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‘Alabama is focused on the future’: 21st century workforce partnership launches

Stakeholders on Wednesday announced the launch of JumpStartAL, a private-public partnership to help carry out Alabama’s bold strategy for the future of workforce development.

A release outlined that through using leading edge virtual reality (VR) training solutions from job simulator TRANSFRVR, JumpStartAL will offer new education and training programs to develop the Yellowhammer State’s next generation of highly skilled workers.

Private sector partners spearheading the initiative include Alabama Power Company, Altec Industries, the Business Council of Alabama (BCA), and Balch and Bingham.

“Alabama is focused on the future,” Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement. “JumpStartAL will help ensure that we are positioned to attract the jobs of tomorrow by educating and training Alabamians to take advantage of the opportunities those jobs will provide.”

The initiative will reportedly highlight career paths needed for Alabama to meet its goal to increase its workforce by 500,000 highly skilled workers by 2025.

The statewide network of partners supporting the initiative also includes the Alabama Community College System; Ready to Work, which is operated by Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT); the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education; the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development; Shelby County economic development organization 58 INC; Central Six Alabama Works; and the Alabama Department of Commerce.

JumpStartAL training modules are created with input from industry partners and will help participants develop specific skills needed for jobs, beginning with manufacturing and expanding into other industries in the future. Training is available free of charge for anyone interested in a career in the skilled trades, including high school students, veterans, workers in existing industries, the unemployed and underemployed.

The initiative will initially roll out at five Alabama community colleges, with more campuses and training facilities added in the future:

• Coastal Alabama Community College
• Enterprise State Community College
• Jefferson State Community College
• Lawson State Community College
• Shelton State Community College

“Now, more than ever, we must be engaged in new and inventive ways to train the next generation of skilled workers,” stated Alabama Community College System Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker. “Our colleges are committed to meeting students where they are and helping them achieve a better future. Hands-on virtual reality training is a means of achieving that goal.”

The statewide business community’s backing of the initiative through both job placement strategies and financial efforts is critical to JumpStartAL’s success.

“It is a great privilege for Altec to be partnering with so many outstanding companies and organizations throughout Alabama on such an innovative workforce development initiative,” commented Jay Eichelberger, general manager for Altec.

“JumpStartAL demonstrates Alabama’s leadership role in developing skill-aligned training programs that help broaden employment and economic opportunities,” Eichelberger added. “It will ensure that those entering the workforce are much better prepared to succeed, while allowing employers within the state to utilize state-of- the-art training technology that is focused on specific job skills and requirements.”

Additionally, the initiative will focus on addressing new challenges and opportunities that arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The organizations and companies that make up JumpStartAL have a shared vision of ensuring Alabama and its citizens are well positioned for a prosperous and inclusive future in the 21st century economy,” said Leigh Davis, vice president of economic and community development for Alabama Power. “We are honored to join with them to help make this vision a reality.”

A full list of JumpStartAL partners can be found here.

Companies interested in joining the partnership can visit the initiative’s website here. Individuals wanting more information on training locations and how to sign up can learn more here.

The rollout of JumpStartAL comes after the National Governors Association recently featured the State of Alabama’s workforce efforts in a countrywide guide.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn