Career Tech Gets Boost From Rep. Roby on Floor of U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) recently spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of career and technical education. Supporting CTE helps connect students with rewarding careers and boosts local economies by enhancing the workforce, said Roby.

Congresswoman Roby’s speech was in support of legislation in the House to reauthorize funding for career tech programs at community colleges, vocational schools and high schools. In her speech, Roby highlighted her recent visits to successful career tech programs in Tallassee, Geneva, and Dothan.

“My state of Alabama is blessed with a strong network of community colleges offering a wide array of career training,” Roby said. “They are working hand-in-glove with industry to make sure the training matches the jobs that will be waiting for students when they complete their courses.”

Roby also spoke of efforts to dispel unfair and unhelpful mischaracterizations of careers in the skilled trades.

“When it comes to higher education, we all know there has been a silent stigma attached to not completing an academic degree at a four-year university. For years, we were afraid to say that college isn’t for everybody, when the truth is career tech programs can actually lead many Americans to a better quality of life,” she said.

“Mr. Speaker, we have an opportunity to take the next step in career and technical education today. The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act will help equip our students with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to start their careers. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass this legislation and support our future workforce.”

H.R. 2353, the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21 Century Act, authorizes $5.9 billion for career tech programs over the next five years, with an additional $1.2 billion in 2023. The bill also simplifies the application process, provides greater flexibility to program administrators so they can adjust to changing needs, improves accountability requirements to ensure programs deliver results, and ensures a limited federal role in education.

To watch a video of Roby’s speech, click the image below.

Roby also authored a column on career technical education that ran in The Montgomery Advertiser. Read it here.

Alabama Iron & Steel Council Hosts Career Coach Day at Nucor Steel

Nearly 40 high school career coaches and other educators gathered at Nucor Steel in Birmingham on June 14 for a “Career Coach Day” hosted by the Alabama Iron & Steel Council (AISC). Industry representatives and human resource professionals were there to discuss one of the primary challenges that really keep them up at night: an aging workforce coupled with severe shortcomings in new, skilled candidates. Similarly, the career coaches were able to ask questions about how to better prepare high school students for a career in iron or steel manufacturing.

“This idea of bringing together career coaches and HR managers from manufacturing facilities is a critical element to the success of the system that has been established,” said George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama and vice chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council. “The AWC recommended to the Legislature that funding be made so that each school district have a career coach. Once that was accomplished, the missing link was a connection between industry and the career coaches. This is where we will really see the return on the career coach investment.”

The Career Coach Day was the first event of its kind in Alabama. Clark and others at the event said it is a model that should and will be replicated throughout the state.

“This was a perfect forum for our career coaches and industry representatives,” said Antiqua Cleggett, executive director of Central Six AlabamaWorks, who helped organize the event. “Increased interaction with business and industry and a better understanding of work environments, career opportunities and required skills will increase the positive impact that we are already seeing from the work our career coaches are doing.”

Most of the career coaches were from the Birmingham area, but some came from other parts of the state where iron and steel manufacturing has a significant presence. They gained insight into what career advancement in iron or steel manufacturing looks like. They learned about the average “teammate” as they are often called, who has been at his or her facility for more than a decade and earns more than $90,000 per year.

“This is not your grandfather’s mill,” said Franky Griggs, vice president and general manager at Nucor Birmingham, as he described the industry as a whole. “Over the last several years, we have taken so much of the manual labor aspect of iron and steel making away. We don’t do it like we used to. We’ve added new equipment and automated processes that make the job easier and safer.”

Jim Proctor, senior vice president and general counsel of McWane, Inc., is chairman of the Alabama Iron & Steel Council. “As an industry, we face various challenges on all fronts, but workforce development is one that is so fundamental to our success and to the overall health of our economy,” Proctor said. “We were thrilled by the high level of interest from career coaches across the state. Some had to be turned away because we could not accommodate all of the requests to participate, but we hope to reach more career coaches in the future as we look to serve as a resource to those who play such an important role in shaping our young students.”

The Alabama Iron & Steel Council operates independently under Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, O’Neal Industries, Outokumpu Stainless, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Blastcrete Equipment Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, M&B Metal Products, OMI-Bisco Refractories, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas, Southern Alloy Corporation, and Taylor Machine Works, Inc.


State’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.9 Percent, Continuing Strong Employment Growth

Alabama’s unemployment picture continued to improve in May, dropping to 4.9 percent — a half percentage point lower than the previous month. It’s the state’s lowest jobless rate since March 2008, before the Great Recession.

“Over the past three months, our unemployment rate has fallen by an impressive 1.3 percentage points,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “May’s figures represent the lowest unemployment rate in more than nine years and more people working now than in the last 10 years. It is a team effort, and I sure am proud this rate decrease occurred during my first full month in office. We will continue to exhaust every effort and explore every opportunity until every Alabamian who wants a job, has a job.”

May’s 4.9 percent unemployment rate is down from April’s 5.4 percent, and nearly a full percentage point from April 2016’s rate of 5.8 percent. The number of unemployed Alabamians fell by nearly 12,000, going from 119,113 in April to 107,364 in May.

Also impressive is the number of employed Alabamians, 2,089,217, as measured by the Current Population Survey. That’s the highest employment figure since March 2007

“Fifty thousand more people have jobs now than they did last year,” said Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “Increased confidence in our economy is evidenced by not only that fact, but also that our employers are reporting the highest wage and salary employment numbers in almost a decade. In fact, this is the fourth highest wage and salary employment count since we started keeping records in 1939.”

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

Gadsden Regional Job Fair Features 3,200 Jobs

Gov. Kay Ivey was on hand to officially open the Gadsden Regional Job Fair on June 27. About 800 job seekers attended the Regional Job Fair, which featured 100 employers with more than 3,200 jobs available.

The Alabama Career Center System, in partnership with WBRC/Fox 6 News and the City of Gadsden, hosted the job fair, held at 210 at the Tracks in Gadsden. Some of the employers who took part in the job fair were American Apparel, Decatur Plastic Products, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Honda North America, Huron Valley Steel, KTH Leesburg Products, law enforcement agencies and the U.S. armed services.

Gov. Kay Ivey and Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington greet job seeker at Gadsden Regional Job Fair. Click image above to watch Gov. Ivey’s video.

Upcoming Job Fairs

The Alabama Department of Labor is holding a large regional job fair on July 27 in Fort Rucker. Please see the flyer below for more information. Employers and job seekers should register at

For a listing of other job fairs, please visit

Job Fairs and Readiness Workshops to be Held for Golden Dragon Copper

The Alabama Career Center System, partnering with other area agencies, will host a series of job readiness workshops and job fairs in Thomasville and Butler to fill open positions at Golden Dragon Copper in Pine Hill.

Golden Dragon is hiring for dozens of positions at its Pine Hill plant. All applicants must have a resume. Resume assistance will be provided at the job readiness workshops or at the Demopolis or Jackson Career Centers prior to the job fairs.

Here are the times and locations for the workshops and job fairs.

Job Readiness Workshop
Tuesday, July 18, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
Thomasville Civic Center
559 W. Front Street N., Thomasville

Job Fair
Thursday, July 20, noon – 5 p.m.
Thomasville Civic Center

Job Readiness Workshop
Tuesday, July 25,  9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
Choctaw County Board. Of Education Bus Shop
698 East Pushmataha St., Butler

Job Fair
Thursday, July 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Warehouse
212 North Academy Ave. Butler

Staff from area Career Centers will conduct the training, which will cover topics such as résumé preparation, interview skills and how to “dress for success.”

The workshops are free and open to all who are interested, but registration is strongly encouraged. Please contact the Demopolis Career Center at 334-289-0202, the Jackson Career Center at 251-246-2453, or Wilcox Works at 334-682-6366 to register or for more information.

These events are hosted by the Alabama Department of Commerce, the Alabama Department of Labor/Alabama Career Center System, Alabama Cooperative Extensions, Choctaw County Board of Education, Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce, Choctaw County Commission, City of Butler, Clarke County Economic Development Agency, Thomasville Chamber of Commerce and Wilcox Works.


Success Story: ATN Helps Streamline Henry Brick Sample Board Process

The Alabama Technology Network shared this recent success story in solving a problem for an Alabama company. Here’s the story:

Company Profile

J.D. Henry founded the Henry Brick Co. in 1945 with one goal in mind: to take the rich clay of central Alabama and produce brick of unmatched beauty and unsurpassed quality.

For more than 65 years, family-owned Henry Brick Co.’s unique product line has been renowned throughout the Southern, Eastern and Midwestern United States. Henry Brick is located in Selma and employs approximately 60 people.

The Challenge

In order to be successful, the brick industry must ensure that product samples are available in showrooms for potential customers to view. The process of manufacturing and supplying the sample product boards at no charge to vendors and showrooms across the nation must be completed in an efficient manner. During the sample board manufacturing process, a growing source of revenue known as thin brick is produced. Demand for the thin brick product is expected to increase in the future.

Due to the rising demand for all brick samples and the thin brick product, in particular, the company needed to streamline its sample board manufacturing process.

The Solution

ATN lean practitioners worked with company employees to conduct a three-day Cellular Manufacturing Kaizen Event. All company participants were educated on the of five-step cellular process and the team participated in each of the five steps.

Step 1: Group products.

Step 2: Assess demand and determine task time.

Step 3: Review work sequence (conduct time studies).

Step 4: Combine work in balance process.

Step 5: Design cell layout.

The Results

  • Reduced operator travel distance by 3,864 feet/day.
  • Reduced picking time from 4.5 minute/sample to about 2 minute/sample.
  • Reduced assembly time by 3 minutes.
  • Created a  schedule tool to balance operation based on demand.
  • Increased sample production by more than 40 percent for the two sample products studied
  • Increased thin brick production by 10 times, resulting in $20,000 in increased revenue without hiring additional staff.


“Henry Brick Company benefited greatly from the Kaizen Project performed by the Alabama Technology Network. Brandon and the staff at ATN were professional and knowledgeable. We highly recommend using ATN for these type projects.”
— Ray Mathews, Sample Room Supervisor

For more information about the Alabama Technology Network, visit


News Stories and Media Blitz Continue to Build AlabamaWorks Brand Recognition

Alabama’s newly restructured and revamped workforce development system went pubic in November 2016 with well-covered media events in Birmingham and Montgomery. Television stations, newspapers, online media and business magazines ran prime stories touting the new AlabamaWorks as the go-to, centralized starting point for everything workforce related — from industry looking for workers, to job seekers looking for work, to students and other individuals looking for a promising career.

Since then, the AlabamaWorks brand has continued to grow. A paid advertising campaign featuring TV, radio, newspaper and Internet ads launched in early spring and blanketed the state. That was followed by more localized ads focused on AlabamaWorks’ seven regional components, promoting them as the go-to place in each region for workforce development assistance.

In addition, public events and announcements by the industry, state and education partners that are at the heart of AlabamaWorks continued to make headlines around the state. These included, as just a few examples, large regional job fairs organized by the Department of Labor, industry/government partnerships and new programs involving the Alabama Community College System, K-12 and AIDT.

Recently, Hank Price, general manager of WVTM/Channel 13 in Birmingham, did a special editorial praising AlabamaWorks. Click on the image below to watch it.

Another element in building the brand recognition of AlabamaWorks and the Regional Workforce Councils are media blitzes and tours that began this spring in North Alabama. Following on the success of the North AlabamaWorks media blitz, which resulted in more than a dozen newspaper articles, television stories and guest appearances on TV and radio featuring Executive Director Micah Bullard and Assistant Director Stephanie McCulloch, the roadshow recently hit Southeast Alabama.

In the past month, Southeast AlabamaWorks Executive Director Ryan Richards and Direct Communications’ Suzanne Anderson visited five Wiregrass-area newspapers. They are Elba Clipper, Southeast Sun, Opp News, Luverne Journal and the Troy Messenger. Read the Troy Messenger story here.

Richards also was featured on TV news. Click the image below to watch a newsclip featuring Richards’ interview.

The Southeast AlabamaWorks media blitz will continue in August.

For more information or to register, click here.


ACCS Launches Statewide Effort to Address Manufacturing Skills Gap

Alabama has more than 3,000 open manufacturing jobs due to the lack of core job skills required to work in manufacturing. Companies have been compensating for workers that  lack these skills by developing their own internal job skills training. Manufacturers that cannot afford to take this approach end up with high attrition rates, which are very costly and have negative impacts on their key performance indicators, such as safety, efficiency and quality.

To address the manufacturing skills gap in Alabama, the Alabama Community College System is implementing the Manufacturing Skills and Standards Council’s (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification program at all of the community colleges across the state. More 40 instructors have been authorized in the  past two months to begin instruction, and several colleges are planning to begin programs as early as this summer and into the fall.

“Our business and industry partners across the state provide us with consistent feedback that finding qualified workers ranks as one of their top concerns in achieving success.” said Jeff Lynn, vice chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development for the Alabama Community College System.

“Our hope is that this initiative will provide those students with the necessary skills and training to go immediately to work for one of the many manufacturers in our state offering them a good quality of life and a rewarding career or leads them to further their education in one of the many career pathways that the MSSC CPT credential supports, such as engineering, automation, electronics, industrial maintenance and welding,” said Jimmy Baker, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council is an industry-led training, assessment and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line production and material-handling workers. The CPT certification addresses the core technical competencies of higher skilled production workers in all sectors of manufacturing. Students obtain knowledge and skills in the areas of:
  • Safety
  • Quality Practices and Measurement
  • Manufacturing Processes and Production
  • Maintenance Awareness.

Candidates who pass all four modules receive the Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification.

MSSC CPT has been endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers for the core skills of all production workers and is accredited under ANSI-ISO 17024 (Personnel Certification), making it the only national certification body globally with this designation for manufacturing.

ACCS Offering New Initiatives to Fill High-Demand Needs in Healthcare Professions

Healthcare occupations are one of the top high-wage, high-demand jobs in every workforce region of Alabama. To address this need, the Alabama Community College System is offering several new health-related program initiatives that could potentially impact large numbers of students and fill workforce needs in multiple healthcare professions, especially nursing.

As part of a new initiative to improve nursing education and workforce production, ACCS has partnered with Jacksonville State University to create an improved environment for faculty and students. A part of this partnership is the creation of a career pathway for nursing students to progress in their academic careers and reach higher levels of achievement within various levels of the nursing profession. This pathway is currently offered at two ACCS schools: Gadsden State Community College and Snead State Community College.

ACCS is also working on possibly expanding healthcare career pathways in a relationship with the Alabama State Department of Education and JSU to fill other high-wage, high-demand careers such as respiratory therapy and occupational therapist assistant.

TechMGM Launches Security+ Boot Camps

TechMGM, a collaboration between local industry, education and government, is holding a second class of CompTIA Security+. The course is offered by the Alabama Community College System and is being delivered in a boot-camp-style format preparing students to test for the Security+ certification as quickly as possible.

The Security+ Boot Camp began July 10 in downtown Montgomery and takes four weeks. The course, held Monday through Thursday, prepares students to attain the CompTIA Security+ certification, which is one of the most sought-after qualifications for IT workers looking to work with the military.

“There’s a vast pool of locally talented IT professionals who are inclined to do business with the Department of Defense, or a defense contractor,” said Charisse Stokes, chairman of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s TechMGM Task Force. “If you don’t have a security clearance, you can’t apply.  We felt this was the best practice for the business technology talent in our community to make that first step.”

The first Security+ class consisted of 15 members and concluded June 28, resulting in students prepared to take the CompTIA Security+ exam. “We answered the call from our community, bringing industry recognized certification courses to the Montgomery area to assist with unfilled IT positions,” said Barry May, deputy director of workforce and economic development for the state’s community colleges.

For more information on TechMGM and training, go to


Brookwood High Building Demolished to Make Way for Training Center

Crews this summer demolished part of the former Brookwood High School in Tuscaloosa County to make way for a new workforce training center. The new center is funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to the West AlabamaWorks/Region 3 Workforce Development Council for the WAW 2020 Initiative. The center will provide job training to fill workforce needs in the automotive, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality and other industries in western Alabama.

Its primary focus will be to assist those impacted by layoffs in Alabama’s coal-mining industry by helping prepare individuals for new job opportunities. West AlabamaWorks is partnering with Shelton State Community College, the Tuscaloosa County and Tuscaloosa City school systems and others in the venture. Although part of the high school was torn down, other parts of it will be renovated and fitted with up-to-date industrial training equipment.

Newman Technology Partners With Apprenticeship Alabama, Northeast Alabama CC

Newman Technology of Alabama Inc., an expanding automotive parts supplier in Albertville, recently became one of the newest partners of Apprenticeship Alabama.

“In efforts to grow our technical team, NTAL is excited to partner with Northeast Alabama Community College and the State of Alabama in support of the apprenticeship program,” the company said in a statement. “Realizing the shortage of skilled trade workers in Alabama, NTAL will be one of the groups to ‘fix’ the shortage of skilled trade groups for the automotive industry.”

Newman Technology is one of four operating divisions of Sankei Giken Kogyo Co. Ltd of Japan in North America. It supplies door sash, exhaust systems and window trim products to OEM manufacturing facilities in Alabama and surrounding states. The company broke ground on its original 140,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in 2012, is nearing completion of its third building phase and recently kicked off yet another building phase.

Newman Technology said its growth has presented a challenge in finding qualified technicians who can perform and support its technical teams. “We believe that this partnership will allow NTAL, Northeast Alabama Community College and the State of Alabama to be a leader nationwide in producing qualified technicians for our industry,” the company statement said. “NTAL’S strong technical group will be a perfect fit for teaching and training the next generation of trades men and women.”

For more information about Apprenticeship Alabama, go to

Apprenticeship Alabama Manager Frank Chestnut, third from left, joined Newman Technology officials and apprentices for a signing ceremony at the company.


  • Alabama Foreign Investments Top $1.5 Billion in 2016, Creating 3,250 Jobs. Made In Alabama
  • Polaris to Transfer Iowa Product Lines and Jobs to Limestone County. Decatur Daily
  • RUAG Bidding on Contracts That Could Bring More Jobs. Decatur Daily
  • RUAG Space Opens in United Launch Alliance Facility, Brings Jobs. WHNT-TV, Huntsville
  • Walmart Has Big Plans for Alabama This Year. Alabama News Center
  • North AlabamaWorks Looking to Bring Leaders to Table. Moulton Advertiser
  • Gov. Kay Ivey Invites Southern Tech Students to Alabama: ‘Tell ’em Kay Said C’mon.’
  • University of Alabama to Partner with Airbus. Birmingham Business Journal
  • Walmart Distribution Center on Target for 2018 Opening; Company Expands Elsewhere in Alabama.
  • Amazon to Open $30 million Distribution Center in Mobile. Yellowhammer News
  • Hubbell Power Systems Investing $19 Million in Leeds Manufacturing Facility.
  • The Biggest Employer in Every Alabama County.
  • GATR Investing $7.5 Million in Huntsville Expansion, Doubling Workforce.
  • Alabama Wins Silver Shovel Award for Economic Development. Made in Alabama
  • Gov. Ivey Signs Bills to Improve Alabama’s Business Climate. Alabama News Network
  • New Coalition Wants Public Involved to Support Fort Rucker. Dothan Eagle
  • AAA Cooper Thrilled Over Recognition by Forbes as a Top Employer. Dothan Eagle
  • Huntsville Named America’s Fastest-Growing Tech Town.
  • Hyundai’s $135 Million Alabama Investment Puts It Among a Handful of U.S. Manufacturers of Heavy Power Transformers. Business Alabama
  • North AlabamaWorks Helps Pair Employers With Job Seekers. WZDX-TV, Huntsville
  • Drake State Offers New Apple Coding Course. WZDX-TV, Huntsville
  • New Jobs Coming to Autaugaville. Alabama News Network
  • Dynetics to Build Aerospace Facility in Morgan County. Decatur Daily
  • Amazon Center in Mobile Could Have Regional Impact; Hiring May Start in Late Summer.
  • Alabama’s Most High-Demand Jobs Ranked.
  • Business Grants Available for Training. Andalusia Star-News
  • Alabama Workforce Training Center Construction Trades Training (with video). WBRC/Fox 6, Birmingham
  • Redstone Hosts STEM Educators Tour. WAFF-TV, Huntsville
  • Alabama Department of Labor Wins $1 Million Federal Grant.
  • After the Paris Air Show, Alabama Team Targets Aerospace Projects. Made In Alabama
  • Baldwin County Targets Aerospace Growth at Paris Air Show. Made in Alabama
  • Trump Signs Executive Order on Apprenticeships. The Hill, Washington, D.C.
  • Job Readiness Workshop Held in East Alabama. WBRC/Fox 6, Birmingham
  • Alabama Poised to Win Jobs Under Trump, Says Site Consultant.
  • Old Brookwood High School Becoming New Career and Technical Training Facility. WBRC/Fox 6, Birmingham
  • Wallace Celebrates Extremely Successful Year. Dothan Eagle
  • They’ve Got Skills: Training Program Prepares Students for Future. St. Clair News-Aegis
  • Public Buy-In a Key Factor for New Career Technical School. Times-Daily, Florence
  • OUR VIEW: Industrial Development Agency Restructuring a Positive Move. Gadsden Times
  • Southeast AlabamaWorks Brings Workforce Aid to Pike County. Troy Messenger

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.