Gov. Kay Ivey recently announced a plan to grow Alabama’s skilled-labor pipeline by 500,000 workforce-ready employees by 2025. The Success Plus Initiative addresses Alabama’s increasing need for workers with certificates, credentials or degrees in addition to high school diplomas.
By 2025, Alabama will need to add 500,000 high-skilled employees to the workforce in order to fill existing industry’s labor needs and compete for new businesses, according to a recent report produced by the Alabama Workforce Council’s Statewide Educational Attainment Committee.
As the Kamtek Training Area Leader, I see firsthand how beneficial the Apprenticeship Alabama program is both to our company and to the employees who use the skills they learn throughout their careers. Our manufacturing company utilizes the Apprenticeship Alabama program via the AlabamaWorks initiative.
We have two registered apprenticeship programs: Tool and Die and Multi-Craft Maintenance. Currently, we have 40 apprentices between the two programs. The apprentices learn skills from the partner community college and other people in the field to gain insight into why a job is done a particular way. This was the reason tool and die apprentice Austin Smith decided to apply for the apprenticeship. The nearly five-month apprentice learns from jouneyman toolmakers and assists overhead crane operators in their job responsibilities.
Alabama’s high-quality, voluntary First Class Pre-K program recently was named the highest quality state-funded pre-kindergarten program in America. This is the 12th year in a row the state’s voluntary pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds has received this distinction.
The title was bestowed on Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program by the National Institute for Early Education Research in its 2017 State of Preschool Yearbook. The State of Preschool Yearbook is an annual report measuring the quality of state-funded early childhood education programs across the country. In this year’s report, NIEER’s 15th edition, Alabama was one of only three states, along with Michigan and Rhode Island, to meet or exceed all 10 of the benchmarks NIEER measures to determine program quality.
Gov. Kay Ivey announced that Alabama’s wage and salary employment measured 2,039,200 in March, the highest since December 2007.
Over the year, wage and salary employment increased by 24,600, with gains in the professional and business services sector (plus 7,700), the leisure and hospitality sector (plus 4,700) and the construction sector (plus 3,400), among others.
Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted April unemployment rate is 3.8 percent, unchanged from March’s rate, and well below April 2017’s rate of 4.8 percent. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, 2,086,659 people were counted as employed in April, an increase of 19,877 from last year. April’s rate represents 83,208 unemployed persons, compared to 81,166 in March and 104,027 in April 2017.
Key is Wallace State’s 1st National SkillsUSA Officer
By Tiffeny Owens
When Wallace State Community College student Maci Key graduated Hayden High School, she says she didn’t even know how to believe in herself.
That’s despite having thrived as a dual-enrollment student at Wallace State, making the drive to Hanceville three nights a week for college courses in the Machine Tool Technology Department after her high school classes were over. She enrolled her junior year in high school after something her teacher said sparked her interest in the male-dominated career field.
“It was something along the lines of ‘women are very good in this field because they pay attention to detail,’” Key said. “Since then, I’ve learned a lot about who I am and how I can develop, not only through my technical field, but my personal skills as well. I’ve continually had to step out of this box that I’ve put myself in.”
Her persistence and dedication to personal achievement have already broken down barriers. This past year, Key became the first Wallace State Lion to earn a national officer role as the current National SkillsUSA secretary.
Central High School in Tuscaloosa hosted an automotive hiring fair on May 5 organized by West AlabamaWorks. But this was not a standard hiring fair. This event was more like a “speed dating” interview/hiring engagement event, with 1,414 individuals attending. Some 198 individuals from outside the region attended, most of them from Jefferson County.
More than 1,400 interviews took place with the 12 companies. More than 700 job offers were made — contingent on drug tests, background checks and additional training by the employers.
Currently, all candidates are being tracked in West AlabamaWorks Career Connect system. Drug tests and background checks are being performed by the companies.
This newly strategized process also allows those individuals who were not offered a job at the event to participate in additional interviews with other suppliers and companies within in the pipeline, as well as the opportunity to attend Ready To Work and MSSC training in West AlabamaWorks pipeline process.
The Career Center also had more than 400 WIOA applications filled out with an additional 200 handed out for completion. The Career Center has already started qualifying those individuals and fielding calls. All 12 suppliers were given On The Job Training (OJT) paperwork to start the process within their companies.
By noon on the following Sunday, all the candidates were contacted via email and text. By 8 p.m., all available RTW orientation classes were filled. In fact, West AlabamaWorks had to schedule several additional classes, and within two hours, more than 198 individuals had registered.
In the current job market, 65 percent of jobs require a two-year degree or advanced technical training. Being able to compete for these jobs will require a clear understanding of the skills and education needed to be successful. In order to help better prepare students for high-wage, high-demand careers, Central Six AlabamaWorks, AIDT and SkillsUSA partnered to present the Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA on April 24-25.
WOW at SkillsUSA was more than just your typical career fair. More than 3,500 eighth-grade students from school systems within Jefferson, St. Clair and Shelby counties as well as students competing at SkillsUSA were offered an opportunity to experience the region’s high-demand industries up close. Each hands-on exhibit was designed to showcase the many high-skill, high-wage local career opportunities. Through interactive displays provided by nearly 70 companies, technical training programs, universities and community colleges, the event provided real-world simulations of available career options leading to livable wages in our community.
In addition to assisting students in their career development, this event created dialogue and direct engagement from industry to their future talent supply.
“WOW at SkillsUSA was great exposure for the manufacturing industry and a great vehicle for our company to engage with eighth-grade students and SkillsUSA competitors alike,” said Lee Higginbotham of Precision Grinding, Inc.. It was interesting to hear what the middle school students already understood about steel and machining, and that knowledge was amplified when we had the opportunity to talk with the SkillsUSA students. Precision Grinding enjoyed being a part of this event, and we want to continue to support it. With this event, we are planting seeds for tomorrow.”
Josh Caton of Alabama Associated General Contractors encourages others to get involved, “The Worlds of Work Career Expo at SkillsUSA was a huge success,” Caton said. “We are thankful Central Six created this opportunity for industry in this region to interact with their students. The Alabama AGC supports all the Worlds of Work events across the state and believes in their success. We encourage not only construction companies, but all industries to participate and help encourage students into CTE programs to begin their career pathway. We are excited about the success of the Birmingham WOW and look forward to building on it in the future.”
Representing St. Vincent’s Health System and the Project Corporate Leadership B Strong Team, Dana Meginniss said, “Working with AIDT and Central Six Workforce Development Council on Worlds of Work has been a vision come true. Whether it is helping a child determine a career path they never even knew existed, providing both students and parents with awareness about various job opportunities through the Student Destination Guide, or providing employers with a way to connect with the up-and-coming generation, the opportunity to make a difference in so many different ways is always a great thing. From an employer standpoint, it is very rewarding to hear some students say, ‘I want to work for THAT company’ and realize that whether their direction is college or career/tech, they have a future. It was an honor to work with the wonderful team at AIDT and Central Six, and I can’t wait until next year.”
Event sponsors that provided support and commitment include: the Birmingham Business Alliance, Altec, Kamtek Division of Magna, GO BUILD Alabama, Wiregrass Construction, CMC Steel Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Alacare Home Health & Hospice, BBVA Compass, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, John & Louise Beard, The Onin Group, and Robins & Morton.
Central Six is grateful for the exhibitors, volunteers and WOW at SkillsUSA Steering Committee for their dedication and effort to engage the region’s students, invest in their future and foster opportunities that will impact Alabama’s economy in the years to come. It looks forward to hosting the event again next year.
Second-generation Bevill State nursing graduate David Long says the individualized training at the community college not only gave him the education and skills training he needed, but taught him to be compassionate with his patients. David is now a registered nurse at UAB Hospital in Birmingham.
Learn more about David’s story by watching his video.
Region Five will host two Career Discovery Expos over the next 12 months. The Career Discovery Expos focus on providing eighth0grade students the hands-on activity that helps them to discover many different career options.
Business and Industry will convene on two different host campuses and have exhibits with activities to share with students to help them learn about the career pathway.
Southern Union State Community College will host the first Career Discovery on Sept. 13-14.
Trenholm State Community College will host the second Career Discovery Expo in April 2019, providing an option for logistical accessibility for students on the other side of the region.
Rod Cater, chairman for the Southern Union event, is already planning the expo. Plans are already underway to host the upcoming event.
Robin Ricks, human resource specialist at Hyundai Power Transformers USA, INC., has accepted and agreed to chair the Trenholm State Community College event.
Central AlabamaWorks look forward to continually working with business and industry by connecting available training, possible funding opportunities and resources with employers to ensure the pipeline of workforce is available and sustainable.
In addition, Central AlabamaWorks invites business and industry to join its industry clusters. The clusters give the participants opportunities to express their needs, share best practices and develop solutions to address the needs within the clusters, and network with other representatives in their field.
The cluster meetings immediately follow the quarterly regional council meeting.
Please contact Lisa Gaither at 334-318-2602 or [email protected] for more information.
Wallace Community College in Dothan has been working with Keystone Foods in Baker Hill to address its training needs through a recent Existing Industries Training Program grant.
WCCD personnel worked with representatives from Keystone to customize a motor control curriculum focusing on improving employees’ maintenance and troubleshooting skills.
The community college is also utilizing a grant from the Alabama Craft Training Board to provide skills upgrade training for new and incumbent workers at commercial and industrial electrical businesses in the Wiregrass area.
The course, which is free, delves into OSHA training, principles of safety and electrical fundamentals, wiring and installation methods, and national electrical code calculations.
Anyone interested in these programs can contact Joe Johnson, director of workforce development, at 334-556-2390 or [email protected].
In addition, Wallace State is offering certificates as a logistics technician associate, a logistics technician and a production technician. The credentialed programs are available through grants from the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.
Those who complete the CLA credential are guaranteed an interview with multiple local businesses. Walmart, one of the companies guaranteeing an interview, also provided funds to market the program.
To learn more about this program, call 334-556-2203.
By David Wofford
Washington County Career Tech Director
It is that time of year again for Washington County schools. The K-12 world is busy preparing for graduation ceremonies and going-away parties. All the hard work of students and teachers is about to pay off, as graduates are propelled to the next level.
Two years ago, the school system made changes to the local career and technical education programs. This year, students, teachers and businesses have reaped the benefits of those changes.
After surveying students’ interests and local needs, system officials converted the business program to health science. This change contributed to students securing certified nursing assistant internships with home health care services, and 16 seniors were pinned as CNAs.
Five internships with Tate and Lyle were also awarded.
Changes were also made in the system’s industrial maintenance classes. A partnership with Coastal Alabama Community College resulted in the first dual-enrollment pipefitting program in Alabama. Six seniors were awarded scholarships with local community colleges.
All 17 graduating students from the pipefitting program were offered positions at Ingalls Shipbuilding. Additionally, eight students have been hired full time or as summer interns at AM/NS Calvert. Safety courses were also provided for all CTE students, courtesy of AM/NS Calvert.
Although there is much left to do, Washington County schools are on the way to improving the lives of students and providing them with viable study and career options.
Region 7 Headlines
Dr. Jill Biden Delivers Commencement Address at Bishop State Commencement. FOX10-TV, Mobile
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.