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Alabama continues to rise above workforce development challenges facing the state

As is an issue for the nation as a whole, many challenges currently face the state of Alabama in meeting industry demands regarding skilled and qualified labor in the 21st century economy.

Through collaborative efforts and partnerships between government, trade, educational and industrial entities, the Yellowhammer State is well-positioned to address the need to fill in-demand jobs.

A skilled, trained and educated workforce is imperative in today’s industrial landscape. With Alabama experiencing tremendous economic growth due to the state’s business-friendly environment, efforts are underway to keep up with the pace of new job creation by ensuring the workforce is present to fill the open positions.

As part of the Yellowhammer News Connect to your Future series, the following serves as an introduction to series sponsors which have undertaken in-depth initiatives to address existing workforce-related issues.

AlabamaWorks

Founded in 2015, the Alabama Workforce Council was established as a statewide coalition to seek and address issues relating to the state’s workforce, which led to the launch of AlabamaWorks.

Alabama Works serves the needs of students, job seekers and industry to identify opportunities that will lead to success in each’s respected endeavors. Whether an individual is in search of skill training opportunities, in search of a job or on the lookout for qualified employees, AlabamaWorks is stepping up to meet the need. The organization serves as a critical facilitator guiding workers and businesses to the appropriate avenues to place them on a path to future success.

AlabamaWorks actively connects individuals to invaluable resources such as Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), Alabama Technology Network and Rapid Response Team, which assists workers whose plants announce layoffs. Additionally, the organization works with a variety of assistance-based tools including youth and on-the-job-training programs as well as Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs.

The organization has coalesced a group of governmental partners in Alabama Workforce Council, Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Department of Labor and Alabama Career Center System which all connect those who AlabamaWorks serves to opportunities that have the potential of being life-changing.

Alabama Power

A crucial aspect of solving issues relating to workforce development is engaging students about the potential career opportunities that await them in the job market.

Alabama Power is not only a leading electric utility in the Yellowhammer State, but its organizational mission is to be ingrained within the communities it serves. As such, Alabama Power has launched multiple educational vehicles for students who are interested in entering the skilled labor market upon graduation.

JumpStartAL is a virtual reality-based training program sponsored by Alabama Power which seeks to foster the state’s next generation of skilled labor. The program alters the landscape of learning by providing students with a unique and exciting experience making them aware of career opportunities.

Alabama Power in 2008 launched iCan in an attempt to gauge girls’ interest in potential careers in engineering. Seeking to spark the interest of female youth in the fields of science and math, the program empowers girls by providing them with the tools and knowledge necessary to understand potential careers in the increasingly robust field of engineering.

By partnering with Apple, Tech Birmingham and Birmingham City Schools, Alabama Power promotes education equity through the Ed Farm initiative. The program introduces students and teachers alike to emerging technology that proves beneficial to in-classroom studies.

Manufacture Alabama

Established as a trade association to serve the interests of Alabama’s manufacturing sector, Manufacture Alabama addresses a wide-ranging host of issues regarding the field.

Boasting an array of partnerships and programs designed to develop skilled workers, Manufacture Alabama is a leading entity in Alabama working diligently to solve workforce-related challenges. While partnering with many of the aforementioned players in the realm of workforce development, the association also brings additional seats to the table to address the needs facing those who are seeking to enter the world of manufacturing.

Among the various resources Manufacture Alabama connects individuals to are Alabama JobLink, Apprenticeship Alabama, Existing Industry Training Program, Incumbent Worker Training Program and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit.

Oftentimes, financial barriers stand in the way of unleashing the full potential of Alabama’s workforce. These opportunities allow for those who are seeking to learn trades relating to in-demand careers the affordability to hone their skills and enhance their marketability.

Manufacture Alabama also seeks to connect individuals to workforce training centers around the state. These include Alabama Robotics Technology Park, Alabama Workforce Training Center, Maritime Training Center and Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center.

As the state of Alabama undertakes an ambitious, all-hands-on-deck approach to resolving issues surrounding workforce development, labor and industry alike stand to benefit from the collaborative effort of these organizations. While it is no secret that challenges remain, these organizations have gone above and beyond in their commitment to not only addressing, but overcoming challenges facing the state’s workforce.

Exciting opportunities await new and emerging career fields which have experienced tremendous technological advances within the past few years. As new technological trends in the workplace can be intimidating and present various challenges, they also present new opportunities for workers to take full advantage of a dynamic job market.

With Alabama’s economy showing no signs of slowing, innovative partnerships and initiatives such as these are needed to ready Alabama’s next generation of talented workers to obtain rewarding and well-paying jobs.

Thank you to our “Connect to your Future” sponsors: Alabama Power, Alabama Works and Manufacture Alabama for making this initiative possible.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL