10 months ago

Huntsville’s Dynetics signs Trump’s ‘Pledge to America’s Workers,’ will hire 700 new employees over five years

HUNTSVILLE — U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta on Thursday went on a flurry of tours highlighting north Alabama’s high-tech boom, saying the area’s success would not be possible without higher education and industry stakeholders working together.

After stops at Calhoun Community College’s Decatur campus and Huntsville’s ADTRAN, Acosta participated in a roundtable discussion about apprenticeships and manufacturing with senior leaders from Dynetics.

He then took a tour of the manufacturing division at Dynetics Technical Solutions, with the Trump cabinet official leaving more than impressed.

At a press conference afterward, he touched on getting rid of the “stigma” of hands-on jobs that require technical training rather than a four-year degree, something that Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame has made a personal mission.

Acosta emphasized that, backed by his tour just minutes earlier, modern manufacturing jobs are anything but “dirty.” He marveled at the state-of-the-art, high-tech facilities at Dynetics, which produces advanced technologies and products in industries that include defense and aerospace.

“What they are producing is precise,” Acosta explained. “And they’re not just running machines, they’re programming machines. We need to realize that what we think of as manufacturing is not what manufacturing is today.”

A big reason why Dynetics has been able to become an international industry leader is their own workforce development efforts.

Dynetics CEO David King outlined that the company’s “rich history of science and innovation” is driven by its employees.

Since being founded in Huntsville in 1974, Dynetics has grown to employ over 2,000 people across ten different states.

“The words manufacturing and Dynetics are becoming more synonymous with each day,” King said. “We provide solutions to address our nation’s most challenging advanced missions.”

In the precision machining and fabrication center that Acosta toured, King advised that Dynetics employs “more than 130 highly skilled personnel.”

Additionally, in their newly opened Gilbert Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville, Dynetics employs another 200 employees, all also of high skill and training — a core point of emphasis at the company.

Dynetics has achieved their level of success by offering their employees more and more ways to achieve a lofty degree of education, skill and training.

For example, they are currently conducting a summer internship program featuring 120 interns from 30 different colleges and universities. These interns get unique hands-on experience, often coming back to work at the company upon graduation with a head start.

“We’ve added more than 600 employees to Dynetics in the last three years,” King outlined. “And we take training and education very seriously. We’ve had over 500 employees be a part of ‘Dynetics University,’ which is an internal education movement that we have been doing for more than 30 years, where folks from Dynetics teach other folks here at Dynetics.”

“Last year, more than 2,000 employees participated in some other type of training, as well,” he continued. “This is tremendous for our company.”

While Dynetics is on the cutting edge of technology, education and training, the company wants to do even more. Which is why, on Thursday, King signed the Trump administration’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” which is a commitment to expand programs that educate, train and re-skill our nation’s workers from high-school age to near-retirement.

Dynetics, King said, is pledging to create “enhanced career opportunities for 700 individuals over the next five years” alone.

“Dynetics is definitely growing,” he said, before affirming that the company’s pledge is to hire “700 new employees,” many of whom would be in Alabama.

Speaking after King, Acosta thanked Dynetics for signing the important pledge.

“As I was walking around Dynetics today, I started talking to several employees. And so many individuals started out coming from tech schools, and then they had an opportunity to learn. And to progress along the career track, because Dynetics did not just give them a job. They gave them learning opportunities,” the labor secretary lauded.

“I met a young man who started from a tech school who’s now a manager of an entire department,” Acosta said. “I met another individual who’s coding, and again, he started from a tech school. And he is now running incredibly advanced machinery.”

He then broke down exactly what Dynetics’ story proves and what others can learn from their model of success.

“So the message is this: there are so many career paths available,” Acosta explained. “College for some. Apprenticeships for others.”

He hailed “employers that recognize talent and empower individuals by providing them educational and skill opportunities.”

‘Cooperation’ between industry, education key to north Alabama’s continued growth

Acosta’s visit came at a time when 7.4 million jobs are available across America. In Alabama, just like the rest of the nation, the biggest problem in this high-performing economy is that employers cannot find enough qualified workers to fill available positions and help grow their companies.

To address this, the Trump and Ivey administrations are both being aggressive in their workforce development efforts.

On the federal level, Acosta said that grants are being handed out to state community college systems to bolster local programs.

For example, the U.S. Department of Labor in recent days announced that the Alabama Community College System was being awarded $12 million to expand apprenticeships.

However, education and industry also need to work hand-in-hand, Acosta stressed to Yellowhammer News on Thursday.

“Northern Alabama’s manufacturing base is growing rapidly — faster than Alabama and faster than the nation’s manufacturing is,” he said. “Every year about 2,300 individuals are hired into advanced manufacturing in Alabama. And those career tracks pay great… for that $12 million investment, which is being matched by industry in the private sector to the tune of more than $4 million, the community college system has pledged to create an additional 5,000 apprenticeship opportunities in Alabama. So, I thank Dynetics for what its doing, I thank the community college system for what it’s doing, and, most importantly, we need to keep this up.”

As the economy continues to grow, so too will the need for more skilled workers.

“What we have seen that is most successful is when companies and educational partners come together,” Acosta advised. “And we’ve seen this in north Alabama in the apprenticeship programs. We’re seeing this at Dynetics and their commitment to educate their workforce. Education needs to work with business so that it focuses on the skills that are being demanded by the workforce. It has to be a partnership.”

Unfortunately, the American education system has not necessarily changed with the times across the nation to accommodate this need.

Alabama, under Governor Kay Ivey’s administration, has been trying to change this in pre-k — 12. Additionally, industry stakeholders such as AlabamaWorks continue to move the state’s workforce development efforts forward at impressive rates. And, luckily for the Yellowhammer State, the state’s four-year higher education institutions and community college system have been leaders in working alongside industry instead of telling industry what it should be doing. The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) is a prime example of this in north Alabama.

“So much of business has changed, so much of the way we interact with the world has changed with [increased technology],” Acosta remarked. “But something that hasn’t really changed is education. We still view education as a system where we learn and then we stop learning and we start working. And that doesn’t work. It needs to be a continuous burning and learning process. Where we continue learning on the job, continue acquiring skills to move up that career ladder and to learn the new technologies that are being used in places like Dynetics.”

Asked to pick one word to summarize what he witnessed on his north Alabama visit, Acosta immediately responded, “Cooperation.”

“Because the Huntsville area is growing so quickly, businesses have to… partner with the community college and educational system. And if they were not, the growth would not be happening,” he concluded. “Companies choose a city that has an educated, ready-and-able workforce. And the cooperation I have seen between the educational systems and their business partners here is spectacular.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

OK, it’s time to start talking about opening up Alabama’s economy

The irresponsibility of the media, national public health officials and China has effectively destroyed our economy, individual businesses and American lives.

It is time to look for the exit ramp.

On March 14, Ramsey Archibald, son of John Archibald, was responsible for a completely ridiculous piece of video that rightly scared the heck out of many Alabamians.

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Archibald helped push the message that 2.5 million Alabamians would get the coronavirus, adding, “Let’s be conservative and say 50% get COVID-19.”

But wait, there’s more.

The video also makes the following claims:

  • 500,000 will need to be treated at a hospital.
  • 125,000 will need treatment at an intensive care unit.
  • 25,000 people could die

The Alabama Media Group “data reporter” painted this projection of millions getting sick and 25,000 dead as the best-case scenario.

He — and his publication — got it wrong. Big time.

But it worked. In concert with other lunatics, they declared that Alabama Governor Kay Ivey wanted people to die, or was at least cool with it, if she didn’t declare Alabama to be a “shelter-in-place” state.

After all, they just heard of such a thing and the smart states were doing it, so the dummies in Alabama should do it as well.

I, for my part, saw this for what it was and pointed out that at some point the governor’s office would cave and make the order, so she should just do it.

That’s exactly what happened.

The numbers began to change.

March 14 — 25,000
March 31 — 1,700
April 1 — 7,300+
April 2 — 5,500+
April 5 — 923
April 8 — 634

Now, this other info came from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projections.

Archibald’s info? A CBS News piece and a calculator. The projection went from 25,000 to 634 in less than a month.

The national line moved from 2.2 million to 60,000+ in that same time frame.

But the storyline didn’t reflect that change.

“People will die!” after all.

It won’t change now either.

It’s time to acknowledge that Alabama should be figuring out how to get back open for business.

Here is my suggestion how:

  1. Social distancing continues until August 1
  2. All businesses, outside of bars, restaurants and sporting events, can open on May 1
  3. Bars, restaurants and sporting events can open on May 15 with half occupancy
  4. Everything can fully open up on June 1
  5. Dates can change based on data

Why these dates?

Why not? Archibald based his on less.

The other steps we took were based on incorrect information and a guess.

Nations in Europe are doing similar things, and I thought people wanted us to be like Europe.

Give Alabamians some hope. Let them know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Be optimistic, but safe. Be smart, but understand that people are suffering here.

Jobs and businesses are already lost, unemployment is through the roof. It’s time to show the people of Alabama that there was a reason for that.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

3 hours ago

Yellowhammer connects your business to Alabama consumers

After nine years, our mission remains the same: reflect our state, its people and their values. As the state’s second-largest media outlet, Yellowhammer connects your business to the people of Alabama.

Online, on the radio, podcasts, events and more. What can Yellowhammer do for you?

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3 hours ago

Ainsworth encourages Alabamians to ‘Ring for the Resurrection’ on Easter

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth is asking all Alabamians to join him in a “Ring for the Resurrection” campaign on Easter Sunday. The effort is intended to promote unity at this COVID-19 time of prolonged separation and to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion.

Ring for the Resurrection, which was created by Ainsworth, calls for all churches and individuals across the Yellowhammer State to ring a bell at noon on Sunday, April 12, in joint celebration of the holiday.

“Social distancing guidelines require us to remain apart from our extended families, church members, and other individuals on a sacred religious holiday that normally encourages us to gather together,” Ainsworth said in a statement on Wednesday. “But I realized that the simple act of ringing a bell can allow us to remain physically distant while being united in spirit.”

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“My wife, Kendall, our twin boys, Hunter and Hays, and our daughter, Addie, will be among those ringing a bell at noon on Sunday to celebrate the miracle of Easter,” he concluded. “While Gov. Ivey’s stay-at-home order, the public’s health and safety, and simple common sense prevent Christians from gathering in large groups even on the holiest of days, all of us can join together in spirit as we ring a bell to recognize that Christ has risen.”

This comes after Ainsworth earlier this week unveiled a new website designed to provide small business owners with a one-stop online information hub related to the ongoing pandemic.

RELATED: Ivey announces campaign encouraging Alabamians to pray for medical personnel, first responders

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

4 hours ago

COVID-19 restrictions unfairly choke small business

When Mark and Susan Anderson were required by a statewide mandate to close the doors of their Dothan clothing and outdoor gear store, Eagle Eye Outfitters, they felt like it was a necessary sacrifice for the good of public health. By limiting retail shopping to essential items such as groceries, prescriptions, and fuel, the governor’s order takes a great many people off the streets.

Hopefully, it slows the spread of the rampant COVID-19 virus. But the closure is incredibly painful for owners like them: it has forced them to furlough more than 150 employees, and the massive loss of revenue will leave a mark on their business for years.

What the Andersons don’t understand was how it is fair for one of their local competitors, the national chain Academy Sports and Outdoors, to continue selling the same types of apparel and outdoor gear.

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In this case, the loophole for Academy is their small firearms counter. Guns and ammunition are considered essential under the current order. Therefore, Academy and others who carry firearms have been allowed to continue to do business — even if guns and ammunition are only a small percentage of their overall sales.

One of the unintended consequences of the mandate is that small businesses, which often specialize in a more narrow range of merchandise, are penalized more heavily than their national chain competitors.

You heard that right: businesses owned and operated by Alabamians are absorbing the crushing cost of total closure, while national chains based out of state continue to snatch up what little retail demand still exists in the downturn.

If all businesses operating in Alabama were restricted from selling non-essential goods, small businesses might at least expect to benefit from the pent-up economic demand that will exist once the mandate is lifted. As it is, demand for those goods and services is funneled immediately to the big chains, cutting small business owners out of the deal entirely.

Bob Couch of Couch’s Jewelers feels that his small business is paying a higher price than others, as well. While he is forced to shutter his 75-year-old family jewelry store in downtown Anniston, Wal-Mart is allowed to continue selling jewelry just a short distance away. Because they carry groceries and have a pharmacy, they are allowed to sell anything.

None of the small business owners I spoke with this week felt the retail sales restrictions were unnecessary, given the scope and seriousness of the pandemic. But they think the state government has picked winners and losers with a poorly-conceived order.

They are right. And the governor can correct it today if she chooses.

Vermont heard a similar outcry from its small business community. In response, it amended its closure order so that businesses that remain open to offer essentials are limited to just those sales. In a large department store that offers a variety of goods, selling non-essentials is temporarily prohibited. No more going to Wal-Mart for groceries, but then wandering the aisles looking for a pair of gold earrings or a sleeping bag.

These are trying times for businesses of every size. But there’s no good reason for our own state government to damage Alabama’s small business owners further.

None of us likes the loss of civil liberties, or the freedom to do business as we choose — not even for a day. But if our current public health concerns are so extraordinary as to require such restrictions, the least government can do is ensure that they be equally and fairly applied. Every business operating in this state — big box or main street — should bear its share of the burden.

Dana Hall McCain, a widely published writer on faith, culture, and politics, is Resident Fellow of the Alabama Policy Institute; reach her on Twitter at @dhmccain.

API is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to free markets, limited government, and strong families, learn more at alabamapolicy.org.

5 hours ago

Alabama community colleges donate medical supplies to those fighting COVID-19

Community colleges across Alabama, many of which house nursing programs, are donating their medical equipment to those on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.

According to a release from the Alabama Community College System (ACCS), many campuses across Alabama have equipment for their “simulated healthcare settings” where students train for medical careers.

“We are grateful for the daily sacrifice of Alabama’s healthcare providers and are grateful we can do our part to help serve our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the ACCS.

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The equipment donated includes much sought-after ventilators that can help treat the most serious coronavirus cases.

The community colleges also handed out their supply of Personal Protective Equipment like masks to cover the face to local hospitals.

“Much like our efforts to meet the needs of every student that crosses our paths, our colleges work every day to help meet the needs of the communities they serve,” added Baker.

“On behalf of the Alabama Department of Public Health, I am grateful for the willingness of the Alabama Community College System to grant the urgent request for the loan of their available ventilators in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” commented State Health Officer Scott Harris.

“We are continually encouraged by the number of entities across the state that are rising to the occasion to meet the needs of the citizens of Alabama,” Harris concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.