Austin Electric trains, hires refugees through special program

Austin Electric trains, hires refugees through special program  

Austin Electric Services has hired and trained 150 refugees from Cuba, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The Phoenix-owned and operated company started its refugee training program out of necessity after the economic downturn.

Determined to find qualified and skilled individuals, Austin Electric Services reached out to the Home Builder Association of Central Arizona, which introduced them to Refugee Focus and the International Rescue Committee. Both organizations help displaced people find work.

"The refugees came to Arizona looking for a way to feed their families and to keep a roof over their head," Toby Thomas, president and founder of Austin Electric, said. "We've always been interested in helping the community and when we realized that we needed more manpower to keep up with the demand of Arizona's home building business, it seemed like a perfect fit."

In June 2015, the company launched a specialized training program and hired the first 50 new workers through the refugee organizations. A six-month training program taught them about electrical installation. The organizations also helped Austin Electric provide translators to help those who do not yet know English.

Furthermore, Austin Electric has helped the refugees obtain driver's licenses and provided company vehicles in some cases for the workers to get to and from job sites.

"These are extremely dedicated and hard-working individuals," Thomas said. "It's been not only rewarding because we have a larger pool of workers, but also because we've been able to put about 150 refugees back to work and we know we are doing our part at Austin Electric."

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