ACCS Board Gives Chancellor’s Reins to Former Acting Chancellor Jimmy Baker

Jimmy Baker’s title officially changed this spring from acting chancellor to chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. The ACCS Board of Trustees voted to appoint Baker as chancellor effective April 1. He had served six months as acting chancellor after Chancellor Mark Heinrich retired due to health reasons.

Baker has a long history in education, beginning as a high school teacher and coach at Daleville High School. He later served as superintendent of the Daleville City and Coffee County school systems.

At the State Department of Education, Baker worked as assistant state superintendent, overseeing budgets and financial reports for the state education office, local school systems and the community college system.

Baker was budget director in Gov. Fob James administration (1995-1999), and served 10 years as president of the brokerage firm George M. Wood & Co. He also managed large-scale real estate developments and operated several private partnership businesses, including a medical evacuation company.

Baker became chief of staff at the community college system in January 2016 and was named acting chancellor in August.

“Jimmy Baker has done a tremendous job of leading the system during the chancellor’s absence and has been far more than a place-holder,” said Al Thompson, vice chairman of the community college system’s board of trustees. “As we searched for a permanent replacement, we realized we could never find a chancellor who would be more experienced or prepared than Jimmy Baker.”

Baker said he was honored to be named chancellor.

“Alabama has no greater asset than its community college system, and we are uniquely positioned to ensure our students have the skills they need to meet their goals,” Baker said. “While we will continually adapt and upgrade our programs, our basic mission remains the same. We want to provide our students opportunities for success, whether they want to work toward a four-year degree, to get a good job, or to upgrade their skills.”

Read the announcement about the ACCS board’s decision to name Baker as chancellor and his bio.

Also, read the Opelika-Auburn News story about Gov. Kay Ivey swearing in four returning members to the ACCS board.

Baker Appoints Art Rousseau Director of CTE

Chancellor Jimmy Baker made other news recently with the appointment of Arthur Rousseau as the director of Career and Technical Education at the Alabama Community College System office. Rousseau joined the ACCS as the temporary assistant director of Career and Technical Programs in February 2016, and in February 2017 became the assistant director of Career and Technical Education.

Rousseau has a Master of Arts degree in Adult Education from Touro University International, an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Faulkner University, and an Associate of Applied Science from the Community College of the Air Force.

“I am confident Art will serve the system well as we all work together providing the best services to our stakeholders,” Baker said.

Rousseau’s appointment became effective May 16.


ALSDE’s Workforce Development Grows Credentialing to Benefit Students and Employers

The Alabama State Department of Education’s Office of Workforce Development is in the final leg of the third year of its Industry Recognized Credential Grant, and K-12 officials report the growth continues to be exponential. The goal of the credentialing effort is to give students a leg up on entering the workforce by giving them a credential that proves their skill-set, and to give employers a way to confidently identify potential employees.

“These are real-world credentials recommended by industry,” said Josh Laney, senior director for Workforce Development. “No ‘kiddie credentials’ or watered-down versions are eligible for consideration.”

Interested parties should go here to see the current list of eligible credentials in the “Career Readiness Indicator” column of the table. Also on that page is a general description of how a credential gets vetted for consideration to be on the list.

In the 2014-15 school year, more than 12,000 credentials were earned by students, according to Laney. In 2015-16 school year, more than 16,000 were earned. Projections for this year show the state surpassing that mark by several thousands.

The budget for this year’s grant was more than $1.2 million. “By providing the funding for the costs of the credentialing exams for all students, this grant program helps level the playing field for students in low-resource districts,” Laney said.

Pictured are students showing their certifications from the American Heart Association. Other popular certifications are from Adobe, Microsoft, ServSafe, Certified Nursing Assistant, the Automotive Services Excellence, the American Welding Society and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Training Next Generation of Utility Lineworkers

According to the U.S. Department of Energy and Scientific American magazine, America’s electric grid is made-up of more than 200,000 miles of utility transmission lines and over 5 million miles of local distribution lines. This does not include the millions of miles of underground utility lines that also exist in the U.S. today.

With such an enormous amount of utility needs, we must have skilled professionals prepared who can maintain, install and upgrade these transmission lines efficiently.

Many of the top utility companies and professional organizations in our state have partnered with the Alabama State Department of Education to offer qualified students an opportunity to participate in a new state-based Lineworker Education Program — “Climbing to New Heights: The New Professional Lineworker Education Program for Alabama Students.” It teaches the fundamentals of power line work, safety, electrical theory, climbing techniques, aerial framing and rigging, and operation of modern equipment.

According to the online resource, the average salary for skilled and certified line professionals nationwide ranges from about $67,897 to $74,521 annually (November 2016 data). Many companies also offer these professionals great benefits, overtime and bonuses.

This past school year was the very first time Alabama has offered its Lineworker Education Program to high school students. The following schools were pilot sites:

•    Montgomery MPACT
•    Randolph-Roanoke County CTC
•    Cleburne County
•    Eufaula High School
•    Chambers County CTC
•    Anniston High School
•    Tuscaloosa High School
•    Walker High School
•    Limestone County CTC
•    Clay-Chalkville High School

This new state initiative was specifically designed to introduce students to this exciting profession. Students and their parents learned about the requirements and skills needed for this career field.

For more information on Alabama’s Lineworkers High School Program, please contact ALSDE’s Specialist Bryan Upton at [email protected] or 334-242-9112.

Information is also available on the web.


Career Center Moves to Larger Office in Birmingham

The Alabama Career Center in Birmingham moved last month to a bigger, better location. The new office, at 3216 Fourth Avenue South, is near downtown and just blocks away from the old location.

To make the move, the Career Center closed its old office for the week of May 23 and reopened in the new location on May 30. Though the address is different, the phone number is the same: 205-254-1300. The center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A listing of Career Centers is available on the Department of Labor’s website,

The Alabama Career Center in Birmingham reopened in new, expanded space on May 30.

State’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.4 Percent; It’s Alabama’s Lowest Jobless Rate Since 2008

Employment in Alabama continues its impressive growth, with the state unemployment rate again falling significantly in April. The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in April was 5.4 percent, down from March’s rate of 5.8 percent, Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington announced. The unemployment rate in April 2016 was 5.8 percent.

The Department of Labor reported there were 119,256 unemployed persons in April, compared to 128,610 in March and 126,490 in April 2016. Figures show 2,088,884 people were working in April, up from 2,080,300 in March and 2,038,043 in April 2016.

“Fifty thousand more Alabamians are working now compared to last year. This represents thousands of Alabama families that now have more opportunity than before,” Governor Kay Ivey said. “I am proud they have opportunities to put their skills into action. We haven’t seen an unemployment rate this low in nearly nine years. I took office in April, and these numbers from that month confirm our message that ‘Alabama is open for business’ is being heard loud and clear.”

The last time the unemployment rate was at or below 5.4 percent was in May 2008, when it measured 5.2 percent.

Click here to read more about Alabama’s improved employment statistics.

Upcoming Job Fairs

The Alabama Department of Labor has announced regional job fairs for June and July in Gadsden and Enterprise, respectively. Employers and job seekers for either job fair should register at

June 27 — Gadsden Regional Job Fair
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
210 at the Tracks, 210 Locust St., Gadsden
[email protected]

July 27 — Fort Rucker Area Job Fair
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Enterprise High School
[email protected]


BCA and ATN Announce Winners of 2017’s Manufacturer of Year, Supplier of Year

The Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Technology Network recently announced the winners of the 2017 Manufacturer of the Year Awards during a luncheon ceremony at the Alabama Activity Center in Montgomery. In addition, BCA partner Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association unveiled the Supplier of the Year winners.

The Manufacturers of the Year in the large, medium and small manufacturer categories, respectively, are Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa County, LINE-X in Huntsville and Central States Manufacturing Inc. in Jasper.

Mercedes-Benz USI was named Large Manufacturer of the Year.

Since its beginning in 2000, the BCA and ATN award ceremony has attracted Alabama dignitaries and manufacturing leaders to honor companies that are committed to improving Alabama’s economy.

“The annual Manufacturer of the Year Awards seeks to honor Alabama manufacturers – from the largest industrial employers to the smallest businesses – for displaying efficiency, safety and excellence in their products and the process for making them,” said William J. Canary, president and CEO of the BCA. “Quite simply, manufacturing is an economic engine powering the state’s economy. Alabama manufacturers in the 21st century are leveraging technology in new and exciting ways, and the Business Council of Alabama and the Alabama Technology Network are honored to help share their stories.”

“These fine companies represent the best in Alabama manufacturing and the use of technology,” said Keith Phillips, interim president of ATN.

Also announced were the AAMA’s Supplier of the Year winners in the large and small categories, and the Service Provider of the Year. The awards are the AAMA’s recognition for automotive industry supply chain partners who demonstrate distinguished performance in quality, affordability and reliability.

The 2017 Suppliers of the Year are EFi Automotive in Limestone County in the large manufacturer category and TASUS Corporation Alabama in Florence in the small manufacturer category. Air Hydro Power in Birmingham is the winner in the Service Provider category.

ATN Helped Create Or Retain 2,131 Jobs in 2016

Last year, 2016, was a very productive year for ATN as it served 432 companies in Alabama, primarily manufacturers. ATN recently announced some of the economic impacts of its work for the year as reported by clients. They include:

Created and Retained Jobs: 2,131

Increased/Retained Sales: $130,786,627

Saved Manufacturers: $15,737,065

Workforce Investments: $28,974,677

Total Impact: $192,921,372

Federal ROI: $108.38 per dollar federal

ATN is an entity under the Alabama Community College System, and is the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership affiliate for  Alabama. ATN’s mission is to provide existing industry (primarily manufacturers) the tools, technical assistance, resources and customized training needed to grow and excel. ATN is located throughout Alabama with offices on 13 community college campuses and three research universities (UA, UAH and Auburn).

ATN conduct assessments and deliver services in areas including: Lean Manufacturing, Quality Systems, Environmental Safety and Health, Industrial Maintenance, IT, Organizational Development and Leadership Training, Engineering Assistance, and Workforce Training.

For more information, visit


Companies Announced 14,700 Jobs, $4.2 Billion in Investments in State in 2016, Says Report

Still more indicators show that both job growth and capital investments were strong last year in Alabama. The latest news: Companies announced plans for more than 14,700 new jobs and nearly $4.2 billion in capital investment in Alabama during 2016, according to an analysis prepared by the Alabama Department of Commerce that chronicles wide-ranging economic development activity across the state last year.

The 2016 New & Expanding Industry Report, released by Gov. Kay Ivey and the Commerce Department, provides a detailed look at 405 projects recorded in the state during another solid year of business recruitment and support. Since 2012, economic development activity in Alabama has attracted $24.5 billion in investment and created nearly 90,000 jobs, according to Commerce Department figures. Exact totals for 2016 were $4.199 billion in capital investment and 14,707 new and future jobs.

“Alabama continues to be one of the most attractive locations for companies from around the world, thanks to a highly engaged workforce and an overall pro-business climate,” Gov. Ivey said.

“The investments made by these companies mean jobs for the citizens of our state, and I’m committed to creating an environment where opportunity flourishes across Alabama,” she added.

The 2016 report reflects another year of strong growth for two industries that are central pillars in the Accelerate Alabama 2.0 economic development blueprint — automotive and aerospace. Both sectors contributed to a record year for Alabama exports.

Other segments of Alabama’s economy, ranging from forest products to alternative energy and corporate headquarters, also saw healthy project activity last year, according to the new report.

Read more.

Column: Don’t Forget Women in Workforce

Do workforce development strategies in Alabama sometimes harken back to era of Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady. Jeanne Jackson, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, in a recent guest column for, notes that Alabama needs more better-trained and more highly educated workers to keep up with industry needs. That, she said, means more women will be critically needed to fill the growing workforce gaps.

“We have learned that issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of mothers are complex,” she wrote. “It is not that our local employers don’t want women in skilled labor. Rather, the training programs, work environments, low-wages and childcare limitations fail to acknowledge that children are part of our world.”

Read her column.

Apprenticeship Alabama Signs Up More Companies

Apprenticeship Alabama continued its momentum last month in signing up businesses for the registered apprenticeship program and state income tax credit ahead of the May 31 deadline.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in Birmingham, with 156 apprentices, and Pro Electric Inc. in Huntsville, with six apprentices, are the latest signees.

For more information about Apprenticeship Alabama and the $1,000 tax credit available per apprentice, go to

Apprentices try a large pipe bender at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Training Center in Birmingham.


For more information or to register, click here.


West AlabamaWorks Project to Deliver Job Training to Fill Critical Workforce Needs in Automotive

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded $1,500,810 in grant funding to the West AlabamaWorks/Region 3 Workforce Development Council for the WAW 2020 Initiative. This initiative will fund the Brookwood Career Center, which will deliver job training services to fill critical regional workforce needs in the rapidly growing automotive and advanced manufacturing industries in western Alabama.

West AlabamaWorks held a press conference last month at the center to announce its opening. “This is the first regional workforce center operated by a business-led workforce council,” said Gary Nichols, chairman of the West AlabamaWorks Steering Committee. “The primary focus will be to assist those impacted by layoffs in Alabama’s coal mining industry. The center will help prepare individuals for new and existing job opportunities in healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing. We’re here to generate meaningful results.”

The center will serve as the hub of a range of workforce efforts. “We’ll connect residents with high-demand employment opportunities and training that will revitalize local economies in Tuscaloosa, Fayette, Walker, Lamar, Bibb and Hale counties,” said Bob Johnson, grant manager for the project. “A range of services will focus on families impacted directly by the slow-down in the coal industry, or indirectly if their livelihood was affected because their jobs relied on that industry or its workers.”

This historic project between rural communities, service providers, educators and industry leaders sets the tone for even further growth and development. “Not only will this aid workers in an area that has been adversely impacted by the changing economics of the regional coal economy, this project will enable us to fill workforce needs in rapidly advancing sectors,” said Donny Jones, chief operating officer for the Chamber and director of West AlabamaWorks.

The Brookwood Career Center is located at 15706 Highway 2160, across from the Brookwood Town Hall.

Click on the image below to watch ABC/3340’s coverage of the center’s opening with West AlabamaWorks Director Donny Jones.

North AlabamaWorks Team Continues Media Blitz

North AlabamaWorks’ Executive Director Micah Bullard and Assistant Director Stephanie McCulloch are continuing their media blitz of newspapers, TV and radio stations in North Alabama. The pair have visited both daily and weekly newspapers throughout the regions, and last month Bullard appeared on two Huntsville TV programs as well as talk radio.

Bullard and McCulloch are using the media blitz to promote the North AlabamaWorks and AlabamaWorks brand, and to help spread the word about the services North AlabamaWorks provides industry, job seekers and people looking for training. The blitz has resulted in about a dozen newspaper articles and editorials, TV and radio appearances.

The media blitz will continue through June.

Here are recent samples of newspaper coverage:

  • North AlabamaWorks Marks Remake of Workforce Development System.
  • North AlabamaWorks Reaches to and Partners with Industries and Job Seekers. Franklin County Times
  • EDITORIAL: Regional Focus of AlabamaWorks Beneficial. Decatur Daily
  • North AlabamaWorks Targets Education, Industry Team. Cullman Times
Micah Bullard is interviewed by WAFF TV in Huntsville.

Wallace Community College-Dothan Receives Top National Honor for Student Success

The American Association of Community Colleges recently named Wallace Community College-Dothan the number one community college in the nation for Student Success. The award makes WCCD one of five innovative community colleges named Awards of Excellence winners at the AACC national conference, held in New Orleans on April 24. The Student Success award goes to the community college that has led with purpose and intentionality in an effort to foster student success.

Read more about the award.


  • Montgomery Chamber Supporting F-35 Role for Region.
  • Gov. Ivey Announces Creation of Alabama Aviation Education Center in Mobile. Made In Alabama
  • Alabama Power and Bevill State Partner to Develop New HVAC training Center in Jasper. Daily Mountain Eagle
  • Austin-Made Parts, Signatures Headed to Space Station. Decatur Daily
  • State Leaders Support Leonardo DRS Tuskegee Plan with House Resolution. Tuskegee News
  • Chris Lewis Named Interim President at Drake State. WAAY-TV, Huntsville
  • Team Mobile Uses Assets to Rack Up Economic Development Wins. Alabama News Center
  • Massive Mercedes Expansion on Pace. Tuscaloosa News
  • Details and Renderings of New Constellation Project in Downtown Huntsville.
  • Dale Greer Takes Over Cullman Economic Development Agency. Cullman Times
  • With Teens’ Lab, Chemical Giant BASF Brings Alabama Students into the Process.
  • Seven Huntsville Companies to Share in $37.4 Billion Pentagon Contract. WAAY-TV, Huntsville
  • U.S. Labor Secretary Wants More Apprenticeships. Associated Press
  • New Law Could Help Alabama Lure More Jobs. Montgomery Advertiser
  • Three Interviewed for Shelton State Presidency. Tuscaloosa News
  • Shelton State Offers High-Schoolers Free Dual-Enrollment Classes. WVUA-TV, Tuscaloosa
  • Montgomery Chamber Launches TechMGM, Linking IT Talent to Jobs.
  • WATCO Opens First-of-Its-Kind Rail Training Center in Birmingham.
  • Forbes Names UAB and Three Alabama-Based Companies Among Best Employers in America.
  • Piedmont Student Graduates from Community College Before High School. Anniston Star
  • Number and Percentage of Workforce Ready Graduates Increased in 2016. PARCA
  • Apple Launching New App Education Program at Alabama Colleges.
  • Northeast Alabama Community College Offers STEM Program. WHNT-TV, Huntsville
  • Alabama Will Have Growth in High-Paying Jobs. Tuscaloosa News
  • Former Enterprise Mayor Sworn in as ADECA Chief. Dothan Eagle
  • Lockheed Martin Official Discuss STEM Careers at Enterprise High. WTVY-TV, Dothan

The Alabama Workforce Council
The Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) serves as an advisory body in reviewing potential policies, recommending structure and alignment, developing innovative educational workforce programming, and discussing issues critical to the workforce development needs in Alabama.