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Work-Based Learning Meets Needs of Alabama Industries and K-12 Students

Yellowhammer News
By: Josh Laney
Senior Director for Workforce Development – Alabama State Department of Education

According to Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama added more than 32,000 jobs in 2017. Coupled with a continuing wave of retiring baby boomers and a low unemployment rate, it is easy to see how a workforce shortage could develop. It is also apparent that the future has never been brighter for Alabama’s yearly 50,000-plus high school graduates.

High job demand in lucrative fields provides the opportunity to establish careers in Alabama. Shining brightly among careers, advanced manufacturing offers students the opportunity to stand out through innovation, which 32 percent of Alabama high-schoolers identified as their primary work value. However, even with excellent earning potential, high employer demand and direct alignment with students’ work values, not enough students are entering the manufacturing field.

To read more, click here.

Alabama Adds 20,000 Jobs Over the Year; Experiences Increased Wages

Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington recently announced that over the year, Alabama’s wage and salary employment increased 20,100, with gains in the leisure and hospitality sector (plus 4,400), the professional and business services sector (plus 3,400), and the education and health services sector (plus 3,400), among others.

Wage and salary employment increased in March by 12,600, compared to February 2018. Monthly gains were seen in the leisure and hospitality sector ( plus 4,600), the professional and business services sector (plus 2,500), the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (plus 1,900), and the construction sector (plus 1,600), among others.

Mackey Named State School Superintendent

By Trisha Powell Crain

The Alabama Board of Education named Eric Mackey as the new state superintendent of education today. Mackey received five votes out of nine. He will start his new job May 14.

His contract will be negotiated and voted on at the May 10 regular board meeting.

Mackey is well known to board members, having served as the executive director of the School Superintendents of Alabama since 2011. The SSA advocates on behalf of schools and school superintendents in the Legislature and is the professional organization for superintendents and their leadership teams.

Click here to learn more.

Workforce, Education Leaders Outline Plans for Filling Thousands of Jobs at New Auto Plant

We are all proud and excited to have Mazda Toyota Manufacturing USA, Inc. coming to Alabama. It’s more positive recognition for our state as a leader in business and industry. Plus, it’s great news for our economy. The plant alone is expected to require 4,000 people to run its operations. And, therein lies the question: Where will we get those people?

Recently, several key AlabamaWorks leaders participated in a forum hosted by the Alabama Automotive Manufacturing Association to address that looming question. Each provided information from his area of expertise on filling these positions — and backfilling the jobs that people will vacate to go to the new plant.

First, Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington shared the good news of Alabama’s extremely low unemployment rate of 3.7 percent. Alabama also has the fifth-lowest veteran unemployment rate in the country at 2.2 percent.

This is great news for those who are seeking employment; however, it is challenging news for employers seeking to fill jobs. To help close the gaps, the ADOL is taking jobs to the people, Washington said.

“We recently held a job fair at the Mobile Civic Center, with early admission for veterans. We had people lined up, waiting for the doors to open, with numerous employers in attendance,” said Washington. “Such events will continue to take place around the state.”

While north Alabama will soon be feeling the positive impact of a large automaker, the western side of the state has already experienced it, via Mercedes-Benz. Donny Jones, director of West AlabamaWorks and executive director of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, provided insight into what’s being done in his area to support automotive and other industries.

The region’s progress stems from a multi-pronged approach including the following areas: education and programs, policy, funding, and industry clusters.

“One of our signature events is Worlds of Work. It’s a hands-on experience that exposes eighth-graders in our nine-county region to careers that require less than a four-year degree. We’ve assisted other regions in developing this type of event in their areas, too,” said Jones. “The program has been extremely well-received. We have created WOWVarsity for ninth-graders and WOW2.0 where the students actually interview for jobs.”

West AlabamaWorks has also created the Educator Workforce Academy. Designed for principals, teachers and superintendents, it takes the educator on an in-depth journey into business and industry and includes plant tours. While there, they see and hear about hiring and skills needs, directly from the employer.

In addition, West AlabamaWorks operates a mobile career center unit that it takes to rural areas. Other initiatives include the West AlabamaWorks Workforce Center in Brookwood, which focuses on logistics training and other needs; and CareerConnect, a job-plus-employer-plus-training-plus-potential employee database initiative. “We have a plethora of programs and opportunities designed to ultimately unite employer and employee,” added Jones.

Next, Josh Laney, senior director for workforce development for the Alabama State Department of Education, told the audience what his agency is doing to plant the seed that not everyone should get a four-year degree.

“We believe that education and workforce development are relative to each other,” said Laney.

To begin the process of helping students understand what’s available, they are surveyed about their career interests. “Manufacturing usually ranks very low, since these kids have never seen the inside of a plant and don’t know the opportunities that are available,” Laney added.

Preparing kids for the workforce entails the education components of hard skills, career awareness and employability skills.

“Common types of work-based learning include internships, job shadowing, coop placement, apprenticeships,” he said.

In the Alabama Community College System, Workforce and Economic Development Vice Chancellor Jeff Lynn also outlined his organization’s multi-pronged approach to filling the thousands of expected automotive jobs.

“We are focusing on getting our people nationally-recognized certificates and credentials, such as Ready-to-Work, and from groups like the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, the National Center for Construction, Education and Research, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills Inc. and the American Welding Society,” said Lynn. “We have embarked on a marketing campaign to promote the certificates as a means of obtaining a quality job in automotive and other industries.”

These program credentials also have benefits for the company that will hire these employees. “They will have a pipeline of skilled workers, decreased recruitment costs, eliminated remedial costs and time, and increased profits with improved safety performance, quality and productivity,” he added.

According to Lynn, the ACCS is targeting a number of workforce sources, including dual enrollment; adult education; military; traditional students; the existing workforce and those involved in corrections training. “All of these pools have the potential to produce certified workers.”

While the ACCS is providing credentials and certificates, the Alabama Department of Commerce — specifically AIDT — is tasked with directly assisting Toyota-Mazda in the screening, training and hiring process.

“We have many, many partners who are working with us to help these ventures succeed,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Director of AIDT Ed Castile. “These are both public and private agencies. It takes everyone.”

Based on previous endeavors, like Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Hyundai and Airbus, the workforce for Toyota-Mazda will encompass a large area. “We expect people to drive in from Tennessee for these quality jobs. On the flip side, we also anticipate Alabamians who are currently commuting to positions in Tennessee to shorten their drive and work closer to home,” added Castile.

Of course, there are those who will leave their present jobs with Alabama companies to take positions with Toyota-Mazda. “We will also help those companies backfill their open positions. We are here for both new and existing industries,” he said.

Alabama has a defined, proved plan to help businesses that come here to stay here and hopefully expand here. From the K-12 system and regional workforce councils to the ACCS and AIDT, the state and private business have laid the foundation for present and future success.

Ivey Signs Legislation to Create Technical School

Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law SB212, sponsored by state Sen. Arthur Orr and state Rep. Anthony Daniels, which creates the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering in Huntsville. She also signed HB175, the state’s Education Budget.

Click here to read more

Toyota Technician Shares Story of Finding Success Through Calhoun’s FAME Program

The auto industry continues to expand in Alabama, creating thousands of jobs for years to come. The state’s community colleges are training students to fill these high-wage, high-demand positions.

At Calhoun Community College, for example, students can apply to participate in the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education’s advanced manufacturing technician program, a two-year technical associate degree that combines cutting-edge curriculum that supports advanced manufacturing technology and paid working experience with top manufacturers.

Edgar Hernandez participated in the FAME program and is now a Multi-Skilled Maintenance Technician at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Watch Edgar share his story here.

Lawson State Boasts Top-Ranked Nursing Program

In the next five years, it’s projected that Alabama will need more than 9,000 nurses to meet the state’s healthcare needs. Alabama’s community colleges, particularly Lawson State Community College, are training nurses and many other healthcare professionals for this and other high-demand careers. See more here.



  • AIDT to Handle Hiring for Toyota-Mazda Plant. WHNT
  • Growth Spurt Increases Options for Auto Workers. Made in Alabama
  • Plant Will Pull Suppliers Northward. The Randle Report
  • Google Breaks Ground in North Alabama. Made in Alabama
  • Students Get Exposure to Area Careers. The Decatur Daily
  • Managers at GE Share Teaching Duties. News Courier



WOW! Is a Success

Judging from the many sponsors, volunteers, students, schools and presenters and the 46 committee members who worked to put it together, this year’s Worlds of Work was a tremendous event. Check out one of the activities by clicking this link.

Here are some WOW statistics:

  • Ninety-two schools were represented by 7,337 students.
  • Ninety-one volunteers made presentations encompassing more than 125 careers.
  • Seven counties — Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Randolph and Talladega — were served.

Planning has already begun for WOW 2019. If you want to be involved, then please call Lisa Morales at 256-231-5160, ext. 19, or email her at


  • Welding Program Trains and Empowers Single Moms. JSCC


ATN-MA Lean 101 is a Success

The Alabama Technology Network and Manufacture Alabama held their first joint Lean 101 at Central Alabama Community College in Sylacauga on March 20. Participants say it was a huge success.

Lean 101 is a full-day course with a large hands-on simulation component. Participants – who ranged widely in both site seniority and lean familiarity – gained knowledge of continuous improvement methods and principles and put them into practice through simulated production. Data was recorded, results were tabulated and the benefits of continuous improvement were clearly demonstrated.

Manufacturers have benefited from ATN’s training courses for years, but this is the first time that ATN and MA have partnered to provide the training to MA members. More courses will be offered throughout the year, so stay tuned for future dates and locations.



  • Shaw Expands. Andalusia Star News
  • Project Could Bring 100 Jobs to Abbeville. WTVM
  • Local Unemployment Rate Dips Below Four Percent. Dothan Eagle
  • MRS Leaders Share Vision of Employing More Than 200 at Taylor Call Center. Dothan Eagle
  • International Beams Gears Up for Full Operation. Dothan Eagle



  • STEM Education Shapes Our Future. The Department of Energy
  • The South Dominates Economic Development. The Randle Report
  • Prognosis is Upbeat for Manufacturing The Randle Report
  • Alabama is the South’s Auto Capital. PRI

About AlabamaWorks!
AlabamaWorks is a network of interconnected providers of workforce services, including all of the governmental, educational and private-sector components that train, prepare and match job seekers with employers.

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