MONTGOMERY, Alabama – Beginning today, many of Alabama’s key workforce development programs are being consolidated in a new division within the Alabama Department of Commerce that aims to improve workforce readiness and spur business expansion across the state.
The formation of Commerce’s new Workforce Development Division creates a better aligned option for businesses needing job-training and other workforce services across the state. Previously, the system was fragmented, with services spread across a number of agencies.
“Job creation is my No. 1 priority and restructuring the state’s workforce development efforts will provide many benefits for future and existing companies doing business in Alabama,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “Alabama is known around the world for its highly trained workforce and by restructuring this division with the Department of Commerce, I believe it will further assist citizens seeking in-demand skills.
“This consolidation of programs will also enhance Alabama’s competitiveness and fuel the creation of new high-paying jobs,” he added.
Commerce’s new Workforce Development Division is headed by Ed Castile, the longtime leader of AIDT, the state’s highly regarded job-training agency. Castile adds the title of Deputy Secretary of Commerce and remains at the helm of AIDT.
As part of the restructuring, several workforce-related programs from other state agencies are being transferred to Commerce. The new Workforce Development Division will break down along these lines:
- AIDT, a part of Commerce for the past three years, is joined by newly added divisions in creating the Workforce Development Division. Since its founding in 1971, AIDT has worked with more than 3,300 businesses and trained more than 600,000 Alabama workers.
- Workforce development functions previously carried out by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs have been shifted to the new Commerce’s division. These include Workforce Investment Boards, Rapid Response, and the Incumbent Worker Training Program, as well as other federal programs and grants.
- The Alabama Workforce Council, a blue-ribbon panel established by Governor Bentley to explore how to improve educational outcomes and strengthen workforce and economic development efforts, is now part of Commerce’s Workforce Development Division.
- Oversight of the state’s 10 Regional Workforce Councils has been transferred to Commerce’s Workforce Division from the Alabama Community College System (ACCS). The councils provide a direct link to the workforce needs of business and industry at the local level.
ACCS schools will continue to play an important role in workforce development, providing valuable career and technical education programs and working with firms around the state to provide customized training.
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said the timing is right for the state to centralize its workforce services because employer demands for workers with particular skill sets continue to rise. Frequently, companies with expansion plans immediately eliminate locations that don’t offer the mix of skills and education they are seeking.
“Streamlining Alabama’s workforce development programs to house them in one place offers many advantages,” Secretary Canfield said. “It will increase efficiency and allow us to better manage the programs, while also making it more convenient for businesses needing workforce services. These improvements will boost our ability to compete for new investment and jobs for Alabama residents.”
Castile agreed that the timing is right for the realignment.
“As we work across the state to provide a trained and trainable workforce we have been listening to the customers as they seek a fully developed worker to meet their needs,” he said. “This workforce program alignment gives us the formula to provide that worker and meet the company’s workforce needs.”