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Consultants: Skilled labor a challenge for Bastrop employers

The city of Bastrop has a workforce problem.

That’s the primary takeaway from a study released last week commissioned by the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation.

After a series of focus groups and online surveys distributed to the region’s small business owners, large employers, nonprofits, government officials and real estate developers, the economic development consulting firm Garner Economics found two major complaints about Bastrop: lack of skilled labor and little job training programs or schools.

“There was consistency in what we heard, by far,” Jay Garner told the Bastrop City Council and BEDC board last week. According to him, 100% of employers who responded to the survey said they have a difficult time finding skilled labor.

“Lack of worker availability ... and getting people through a community college or technical school, goes hand in glove.”

Although the Art Institute of Austin recently announced its plans to relocate its Round Rock campus to Bastrop, its curriculum is limited. And though some area high schools offer dual credit courses through Austin Community College, “more needs to be done to grow the technical trades, which is really depleted in this area,” Garner said.

The consultants delivered two recommendations to the city to improve its workforce.

First, Garner said, the city and BEDC should sell local voters on the merits of attracting a new technical college, specifically Texas State Technical College, a community college with 10 existing campuses around the state.

“By not having a technical or community college offering curriculum choices for the occupations that both your existing and targeted business sectors need, Bastrop will be left behind its competitors on a regional and national level,” Garner said.

Read the full article at Statesman.com.