San Antonio Launches Pay It Forward, an On-the-Job Training Program to Support Workers and Local Businesses
The internship program, designed by the city’s Workforce Development Office and Social Finance, aims to address critical labor shortages.
San Antonio—Today, the City of San Antonio’s Workforce Development Office (WDO) and the national nonprofit Social Finance announced the launch of an innovative internship pilot program that aims to help local businesses hire San Antonians for priority, full-time roles.
The internship program, called Pay It Forward, builds on the WDO’s $200 million Ready to Work initiative, which launched in 2022 and seeks to place approximately 15,600 people into quality jobs across priority industries.
After completing an approved Ready to Work training program or degree, participants who join Pay It Forward are placed in six-week internships with local employers. WDO covers interns’ wages during this working interview period. At the end of the program, if participants are hired full-time, employers repay the WDO for their internship salary. Those funds are “paid forward” to extend the program to additional participants.
“Workforce development partnerships such as this are key,” said Mike Ramsey, executive director of the City of San Antonio’s Workforce Development Office. “We don’t work in silos. We work in collaboration with various partners, employers, training providers and others who bring Ready to Work to life. This is a shining example of what can be done when opportunity meets preparation.”
Labor demand in San Antonio is high (the city had over 20,000 job openings posted in September). This talent shortage is particularly acute for businesses in industries such as finance, health care, IT, sales, and skilled trades. At the same time, many San Antonians are looking for better job opportunities, as private sector wages lag well behind state and national averages.
Pay It Forward helps residents develop in-demand skills and move directly into roles that local employers urgently need filled.
“Recruiting, hiring, and retaining top energy industry talent is key to providing reliable service within our communities,” said Michael Clemons, Managing Principal of Strategic Talent and Executive Acquisition at CPS Energy. “Our team is excited to collaborate with the WDO to find local San Antonio talent with the skills and ambition needed to serve our customers.”
“Having a very diverse member base, we understand the importance of building a diverse talent pipeline in the communities where we live and work. San Antonio is home for USAA” said Tamla Oates-Forney, Chief Human Resources Officer at USAA. “In addition to amplifying the hiring of veterans and military spouses, we are looking at emerging pathways to supporting the upskill/reskill of the IT workforce by adding experiential learning through Ready to Work.”
“This program introduces a more sustainable approach to funding workforce development,” Jake Segal, Managing Director of Impact Advisory at Social Finance, said. “Taxpayers are taking on the upfront costs of training—but local employers pay their fair share if they get the talent they need. We hope that this program becomes a model for other cities looking to link public funding to results.”
While the pilot focuses on careers in IT and financial services, the program aims to partner with more employers in other industries—including healthcare and advanced manufacturing—in the next year. Interested employers can visit SocialFinance.org/readytowork. Employers looking to participate in Ready to Work can take the employer pledge.
About Social Finance
Social Finance is a national nonprofit and registered investment advisor (SF Advisors, LLC). We work with the public, private, and social sectors to create partnerships and investments that measurably improve lives. Our Impact Investment team designs, launches, and manages impact-first investments. Our Advisory team partners with government and philanthropy leaders to implement data-driven programs for social impact. And through the Social Finance Institute, we aim to build the field and change systems through actionable research, communities of practice, and educational outreach. Since our founding in 2011, we have mobilized more than $350 million in new investments designed to help people and communities realize improved outcomes in workforce and economic mobility, health, and housing. Learn more at socialfinance.org.
About Ready to Work
Ready to Work is an education and job placement program informed by local employers to help thousands of people in San Antonio improve their quality of life and achieve professional success. Ready to Work offers participants an equitable, customized approach to acquire the skills needed to secure a high-paying job by offering support services to overcome financial, mental, and social challenges and to earn trade certifications, associate degrees, or bachelor’s degrees. Visit readytoworksa.com or follow Ready to Work on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn for more information.
Carrie Benjamin, Director of Media & Communications
Ana Salazar, Workforce Development Manager