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As Tesla Gigafactory reportedly close to coming online, job training programs expect another boost

After some certificates of completion were filed with Travis County, Tesla's Austin Gigafactory is one step closer to producing vehicles.

AUSTIN, Texas — According to Travis County, Tesla filed some certificates of completion for the Austin-based Gigafactory recently, possibly signaling that the manufacturer is one step closer to producing new SUVs.

As the opening of the Gigafactory nears, job training program leaders across Austin expect a boost in interest.

"For the last year, we've had a strong demand for manufacturing," Dr. Laura Marmolejo said. "It's been hard to get people into manufacturing because people don't know what it is and don't understand the opportunities that are there."

Marmolejo runs the manufacturing program at Austin Community College. ACC launched a Tesla-specific partnership last year in an effort to increase the number of employees ready to join the tech giant as the company grows.

"Technically, Tesla hires the candidates and then sends them to us for training, which is something we do with quite a few companies as we get grant funding to the State of Texas to help upskill employees," Marmolejo said.

As Tesla's Gigafactory edges closer to opening production, Marmolejo believes the partnership, and the entire manufacturing program, will gain even more interest.

"There's still going to be more jobs than there are students," Marmolejo said. "From my perspective, the goal is to help as many people into that industry and help them get a good job as possible. And that comes with awareness and the continued communication letting people know what's out there."

Skillpoint Alliance, another Austin-based manufacturing training program, has already seen an increasing number of applicants and students over the past two years.

"With this last class, we've got individuals who are all the way from 18 to 65, have enrolled in the class," Kevin Brackmeyer, the executive director for Skillpoint Alliance, said. "We have individuals who are just starting out their career and are looking for something to to get into. And then we have individuals who are changing careers and just really excited about the industry."

With Tesla starting to open, Brackmeyer and his instructors believe each new class will be the next largest class.

"Having more demand for these jobs is going to draw people towards these roles," Justin Frost, an advanced manufacturing instructor at Skillpoint Alliance, said. "The employers are starting to see that higher wages are drawing these people in and they're having to compete with with other companies to to fight over the talent. So the competition for wages is really driving more people into this program as well."

According to an interview in the Austin American-Statesman, one consultant believes Tesla may start producing Model Y and Cybertruck SUVs within the next week or two. Initially, Tesla planned to produce vehicles by the end of 2021. However, Tesla has not confirmed any change in production timeline, despite 2021 ending.

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