MONTGOMERY, Alabama — After six months of study and preparation, the Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) presented a series of recommendations to Governor Robert Bentley that aim to better prepare state residents for a wide array of skilled jobs, including those in advanced manufacturing and knowledge-based fields such as bioscience.
Zeke Smith, an executive vice president at Alabama Power Co. who chairs the AWC, presented the panel’s report to Governor Bentley on Feb. 4 at a ceremony at the State Capitol. The group, consisting of business leaders, education officials and others, was asked to analyze Alabama’s future workforce needs and make suggestions on how those needs can be met.
“We’ve been on this journey for about six months, governor, with a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of questions, a lot of research that was done picking the brains of business and education experts all across the state of Alabama,” Smith said at the ceremony. “We’re excited today to deliver to you that which you really asked us to do and that was a responsibility to foster dialogue between business, industry and education to develop these recommendations.”
The AWC’s report makes detailed recommendations that aim to improve Alabama’s workforce development efforts, including:
- Increase cooperation between the state’s education systems and its business community to permit a constant, two-way flow of information.
- Devise strategies to more fully inform students and their parents about opportunities in the skilled trades and about training leading to high-wage, high-demand jobs in technical fields.
- Re-align the state’s workforce initiatives, now spread among several agencies, into a “one-stop shop” to increase efficiency and eliminate confusion.
- Boost the number of public-private job-training partnerships across the state.
- Fund improvements to the Regional Workforce Development Council structure to help these key organizations better identify workforce development needs across the state.
- Hire additional Pre K-12 career coaches to help students identify career opportunities they might want to pursue given individual interests and skill sets.
Smith told Governor Bentley that the AWC recommendations seek to “accomplish one mission: to improve educational outcomes and promote workforce and economic development for the state of Alabama.”
Click here to download or print the AWC report.
BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR CHANGE
Governor Bentley indicated that he plans to study the council’s recommendations with the goal of putting them into practice. He added that some of the group’s conclusions will be included in an update of Accelerate Alabama, the state’s strategic economic development growth plan that was adopted in 2012.
“I am convinced that the path to a brighter and more productive Alabama rests in the ability to educate and train our existing and future workforce,” Governor Bentley said.
Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the council’s recommendations will serve to provide a strong foundation for dramatic improvements to the state’s workforce and economic development efforts in coming years.
“This initiative, which links Alabama’s business sector and education systems in a partnership, will help to create opportunities for residents and develop the pipeline of workers the state needs to fully realize its economic potential,” he added.
The Alabama Workforce Council began its work in July 2014 after Governor Bentley received a recommendation from his College and Career Ready Task Force, which examined how to leverage the state’s education and industry resources to improve student achievement and boost workforce and economic development.
The AWC has been tasked with advising and supporting of the state Board of Education, the chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, college and university presidents of Alabama’s four-year institutions, and the Superintendent of the Department of Education in formulating policies, developing innovative educational workforce programming, and discussing issues related to the state’s workforce development needs.