UpSkill SA!

How might we quickly upskill incumbent retail workers to prepare them for careers in Advanced Manufacturing and other growth sectors that can enable their social mobility?


San Antonio, Texas, is the second fastest growing city in the nation and its 18.6% poverty rate is the highest among the 25 most populous U.S. Metropolitan Areas (U.S. Census Bureau 2019). Concentrated poverty and an increasing income divide make San Antonio one of the most economically segregated American cities. Lower-wage jobs dominate the job market and a mismatch of skills and employer needs is a barrier to social mobility.

Creative, place-based approaches bridging industry and higher education are essential to equip incumbent workers with the tools necessary to compete for higher wage jobs. For San Antonio, such partnerships could be key to unlocking economic opportunity.

In collaboration with Goodwill San Antonio, Alamo Colleges Online, Palo Alto College, and SA Works, the Lab is designing two upskilling pathways that position incumbent frontline retail workers with the skills necessary to advance to higher-wage, middle-skilled jobs in advanced manufacturing and other growth sectors.

With a local footprint of 24 retail centers across seven counties in the region, Goodwill San Antonio employs 1,400 workers, including many frontline incumbent workers who serve in customer-facing and logistics capacities. UpSkill SA! aims to quickly upskill Goodwill San Antonio’s incumbent workers, most of whom are adults facing life barriers to employment. Through these pilots, we will support workers as they receive a foundational exposure to both 21st century and technical skills that will prepare them for careers in Advanced Manufacturing and other growth sectors.

Primary Audience

Incumbent frontline retail workers

Project Length

February 1, 2019 - August 1, 2021

Numbers of Learners Impacted

Initial Pilot Impact: 47, as of Spring 2020; At Scale Expected Impact: 500, by August 2021


Alamo Colleges Online (Texas)Palo Alto College (Texas)