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Shift into gear: AIDT driving for 11,000 autoworking jobs

AIDT, Alabama’s primary workforce development agency, is accelerating its efforts to expand employment in the state’s auto industry by reviving a multistate campaign to attract a new generation of workers for the fast-growing sector.

AIDT is relaunching its Shift campaign, which debuted in March 2022, to help fill more than 11,000 career opportunities now available at automakers’ Alabama facilities and the extensive network of suppliers stretching across the state.

“The Shift campaign’s No. 1 goal is to get people interested in automotive jobs, even those people who already have jobs,” said Ed Castile, AIDT’s long-serving director. “We think when they see the possibilities, it will grab their interest enough for them to consider a career in the auto industry.

“Alabama is home to five of the top automotive companies in the world and their suppliers, so there are plenty of good jobs available,” he said.

Working in concert with key industry players, Castile said the Shift campaign seeks to help fill all types of positions, from management to production, that can become rewarding career pathways.

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

‘Ground floor’

The campaign’s centerpiece — a website called shiftinalabama.com that allows job seekers to apply for open positions throughout the industry — rolled out last year alongside a five-month digital campaign that reached more than 1 million people and generated thousands of applications.

Castile said the second Shift campaign aims to reach potential workers both in Alabama and in other states, including Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. It will specifically target people who are underemployed or who recently entered the workforce.

The auto industry jobs now available in Alabama offer above-average pay along with robust benefits packages that can include health insurance, an annual bonus, a matching retirement plan, paid holidays and tuition reimbursement.

In general, no college education is necessary, though manufacturing or industrial experience may be required for some positions.

“This is a chance to get in on the ground floor as a new wave of technologies such as electric powertrains and artificial intelligence are reshaping the auto industry,” Castile said.

“Technology is radically changing the cars we drive, as well as the factories where they are built — it’s phenomenal what is happening in these places,” he said.

(Mercedes)

Alabama’s auto manufacturing industry has become a key driver for the state’s economy, with 47,000 direct jobs as of May 2023, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. About 21,300 of those jobs are in auto assembly plants, an increase of 2,200 in one year.

The automakers operating in Alabama generate compensation topping $5 billion each year while contributing $12.6 billion in economic activity and $2 billion in taxes, according to Autos Drive America, an industry organization representing foreign automakers in the U.S.

And there’s room for growth. Alabama’s automakers produced nearly 1 million vehicles in 2022 — a figure that’s expected to rise to as many as 1.3 million vehicles annually, reflecting the production capacity of the state’s assembly plants.

“Alabama’s automakers are forging ahead with ambitious growth strategies, with innovations that signal promising futures for their products, employees and the communities they call home,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “These companies have a proven track record of success — of adapting, reimagining and transforming what they offer to customers — and Alabama workers are helping to fulfill that mission in markets around the world.”

(Alabama NewsCenter/Contributed)

Growing industry

Mercedes-BenzHondaHyundaiToyota and Mazda have invested $15 billion in their Alabama assembly operations. In addition, more than 150 suppliers have set up shop in the state, according to Alabama Department of Commerce data.

Castile said Alabama’s automakers (OEMs) are considered top employers in the state, with a strong focus on training, job satisfaction, upward mobility and environmental stewardship.

Over three decades, AIDT has built a solid partnership with the industry, completing automotive training for more than 125,000 people.

“We are full partners with all of our auto OEMs and almost all their suppliers in the workforce space, having recruited, assessed and trained workers for many years and through all their expansions,” said Castile, who also serves as deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“Our auto companies continue to invest in their Alabama operations. We’re a real player in the industry now, and we’re just going to keep becoming a bigger player in this influential global business,” he said.

The Shift campaign was developed by Big Communications, a Birmingham advertising and marketing firm that also created the “Made in Alabama” brand for the Alabama Department of Commerce more than a decade ago.

This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.

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