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Attraction and retainment of talent a key component of economic support found in Innovate Alabama report

Attracting and retaining skilled workers continues to be a major hurdle facing Alabama employers. As the state’s economy has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, the supply of skilled labor has struggled to keep pace with the amount of jobs employers seek to fill.

As part of the Yellowhammer News Connect to your Future series, the following serves as an informational piece regarding talent attraction and retention courtesy of series sponsor Alabama Power.

Innovation has emerged as a game-changer in the modern economy as entrepreneurs and industry seek to implement new and emerging technologies into business processes.

In July 2020, Gov. Kay Ivey established the Alabama Innovation Commission and its advisory council to develop policy recommendations aimed at spurring economic growth centered around entrepreneurship, innovation and technology.

The commission in mid-December released its official report outlining the policy recommendations that the Alabama Innovation Corporation Board will be charged with implementing. A key component to support Alabama’s innovation economy, the commission found, is the attraction and retainment of talent.

Regarding the state’s need for talent and human capital, the commission pointed to two primary action items to address the issue.

The first action item the commission advised to be critical to the state’s innovation economy was the retainment of in-state talent.

The commission’s recommendation states, “The Alabama Innovation Corporation should create a retention program targeting talent in STEM fields at Alabama universities and colleges (or expand the 2021 Retain Alabama program). This program could facilitate introductions to companies and executives in Alabama and fund activities that expose such talent to job opportunities, employers and quality of life in Alabama.”

While noting that Alabama’s institutions of higher learning actively train in-state and out-of-state talent, retaining individuals to work in Alabama after graduating is an underlying problem. To solve the issue, the commission recommended increased collaboration between universities, colleges and industries.

Utilizing a program that highlights the quality of life in Alabama and connects employers with in-state talent would prove beneficial to Alabama’s innovation economy, the report noted.

The report detailed milestones that should be reached from the current year until 2024 and provided identifiers to examine the program’s success.

Alongside retaining in-state talent, the commission suggested that leadership should take a targeted approach to recruiting talent outside of the state.

The recommendation reads in part, “Create a program under the Alabama Innovation Corporation focused on incentivizing workers with requisite credentials and entrepreneurs with records of success to live and work in Alabama. This program could provide access to the mentorship networks, discussed above, or other nonfinancial incentives to certain qualifying applicants to work in Alabama to take a full-time job in clearly defined sectors, or to work remotely within such sectors in Alabama, for a period of no less than two years.”

To accomplish this, the report outlined the need for the establishment of a pilot program to offer incentives to out-of-state talent.

The measurement of the program’s success would be determined by the number of new workers hired by Alabama businesses, the economic impact compared to the incentives’ cost and the state’s return on investment.

The commission’s full talent attraction and retention report can be seen here.

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

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