Alabama One of Six States Chosen to Take Part in Work-Based Learning Best Practices Initiative

Alabama is one of six states chosen by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices to participate in a policy academy focused on work-based learning and aimed at producing a skilled workforce, Gov. Kay Ivey recently announced.

“When I announced my ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’ education initiative, I made clear my desire to give Alabamians the best opportunities possible to obtain the skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce,”  Ivey said. “I am thankful to the National Governors Association for choosing Alabama to work collaboratively with other states to develop concrete plans to develop our workforce.”

As part of the NGA policy academy, Alabama along with Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina and Rhode Island will share best practices, develop plans to identify and scale high-quality programs, and develop policies to support and sustain work-based learning initiatives. The focus will be on creating opportunities for youths and young adults, ages 16-29, to get hands-on experience in STEM industries, such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and energy.

“As our automotive, aerospace and technology sectors continue to expand, it is critical that Alabama begins preparing our people now for the work that surely is to come to our state,” Ivey continued. “Workforce development is a key factor in attracting new businesses and a critical component for encouraging existing firms to expand. Developing quality workers is so important. I am ever so grateful to those who helped secure this grant for Alabama. Their work is going to help put other Alabamians to work.”

The NGA work-based learning policy academy is funded by the Siemens Foundation. Alabama and the other five states were chosen from 16 applicant states.

For more information about the NGA Center for Economic Opportunity Division, click here.


Rescheduled for Feb. 14-15 in Montgomery

For more information on the conference, click here.

Macon County Economic Development Official Dies in Italy During Industry Recruitment Trip

We are sad to report that Macon County Economic Development Authority Secretary-Treasurer Harold Powell died Nov. 15 in Italy during a trip to lure Leonardo Aircraft to build a new manufacturing plant in Macon County. Powell was traveling with Gov. Kay Ivey, the Alabama Department of Commerce and other Macon County officials to tour the Leonardo plant.

“Harold was a leader in Macon County and the Town of Shorter,” Gov. Ivey said. “He was working to position his community to become the home of a Leonardo aircraft manufacturing facility. I send my condolences to Harold’s mother, Shorter Mayor Wille Mae Powell, his father, Harold Powell Sr., his entire family and his many friends.”

Powell also served as town clerk in Shorter and was the secretary-treasurer of the Macon County Economic Development Authority.

Read the Alabama Political Reporter story on Powell’s death.


Alabama Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week With Proclamation, Roundtable Industry Discussion

The Alabama Department of Commerce and Apprenticeship Alabama celebrated National Apprenticeship Week with a program that included the presentation of a proclamation signed by Gov. Kay Ivey and a roundtable discussion with business and industry leaders.

The proclamation ceremony featuring Apprenticeship Alabama partners was held Nov. 15 in the “Hall of Flags” at The Alabama Center for Commerce. Immediately after the ceremony, Commerce and Apprenticeship Alabama hosted a roundtable industry discussion to address the current and future needs of business and industry in regards to apprenticeship programs in Alabama.

Garfield Garner, Southeast Region director for the U.S. Department of Labor, led a discussion on National Registered Apprenticeship trends nationwide and for Alabama. In addition, Apprenticeship Alabama presented a brief update on the work it is doing to engage more companies in apprenticeship programs.

The discussion included leaders from business and industry, the Alabama State Department of Education’s Career Technical Education, the Alabama Community College System, Commerce, AIDT and other stakeholders in Alabama.

“National Apprenticeship Week is a great time to highlight the many services available to Alabamians. The ability to ‘earn while you learn’ can provide opportunities to some who otherwise wouldn’t be able to enter high-skill, high-wage industries.” said Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama secretary of Labor.

“Apprenticeships have proved time and again that they benefit not only companies but also employees. Anything we can do as a state to help both means we all win,” said Ed Castile, deputy secretary of Commerce.

The third annual National Apprenticeship Week was celebrated Nov. 13-19.

Displaying National Apprenticeship Week proclamation from Gov. Kay Ivey are, from left, Garfield Garner, Southeast regional director for the U.S. Department of Labor; Reginald Taylor, AIDT assistant director, operations and human resources; and Frank Chestnut, manager of Apprenticeship Alabama.

Two from AIDT Named Instructors of the Year

Two AIDT Maritime Training Center instructors were named Instructors of the Year by the American Welding Society Mobile Section. Donnie Jemison is a structural fitting instructor, and Tim Wilson is a welding instructor. They received their plaques at an AWS meeting Nov.  2.

Donnie Jemison, left, and Tim Wilson show their Instructor of the Year awards presented by the American Welding Society Mobile Section.


State’s Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop; 3.6 Percent Is Record Low for Alabama

The good news for Alabama’s unemployment rate continued in October as the state recorded its lowest ever jobless rate. October’s rate of 3.6 percent is down from 3.8 percent in September, which had matched the state’s previous low rate.

The past year has been an extremely strong for employment in Alabama, as the unemployment rate has fallen nearly every month. A year ago, October 2016, the state’s jobless rate was 6.1 percent.

“We had great news last month when we announced that Alabama’s unemployment rate had tied its lowest ever,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “Today, our news is even bigger! Alabama’s unemployment rate has dropped even more, registering a new record low! What we are doing is working, and as a result, the people of Alabama are working.

“Additionally, today’s numbers show that we currently have the fewest number of unemployed people in history, measuring some 77,000. But that means 77,000 Alabamians, men and women, are still without work. I will persist in my efforts to put every Alabamian who wants to work in a good-paying job by recruiting high-wage, high-skill industries to Alabama.”

October’s rate represents 77,358 unemployed persons, the lowest number ever recorded. That compares to 82,562 in September and 133,875 in October 2016.

“As we continue to see our unemployment rate drop, Alabama’s businesses continue to hire and support real jobs in our economy,” said Fitzgerald Washington, secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor. “Our wage and salary employment figures are currently at the third-highest level since we began keeping records. There are nearly 30,000 more jobs today than there were in October of last year. Through job fairs and the services provided at our Career Centers located throughout the state, we are helping employers find the employees they are looking for.”

Read AL.com’s story about the historic law unemployment rate.

Upcoming Job Fairs

To view a listing of upcoming job fairs, go online to Alabama Joblink.


Alabama Student Featured in Certification Magazine

Jasmine Robinson, a senior at Center Point High School in Jefferson County, won the esteemed state Gold Medal in Computer Networking earlier this year during the Alabama SkillsUSA championship.

This summer she went to Louisville, Ky., and competed in the official “national computer networking competition” at the 2017 SkillsUSA Championships.

Jasmine’s story was featured in an article in the Fall-October edition of Certification Magazine.

Click the image to the left to read the article.


ATN Gadsden Celebrates Manufacturing Day By Hosting Girls Employed in Manufacturing Day

The Alabama Technology Network Gadsden hosted Girls Employed in Manufacturing Day on Nov. 15 as part of national Manufacturing Day. Twenty-eight high school junior and senior girls from across Etowah County participated in a day dedicated to inspiring careers in manufacturing.

The morning consisted of hands-on activities that simulated different aspects of a manufacturing environment: an M&M Production Co. exercise related the importance of quality control; a Lean Piglet exercise proved the Lean standardized process works; the students programmed a robot to dispense a box of candy; a Safety in the Workplace demonstration showed the various types of personal protective equipment that may be necessary in a manufacturing environment; and a team-building exercise built a tall tower of cups.

Over lunch, the students participated in a Role Models Panel discussion, which consisted of local women who work or have worked in manufacturing telling their real-world stories and fielding questions from the students. The role models were:

  • Carol Gilliland, human resources director, Koller-Craft South in Gadsden.
  • Cindy Huelsman, human resources director,  Koller-Craft Enterprises, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Kiersten Dutenhaver, welding engineer, NASA Marshall Flight Center, Huntsville.
  • Darlene Waters, plant manager, Choice Fabricators, Rainbow City.
  • Deb Reynolds, electronics instructor, Gadsden State Community College.
  • Mary Vervynckt, PC&L manager, Inteva Products, Gadsden.
  • Sharon Ingle, project engineer, ATN Gadsden.

In the afternoon, the students toured Koller Craft South, a manufacturer providing plastic injection molding and electromechanical/mechanical assembly services to the appliance, automotive, lighting, telecommunications, and lawn and garden industries.

Manufacturing Day is an annual celebration created to motivate young people to learn about manufacturing.

Read the Gadsden Times story on GEM Day.

Also, click the image below to watch a video of it.


East AlabamaWorks! Holds Industry Tour

East AlabamaWorks held an Industry Tour for Region 2 on Oct. 24. Career coaches and educators saw firsthand the jobs and skills required to work at Anniston Army Depot, the second-largest employer in the region. During the day, the attendees visited the Small Arms Repair Division, fired an M2 50-caliber machine gun, road in a M1A1 tank, saw a Stryker tank refurbishment from start to finish and discussed the Career Pathways program.

Educators and career coaches saw the opportunities available for students and how they can play a part in building the workforce for Anniston Army Depot.

West AlabamaWorks! Launches Educator Academy at Worlds of Work to Bolster K-12 Pipeline

West AlabamaWorks launched another exciting project at this year’s Worlds of Work event: the Educator Workforce Academy. The academy is designed to bolster the K-12 pipeline in West Alabama. School systems have worked with West AlabamaWorks to develop a workforce and leadership academy to familiarize educators to the world of business and industry, as well as college opportunities to help facilitate the process.

Throughout the year, educators will learn about Region 3 workforce development needs with the outcome of training administrators on how to lead students through the maze of college and career opportunities.

All administrative certified leaders will receive a professional learning unit (PLU) for completion. Others will receive PD credits. This cohort will demonstrate that education and workforce development cannot succeed as separate entities, as educators have a very important role to fill.

Here are some expected outcomes:

  • Education leaders will connect schools with business and industry partners in West Alabama.
  • Education leaders will learn the specific skills necessary for successful careers in business and industry.
  • Education leaders will be able to apply the career skills, curriculum relevance and workplace skills to the curriculum in elementary, middle and high school courses.

Participants will include:

  • 2017-2018 — Principals and select central office staff (school board members as applicable).
  • 2018-2019 — Assistant principals, new principals and select central office staff.
  • 2019-ongoing — New leaders, counselors and teacher leaders.

The academy began at WOW and is now composed of two cohorts. Each cohort meets four times a year and involves tours of entities such as the Brookwood Workforce Center and industries such as Mercedes-Benz, ZF, and ARD Logistics. Topics such as “Introduction to Workforce Development,” “Employment Engagement and Career Opportunities,” “Workforce Development and the New Economy” and “The Impact of the Automotive Industry” will be discussed.

The goal is for educators will better understand workforce needs and will gear instruction accordingly. Students will have increased opportunities for on and off ramps throughout their educational experience due to better awareness of the many ways they can earn credentials of economic value. In addition, regional business and industry will have a more plentiful pool of well-qualified individuals right in their own community from which to hire.

“We need this academy to be a partnership of how we can work together collaboratively to prepare our students,” said Sandra Aldridge, a teacher in the Tuscaloosa City Schools district. “It is one thing for our teachers to prepare our students for careers and the workforce, but when the students can see it in action, it is so much more powerful. Students need to see the workforce come to their school as well as them go visit the various workforce companies on field trips. Seeing and experiencing is far more powerful than just telling.”

Speaking of Worlds of Work, West AlabamaWorks put together a video featuring highlights of WOW 2017. To watch the video, click the image below.

AWC’S Statewide Educational Attainment Committee Holds Focus Group Meetings in Region 6

The Alabama Workforce Council’s Statewide Educational Attainment Committee held two focus group meetings this week in Region 6 as part the AWC’s effort to develop a statewide strategic plan on how to to increase educational attainment in Alabama.

The focus group meetings were Tuesday, Nov. 28, at  Lurleen B. Wallace Community College’s campus in Andalusia, and Wednesday, Nov. 29, at the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce. Colleagues and partners of Southeast AlabamaWorks were invited to come and participate.

As part of Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Strong Start, Strong Finish” education initiative, the state set a statewide educational attainment goal, known as the “65 by 2025 Initiative,” focusing on preparing students and workers with the skills necessary to be successful in the modern economy. To help meet that goal, the AWC’s Statewide Educational Attainment Committee is holding regional stakeholder focus group meetings to gather information and support the development of a strategic plan. There is a specific focus on the attainment of recognized credentials and certificates.

Central Six AlabamaWorks! Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week at KAMTEK

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week and as a continued effort to help address the needs of industry in the region, Central Six AlabamaWorks held a Manufacturing Cluster meeting on Nov. 16 focused on apprenticeship models. National Apprenticeship Week is an opportunity for leaders in the business and education communities to express their support of apprenticeship programs and increase awareness of their importance to growing a skilled workforce. The United State Department of Labor began National Apprenticeship Week in 2015, and in 2016 more than 96,000 people participated in apprenticeship events nationwide.

Central Six has partnered with Apprenticeship Alabama in educating businesses on the value of registered apprenticeship programs in Region 4. In continuing this awareness campaign, Central Six AlabamaWorks hosted its most recent manufacturing cluster meeting at Magna-Kamtek Inc.

Three of Kamtek Inc.’s apprentices.

At the meeting, manufacturing businesses were given an overview of the benefits of apprenticeship programs and why they are an effective way to “grow your own” workforce to meet the needs of businesses. Kamtek made a presentation on its registered apprenticeship program, which focuses on high-demand careers, including tool and die and machinist tool technology training. In addition, Kamtek apprentices spoke directly to the group about their experience in the program, and the cluster members had the opportunity to tour the apprenticeship shop in the Kamtek facility.

Central Six will continue to support the development of apprenticeship programs in the region and throughout the state and encourages businesses to consider these programs as an opportunity to positively impact their workforce challenges. For more information on National Apprenticeship Week and to access materials provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, please visit dol.gov/apprenticeship/naw. For more information on Apprenticeship Alabama, visit apprenticeshipalabama.org.

Kamtek Inc. hosted Region 4’s Manufacturing Cluster meeting on Nov. 16.



  • Alabama to Issue Manufacturing Industry Certifications Across Two-Year College System. Inside Higher Education
  • More Clues as to Where $1.6 Billion Toyota-Mazda Plant May Land. AL.com
  • Alabama/Germany Partnership Works to Make Sure Foreign Nationals and Their Companies Feel at Home in Alabama. Business Alabama
  • Huntsville Mayor: Alabama is Ready for Amazon. AL.com
  • Alabama Works to Strengthen Economic Ties with Germany. WSFA-TV, Montgomery
  • Does Alabama Have More People on Welfare Than Are Employed? AL.com
  • Alabama Team Tours Leonardo Aircraft Factory to Advance T-100 Project. Made in Alabama
  • Steve Flowers: Community Colleges Can Push Alabama Forward. Sand Mountain Reporter, Albertville
  • Gov. Ivey Helps Observe National Apprenticeship Week. AL.com
  • Canfield: Leonardo’s Tuskegee Project a ‘”Game-Changer” for Region. AL.com
  • Meet Alabama’s Highest-Paid State Employees. Birmingham Business Journal
  • “Go Build” Campaign to Launch National Website. Engineering News-Record
  • Guest Opinion: Why the Toyota/Mazda Plant Belongs in Alabama, Not North Carolina. Yellowhammer News

Region One (North)

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne Bringing Rockets to Rocket City, Breaks Ground on New Facility. AL.com
  • $16 Million Invention Center at UAH Will Influence Future Generations. AL.com
  • Lee to Retire from Northwest-Shoals Community College. Times-Daily, Florence
  • Royal Technologies Announces $14 Million Expansion in Cullman. AL.com
  • Parsons Expanding Huntsville Facility, Adding 50 Jobs. AL.com
  • Rolling Out the Robot; Marshall County Tech Robotics Team Ready for Engineering, Science and Technology Competition. Sand Mountain Reporter, Albertville
  • Shoals Jobless Rate Drops to 3.6 Percent. Times Daily, Florence
  • GE Aviation Readies Unique Materials Factories in Huntsville. Made in Alabama
  • Bocar Picks Limestone for 300-Employee Plant. Decatur Daily
  • Alabama Unemployment Rate Drops to Record Low; Cullman’s Rises to 3 Percent. Cullman Times
  • Gemstone Foods is Moving into Vacant Plant in Florence. Times-Daily, Florence
  • Snead State Receives Industrial Technology Program Grant. Sand Mountain Reporter, Albertville

Region Two (East)

  • Gadsden State Cited as State’s Most Affordable HBCU. Gadsden Times
  • Dr. Blow Named Interim Southern Union President; Public Meetings Held. Randolph Leader, Wedowee
  • Honda’s Alabama Plant Illustrates Importance of Women in Manufacturing. AL.com
  • Upcoming Call Center Could Bring More Tech Jobs to Anniston. Anniston Star
  • App Development Courses Available Soon at Southern Union. Randolph Leader, Wedowee
  • Calhoun County Jobless Rate Up in October as State Hits Record Low. Anniston Star

Region Three (West)

  • Local Leaders Join to Promote Business Growth and Job Creation in Tuscaloosa. Tuscaloosa News
  • New West Alabama Program Exposes Educators to Industry to Help Prepare Students for Jobs. WBRC/Fox 6, Birmingham

Region Four (Central Six)

Region Five (Central)

  • New Interim President Coming for Southern Union; Town Halls Planned. Opelika-Auburn News
  • Editorial: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! Montgomery Job Fair. WSFA-TV, Montgomery
  • Briggs & Stratton Invests $12 Million, Creates 50 Jobs in Auburn. Alabama News Center
  • Manufacturer to Move Production from Japan to Auburn. Birmingham Business Journal
  • Southern Union Town Halls Focus on Strategic Planning Initiative. Opelika-Auburn News
  • Unemployment Nosedives in Chambers County. Lafayette Sun
  • Municipal Electric Authority Joins T-100 Supporters. Tuskegee News
  • Workforce Development Director Jeff Lynn Knows What Companies Want. Opelika-Auburn News
  • Hyundai, Others “Competing” for Skilled Workers. Montgomery Advertiser

Region Six (Southeast)

  • Wallace Community College Dothan Adding Mobile App Development Program. Dothan Eagle
  • Enterprise State Ranked Top Community College in Alabama. Dothan First
  • Medical Assisting Program Guides and Molds Students. Southeast Sun, Enterprise
  • Wallace Dothan Class of Almost Graduates Looks to Next Steps. WTVY-TV, Dothan
  • Adult Ed Program at Enterprise State Changing Lives Through Resources. Southeast Sun, Enterprise
  • Wiregrass Plant Makes Ballistic Attack Busters. Business Alabama
  • Enterprise State Community College Hosts Counselors’ Luncheon. Dothan Eagle
  • Lurleen Wallace Leads State in Student Success and Retention. Dothan First
  • $48M Contract Secures Local Jobs in Opp and Selma; More People Needed. Andalusia Star-News
  • More Jobs Created; More People in Wiregrass Area Workforce. Dothan Eagle
  • Plasma Cutter Developing Better Welders, Designers. Dothan Eagle

Region Seven (Southwest)

  • More Jets Made in Mobile? Excitement Abounds Despite Scant Details of New Airbus Plan. AL.com
  • Provalus Holds Groundbreaking in Brewton. Brewton Standard
  • Job Fair Held in Monroeville. AL.com
  • Mobile’s Unemployment Rate Falls to the National Average. Local 15 TV, Mobile
  • NASA Calling: Mobile Businesses Hear About Opportunities. AL.com
  • Atmore Welding Program Wins First Place in Sculpting. Coastal Alabama Community College
  • Three More Littoral Combat Ships in Latest Draft of 2018 Defense Act. AL.com
  • Hot-Dip Galvanizing Plant Opening in Semmes. Lagniappe, Mobile
  • Mobile Council Approves Incentive for Steelmaker’s Move. AL.com

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.