City of Dallas launches initiative to hire more skilled workforce

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson has launched an initiative aimed at helping the city get a more skilled workforce to compete with its suburban neighbors. 

Part of the program will pay for people to receive job training that will help them land higher-paying jobs. 

The new program called Workforce Dallas is partnering with non-profits to help connect workers with free job training. 

The non-profits will help people find childcare and transportation. They are the typical barriers that stand between people from finding a better job.

Xavier Henderson is the co-founder of the non-profit ‘For Oak Cliff,’ which is now the launching pad for the city’s new job training pilot program. 

"Very hopeful," he said. "I believe there is a lot of desire for training and expand career opportunities."

In a heavily produced promotional video, the city featured two moms considered the ideal candidates for what’s called upskilling. One is a custodian with a teenage daughter, and the other is an hourly wage medical technician. 

Johnson appointed Lynn McBee to the volunteer role of workforce czar. She is heading up the Workforce Dallas initiative.

One goal is to help Dallas better compete with its suburban neighbors which are attracting new employers at a faster rate. 

"Our region looks good. Lots of growth industry in the suburbs. But when you looked at Dallas, the growth wasn't there," McBee said. "We looked at our workforce and found 40% of Dallasites are the working poor, and we looked at the zip codes where they live."

Many of the working poor live in South Oak Cliff.

It’s why the city is launching the program at For Oak Cliff first. Now, Workforce Dallas will bring the training to specific high-need Dallas neighborhoods focused on four key industries. 

"Transportation logistics, healthcare, IT and construction trades," McBee said.

Workforce Dallas is being funded entirely through philanthropy and the companies themselves. 

"Most industries have said they want to be a part because they need workers," McBee said.

Even though the city is initially launching this program in South Oak Cliff, the city wants to connect anyone that is a resident of Dallas with job training opportunities while also helping connect people to transportation and childcare.