By Jackie Mader, Photo: Katie Cotterill/The Hechinger Report, The Hechinger Report, November 2, 2022
By his mid-20s, Tommy Andrade was tired of working dead-end jobs. With a young child at home, he realized he needed more than a high school diploma to support his family. When he heard about a new, advanced manufacturing program at Austin Community College (ACC), Andrade was intrigued.
Some of the jobs that graduates would be trained for carried salaries well into the six figures, enough to give Andrade financial security, he figured, even in a city like Austin where the cost of living was spiking fast.
But first Andrade would have to take a pay cut: The 14-week program required him to participate in an internship that paid $17 an hour, less than he’d earned in his previous jobs as a salesman and bookkeeper. He worried he wouldn’t be able to afford rent, bills and afterschool care for his son.