5 months ago

Ivey administration’s workforce development efforts already paying dividends, set up future prosperity

MONTGOMERY — The day after Yellowhammer News published an exclusive interview with Governor Kay Ivey in which she explained that workforce development is key to the Alabama aerospace industry’s continued growth, the governor’s office released an impressive update on the state’s overall workforce development efforts.

Ivey also recognized that when the economy is strong and unemployment is historically low, like Alabama is experiencing now, the challenge is reaching individuals who need further preparation to enter, or re-enter, the workforce, just as the challenge for businesses is finding a sufficient number of skilled workers to keep up with growth.

“In order to meet the current and future demands of business and industry, more must be done to develop a workforce development system that offers a seamless educational journey for individuals to enter in-demand career pathways at every stage of life,” Ivey said in a statement on Tuesday.

The governor’s workforce development efforts began with her signature Strong Start, Strong Finish education initiative, which lays the groundwork to support the education to workforce pipeline. The initiative, announced in July 2017, focuses on three stages of education: 1) early childhood education, 2) computer science in middle school and high school and 3) workforce preparedness.

Additionally, Ivey has made it a priority of her administration to create the most effective workforce development programs possible for Alabamians across the state. To accomplish this goal, she recently established the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation (GOEWT), which Ivey told Yellowhammer News on Monday aligns workforce development funding with projects in the Yellowhammer State.

“Already, Alabama is taking the lead in workforce development efforts, which catches the attention of companies from around the globe and ultimately provides more opportunities for Alabamians,” Ivey remarked.

‘It’s a win-win situation’

Through apprenticeship expansion efforts, the governor is also positioning the workforce development programs across the state to work in the best interests of Alabamians.

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington told Yellowhammer News, “When discussing workforce development and ensuring that Alabama has qualified workers to fill all the high-wage, high-skill jobs that are coming, it’s important to remember that initiatives such as Apprenticeship Alabama and other on-the-job training programs can help bridge the gap in so many ways. They not only allow Alabama’s workers to learn a skill or retrain while bringing home a paycheck, but they also allow Alabama’s employers to build an already trained workforce, while saving on wages. It’s a win-win situation.”

On June 10, Ivey signed SB 295 into law. Sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), SB 295 expands the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit by providing an additional $500 for hiring in-school youth apprentices. Additionally, SB 295 modifies the Apprenticeship Alabama Tax Credit to increase the base tax credit from $1,000 to $1,250. It increases the number of apprentices one employer may claim from five to 10, as well as the tax credit cap from $3 million to $7.5 million. The new law also established the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA).

“Getting both new high school graduates and existing workers prepared for the workforce with certified and marketable skills will not only provide better job opportunities, but also enhanced wages that can have a permanent, positive impact on the worker and their family,” Orr said in a statement.

The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship, when officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor, will be Alabama’s state apprenticeship agency housed by the Alabama Department of Commerce. The AOA will serve as a registration agency for registered apprenticeships in the state.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Ivey and the Alabama Legislature, we are moving to the next level of apprenticeship program development in our state,” AIDT Director Ed Castile advised. “Partnering with many Alabama companies, the Alabama Community College System, K-12 Education, the Alabama Workforce Council and our 7 Regional Workforce Councils we will be extremely successful in developing our skilled workforce through this new Alabama Office of Apprenticeship.  It is another ‘tool in the tool box’ to assist us in reaching the goals set forth in the Governor’s Success Plus plan.”

Important workforce development programs include Success Plus, AIDT and AlabamaWorks, too.

Public-private collaboration is especially crucial, as U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta stressed on Thursday during his visit to Huntsville’s Dynetics, which came after a tour of Calhoun Community College’s Decatur campus. Announcing at that time a $12 million federal grant to the Alabama Community College System for apprenticeships, Acosta noted that industry partners would provide additional matching funds to the relevant educational institutions to develop in-demand skills as part of their programs. This was highlighted by Ivey’s office on Tuesday.

“Alabama’s 24 community colleges are working every day within their local communities to ensure students, from high schoolers to adults looking to advance their skills, have a pathway to success through education and skills training,” ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker added in a statement.

“We are proud that our most recent efforts to expand apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities for thousands of Alabamians have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. This expansion will help individuals gain the real-world experience that business and industry is seeking as they hire for well-paying, in-demand jobs,” he concluded.

Additionally, in June, the state of Alabama received a $1.2 million federal grant expanding funding for state apprenticeships. Coinciding with the federal grant, the state legislature budgeted $1 million to offset the costs associated with dual enrollment courses and credential fees for apprentices. The grant coupled with the state investment will be used to provide scholarships for a dual enrollment or community college course that is part of apprentices’ related technical instruction.

“Alabama is a state so full of potential, both in the workforce opportunities we are seeing develop, as well as in the preparedness of its citizens to fulfill those workforce opportunities,” state Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey remarked.

“The aggressive advances we are seeing in workforce development efforts will open doors for professional, economic and industrial growth in our great state,” he continued. “We look forward to the shared vision of Alabama being the hallmark of a state booming with progress, and an education system primed to produce students who are well-equipped to meet the demands of a thriving workforce.”

Then, on June 24, Credential Engine awarded Alabama a $50,000 technical grant to support credential transparency. The Alabama Department of Commerce will serve as the fiscal agent and manager of this project.

Along with the Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation and a myriad of state education and workforce development agencies will collaborate to publish all of the certificates, licenses, traditional degrees and non-degree credentials offered in Alabama to the credential registry.

What does industry think of Alabama’s workforce development efforts?

While there is no doubt that the state’s workforce development plans and programming sound good on paper, results speak louder than words.

In this case, the results have been great, with companies continuing to choose the Yellowhammer State for new economic development projects and expansions, especially in the automotive and aerospace industries, for example.

Speaking to Yellowhammer News on Monday, Ivey said that Alabama’s workforce is at the very top of the list of issues discussed during recruitment pitches. She also explained that businesses have been very receptive to these pitches and happy with the state’s workforce development efforts.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Alabama Department of Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said, “This is truly an exciting and pivotal point in our state’s history… Fortunately, Governor Ivey had the foresight to recognize that we must grow a workforce pipeline of available and highly-skilled Alabamians to meet our projected job growth.”

“The success of Alabama’s economic development team is directly related to the quality of the state’s workforce,” he continued. “Our success is producing the effect of putting more Alabamians on company payrolls across the state, and we are experiencing the lowest levels of unemployment in our history.”

How can the average Alabamian help?

While these workforce development policies and programs are being spearheaded at the very highest levels of government and private industry, each and every eligible Alabama voter can do their part in March 2020 to support these efforts.

On this primary election date, SB 397 will be up for a referendum of the people, and Ivey says this proposed educational reform is crucial for further workforce development gains.

“Education is the key to everybody’s prosperity,” she told Yellowhammer News.

The governor stressed that getting the state board of education functioning correctly will increase outcomes for all levels of education, from early childhood through workforce preparedness.

“I’m very optimistic that we can convince the people of Alabama that we need to start at the top (with the state board) to make these changes, and having an appointed board will be far more effective,” Ivey emphasized.

“You say, ‘Why?’ Well, right now board members are elected, and they have to worry about constituencies that put money into their campaigns,” she continued. “Why are our standards for teacher preparation programs at our four-year colleges not very strong? And you ask a board member that, and they say, ‘Well, we get pushback.’ On appointed boards, you don’t get pushback, you have a defined person that you’re responsible to and defined things we want to achieve — and I believe we can be more effective preparing our students pre-k through 12th grade and beyond [that way].”

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

33 mins ago

Bradley Byrne slams Democrats’ allegation of ‘bribery’ against President Trump

Republican Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) gave a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Tuesday where he slammed Democrats’ latest allegation of “bribery” against President Donald Trump.

“Unfortunately, I must rise again because – like so many times before – the goalposts for impeaching President Trump have moved,” Byrne stated. “At this rate, Nancy Pelosi must be any field goal kicker’s worst nightmare.”

“Since day one – literally day one – it has been abundantly clear that the far-left members of the so-called ‘Squad’ have been moving this Democratic majority closer to impeaching the President,” Byrne continued. “They don’t care why or how. They don’t care what evidence, real or imagined, is used. They only care about the end result – impeaching President Trump so he will not win reelection.”

He added, “As this radical faction gains dominance in the Democrat party, Speaker Pelosi has tried every justification in the book to impeach this president.”

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Byrne then recalled the Democrats’ previous, failed attempts at destroying the Trump administration.

“We were told for years we’d get to impeachment from the Mueller report,” Byrne said. “They said, just wait, wait till the report! It’s going to show Russian Collusion! Well, two years and millions of dollars down the drain, Mueller showed no collusion. The Democrat narrative quickly turned towards ‘obstruction of justice,’ but that too fell flat.”

“But then, Mr. Speaker, the majority got a new gift – the whistleblower,” he continued. “Never mind he had no firsthand knowledge of what he blew the whistle on, never mind he’s a partisan Democrat, never mind he worked with Adam Schiff on his new allegations against President Trump.”

The rest of Byrne’s remarks are as follows:

It was campaign finance violations! Well, that didn’t work. So, then it was quid pro quo! For weeks, that’s all the majority has talked about. Not anymore. Apparently, Mr. Speaker, some highly-paid political consultants warned Speaker Pelosi that quid pro quo did not resonate with the American people. So now, it seems they’ve moved on to another version of impeachment that tested best in their focus groups – the nefarious-sounding ‘bribery.’ It’s bribery! That’s what we will impeach President Trump on!

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think my friends on the other side need to dust off their law books because, unfortunately for their latest impeachment fantasy, bribery isn’t just some word. It’s a real crime with a real definition. And it’s one that this majority cannot prove.

You see, bribery occurs when an individual ‘corruptly’ links receiving something of value in exchange for an official government action.

I say to the majority, show me how asking Ukraine to look into the 2016 election and into the sketchy dealings of Hunter Biden is acting corruptly! Because I’ll tell you what, I’ll show you evidence that Ukrainian officials were working to boost Secretary Clinton, and I’ll show you evidence that the Obama Administration was itself concerned about Hunter Biden’s deals. I think most Americans will say maybe the President of the United States should be looking into those things. I think they will say we want the President looking into possible corruption in our government and interference in our elections.

More importantly, I say to the majority, show me how President Trump linked aid to these investigations! Mr. Speaker, President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine President Zelensky, you know, the one that the whistleblower blew the whistle on, is on the internet! Everyone can read it. And I hope they will. Because nowhere in that call did President Trump ever link any aid to Ukraine in exchange for anything. The President did not one time, not one time, even mention any kind of hold on the aid. Not once!

This is not bribery. This is not impeachable conduct. Yet here we are, trying to remove the President of the United States, the leader of this country, the man chosen by the voters, over these newest allegations. Mr. Speaker, the American people see past this charade. They know this is a partisan political scheme. And at this point, I think most people who are paying attention – those who haven’t tuned out – know this is just the latest effort by Democrats to throw something at the wall and see if it sticks. President Trump has committed no ‘bribery, treason, or high crimes and misdemeanors’ – the only offenses that the Constitution says warrant impeachment.

I ask the majority – when do we stop and get back to the business of the American people? I yield back.

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

2 hours ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall leads national coalition defending Second Amendment to SCOTUS

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall continues to be a staunch defender of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In his latest stalwart act of advocacy for citizens’ right to keep and bear arms, Marshall on Monday filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Alabama and 20 other states.

The brief calls on the Supreme Court to hear (in Malpasso v. Pallozzi) a challenge to a Maryland law that sharply limits the right of typical, law-abiding citizens to carry a handgun outside of the home.

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In a statement, Marshall commented, “The overwhelming majority of states recognize that the Second Amendment allows law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms outside their homes for self-defense.”

“However, a handful of states have decided that citizens’ rights to possess a handgun outside their residence should apply only to when they meet certain limited criteria,” he outlined. “In this case, a Maryland citizen was denied the fundamental right to self-defense because he failed to convince a bureaucrat that he faced some special danger to his safety.”

Marshall continued, “But the right to bear arms is not reserved for just a select few citizens. And there is no question that the Second Amendment right to ‘bear arms’ extends beyond the home. As Justice Clarence Thomas memorably put it: ‘I find it extremely improbable that the Framers understood the Second Amendment to protect little more than carrying a gun from the bedroom to the kitchen.’”

The States of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia joined on to Alabama’s amicus brief.

“A few states have passed laws similar to Maryland’s that severely limit Second Amendment rights, and those laws are rightfully being challenged in federal court as unconstitutional,” Marshall concluded. “Alabama and 20 other states call on the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of Malpasso v. Pallozzi and decide whether laws that deny law-abiding citizens the right to bear arms infringe on Second Amendment rights.”

Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour and Deputy Solicitor General Barrett Bowdre signed onto Marshall’s amicus brief. LaCour is listed as the counsel of record.

RELATED: Steve Marshall takes issue with multi-state lawsuit to keep 3D-printed gun plans off the internet

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

2 hours ago

Roby: Alabama bicentennial amplified by current ‘extreme economic development and job growth’

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) on Tuesday joined Alabama’s entire U.S. House delegation in honoring the Yellowhammer State’s upcoming bicentennial anniversary on the chamber floor.

In a speech, Roby introduced H. Res. 711, which recognizes the incorporation of Alabama as the 22nd state in the Union on December 14, 1819.

Reps. Bradley Byrne (AL-01), Mike Rogers (AL-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Mo Brooks (AL-05), Gary Palmer (AL-06) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) joined Roby in commemorating the historic milestone.

Roby’s remarks not only mentioned the marker of Alabama’s statehood but lauded its current progress.

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“This is a monumental occasion in our state’s history, and we are looking forward to joining Alabamians in a year full of memorable celebration and commemoration of the bicentennial,” she said. “Alabama is currently experiencing extreme economic development and job growth across the state, which makes this special time even more exciting for us all.”

This comes after it was announced on Friday that Alabama’s unemployment rate dipped below 3% for the first time ever. The state has been breaking economic records consistently, with each month seemingly bringing even better news. The main focus now for the state’s economy is workforce development efforts to increase Alabama’s pool of skilled workers.

Roby, who is not seeking reelection to a sixth term, concluded, “I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve the people of Alabama as we celebrate the birthday and history of the beloved state we all call home.”

Watch:

You can learn more about Alabama’s bicentennial here, including special events across the state.

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

2 hours ago

Technology services veteran appointed to lead State of Alabama’s IT operations

Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday announced that Marty Redden will serve as the permanent Alabama Office of Information Technology (OIT) secretary effective immediately. Redden has been serving as the acting secretary since July.

In a statement, Ivey said, “Since Marty stepped in to OIT as the acting secretary, he has run the agency effectively and with great prudence, and the state will certainly benefit from his leadership in this position. I am confident Marty will continue refining the agency, to make it run successfully and be accountable to the people of Alabama.”

“His decades of experience in the technology field is already paying off for OIT and our other state agencies, which is why I am proud that he will continue serving in this capacity,” she advised.

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Redden has three decades of experience in the IT field, include 20 years in management.

He began his career in banking and finance technology. In 2007, he transitioned to a career in state service. Redden has since held high-level management positions in the Alabama Department of Corrections, the Alabama Medicaid Agency and the state Finance Department. While working with each of these agencies, Redden originated, led and implemented technology advancements and improvements, per a release from the governor’s office.

Redden remarked, “As secretary of OIT, my overriding mission is to provide Alabama’s state government with the best technology services at the smallest cost to the taxpayers we serve. Every service that the state provides to its citizens involve some form of technology, so if we do our job well, countless Alabamians will get the help they need more quickly, efficiently and effectively.”

“I appreciate the confidence Governor Ivey has placed in me and will work every day to prove it justified,” he concluded.

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

3 hours ago

Tua needs our support — Guess who else does

His five words hit home.

Five words that could have been uttered by a Tua Tagovailoa teammate, one of Tua’s parents, an Alabama football fan and, yes, you.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

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Who doesn’t feel bad for one of the greatest quarterbacks not only in Alabama football history, but in college football history? Barring an unlikely return to the Capstone for his senior season, Tua is done in Tuscaloosa. The good news? While it will be a long road, team orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lyle Cain expects Tagovailoa to make a full recovery from the hip injury suffered only days ago. Yes, Tua’s NFL future is bright.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

Those five words could have been uttered by anyone, but the man who said it? Head coach Nick Saban. Yes, the tough, demanding, intimidating coach who rarely reveals his most inner thoughts is hurting, and he shared his heart in Tuscaloosa at his weekly media gathering.

Over the last few days, Saban has been a punching bag for many critics and some fans — their take? The coach is to be blamed for Tua’s injury. After all, they say, it was Saban who had the final say in whether or not his quarterback, still sore from the LSU game and a player who 27 days earlier had ankle surgery, would start against Mississippi State. It was Saban who left Tua in the game despite a big Bama lead deep into the first half of the game. It was Saban who is ultimately responsible for the injury, they allege.

I say hogwash. I say that Nick Saban didn’t hurt Tua, football did.

The bottom line here is that Tua Tagovailoa could have suffered an injury getting off the bus. He could have been injured on his first snap, his final snap or anywhere in between. That’s the cruel sport of football, where injuries occur, even when they are not in the least connected to an earlier injury.

As Tua now begins rehab following Monday’s hip surgery, prayers and well wishes continue to come his way. But I’m here to tell you that Tua’s coach could use some support as well. On the exterior, Nick Saban is all business, the man in charge. He spends long hours at work between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. doing what he does. But you can bet that when the coach makes his long, dark drive home late at night, when he tries to fall asleep and when he rises early in the morning, Tua Tagovailoa is on his mind. Is he second-guessing himself? If he is, he shouldn’t be. Do the critics bother him? Remember, even the toughest man on the block has feelings.

Only Nick Saban, Miss Terry and a handful of close friends know what the coach is feeling. As we see a coach who is all business, a coach who has a tough exterior and a no-nonsense flare, I have a strong feeling that Nick Saban is struggling a bit this week. My message? As we pray for Tua and wish him well, perhaps the Alabama football coach can also use our support.

“I feel bad, I’m hurting.”

With those five words, Nick Saban offered us a rare glimpse into his heart. May the Alabama family be reminded that the head of the family can use a few prayers as well.

Rick Karle is a 24-time Emmy winning broadcaster and a special sports contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is also the host of the Huts and Nuts podcast.