MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said proposals from the Alabama Workforce Council, a panel that studied ways to advance the state’s workforce development efforts, could create a pathway that steers more Alabamians into high-wage, high-demand jobs.
Secretary Canfield said the panel’s recommendations come as employers in Alabama are demanding that workers have greater levels of education and skill to carry out complex duties in technology-heavy workplaces. To ensure residents have the proper credentials for 21st Century jobs, Alabama’s business leaders and educational officials must collaborate more closely than ever, he added.
“As we focus our economic development efforts more on advanced manufacturing projects and on research and product development operations, we are finding that companies want workers who possess the necessary skills and need only minimal training,” Secretary Canfield said. “These high-paying opportunities depend more on technical skills and problem-solving abilities than on manual labor.”
The Alabama Workforce Council, an advisory group composed chiefly of high-ranking business and education officials, began its work in mid-2014 and presented its recommendations to Governor Robert Bentley at a ceremony this week. The governor will now evaluate the group’s proposals.
“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.
The council’s recommendations include:
- Review Alabama’s workforce development framework, which divides responsibilities between several agencies, and establish a more streamlined and efficient structure
- 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
- Launch an awareness campaign to call attention to high-wage opportunities in technical careers
- Support legislation that promotes public/private partnerships that provide students with hands-on training and classroom instruction
Secretary Canfield said Alabama’s workforce development efforts would greatly benefit from more partnerships like one formed recently by Toyota’s engine plant in Huntsville and Calhoun Community College in Decatur, as well as the “Mechatronics” program established by Mercedes-Benz and Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa.
“Apprenticeship-type programs that establish a career pathway for young Alabamians and provide a pipeline of skilled workers for Alabama companies would have a major impact on this state and its residents if these programs could be launched on a broad scale,” he added.
Secretary Canfield said the council’s recommendations serve to provide a strong foundation for game-changing 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.