's a lot of different routes they can take,” Paul Fletcher, CEO, Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area said.
Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area is a Workforce Development Board for the State of Texas.
“We've worked with a lot of customers that are maybe single parents. They don't have the luxury of going to a two-year or four-year college. They need to do something quickly,” Fletcher said.
More than two million Texans are out of work and local boards like Fletcher’s get anywhere between $6 million and $282 million to help unemployed and under-trained.
In response to the unemployment surge earlier this year, the Texas Workforce Commission moved $10 million into a skills development fund.
The state spent $1.7 million for everyone to have access to Metrix Learning. It has more than 5,000 courses.
“The intent was to make as many resources as we could available to the most people,” said Courtney Arbour, director of Texas Workforce Commission’s Workforce Development Division.
The state also spent federal dollars to reach a broad audience. Nearly a half-million federal dollars went to a math assistance call center, and state contracts show two call centers set up to guide claimants through registering for work and training.
“We've emailed every claimant in Texas letting them know that we've made this available to them at no cost,” Arbour said.
“If you come in today, we could usually get you connected to employment immediately,” said Fletcher. “But it's probably not the job you want to do for the rest of your life."
“These resources are so helpful,” Castillo Macedo said.
Castillo Macedo got temporary work under disaster recovery. She also takes free online classes. Her goal is to use her skills she’s learning now to get a different job in healthcare.
“I know that they can continue helping me,” Castillo Macedo said.
Besides coursework, you can get apprenticeships through these local boards and find contacts for labor unions. Find your local board at twc.texas.gov.
Read more at KVUE.