Manufacture Alabama and North AlabamaWorks Host Career Coaches’ Event in Decatur
Career coaches and other educators from across North Alabama kicked off their summer with a firsthand look at the highly rewarding careers offered by Alabama’s chemical manufacturing sector. The “Career Coach Day” was hosted by Manufacture Alabama and North AlabamaWorks on June 8 at Ascend Performance Materials in Decatur with the intent of providing information to educators that could then be passed along to students.
Industry representatives from the area were on hand to discuss hiring trends, career advancement opportunities and ideal candidate qualities. Similarly, the career coaches were able to ask candid questions about the work environment and how to best prepare students for a career in chemical manufacturing. Presentations and questions eventually evolved into a robust and open discussion that left all participants excited about the career opportunities available to future high school graduates.
“Educators are one of the most important aspects of our business,” said Ascend Site Director Stephen French. “It is very gratifying to have so many teachers and coaches from around our region show such an interest in getting young people started in a manufacturing career. Students are the future of our plant operations and the drivers of our economy as a whole.”
In addition to seeing the actual chemical manufacturing process during the plant tour, educators learned about an industrial culture that emphasizes safety, teamwork, innovation and new technologies. They also were given employment data, which indicates that Alabama directly supports more than 10,400 chemical manufacturing careers and that the average chemical industry worker in Alabama earns more than $82,000 per year.
Today, each Alabama school district has a designated career coach, though many who are familiar with the program say that career coaches in the state are spread too thinly – some career coaches are assigned to multiple schools and have teaching responsibilities as well. This often results in Alabama students only having access to their career coach one day per week.
George Clark is the president of Manufacture Alabama and also serves as the vice chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council and chair of the Alabama Workforce Investment Board. Clark is among those who believe the state should allocate additional funding to bolster the career coach program.
“Career coaches are such an important facet of Alabama’s K-12 system,” said Clark. “More financial resources should be made available to this program to increase its effectiveness. Industry is doing its part to invest in career coaches, and the state should follow suit. It is an investment that will pay remarkable dividends when more young Alabamians find lifelong, lucrative careers without amassing huge sums of student loan debt.”
Workforce development is routinely cited as a top impediment to growth for manufacturing companies in Alabama. More than 13 percent of Alabama’s workforce is engaged in manufacturing, which ranks Alabama fifth nationally. With a large portion of this workforce beyond or rapidly approaching retirement age, manufacturing employers are on the brink of a true crisis.
Career coaches are just one of the many ways in which Alabama is working to address the challenge of workforce development. Manufacturing companies across Alabama are hoping that the career coach program will continue to enhance opportunities for students. For now, the companies that supported Manufacture Alabama’s Career Coach Day are hoping that the educators will take their experience back to their students this fall.
Brooks McLendon, director of membership at MA, and Stephanie McCulloch, assistant director of North AlabamaWorks, share their thoughts about the tour in this video.
In addition, Manufacture Alabama’s Iron and Steel Council hosted a similar event with career coaches at AM/NS Calvert in southwest Alabama.
Auston Ricks, Fast-Track Industry Student, Wallace State Community College Shares Story
Ricks, a senior at Cold Springs High School and a Fast-Track Industry Student at Wallace State Community College, is studying machining.
Thanks to the Fast Track program, Ricks graduated high school with a diploma and an associate degree. He plans to attend Auburn University for Aerospace Engineering.
To learn more about Ricks’ experience, click the video.
- Women-Owned Company Lands $47 Million Government Contract. Alabama Today.
- Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing Makes Key Hire. Birmingham Business Journal
- Australian Company Selects Huntsville for New Facility. WTVM
- Huntsville Lands $750 Million Tech Data Center. AL.com
- Ag Center Moves Toward Construction. Times-Daily
- NWSCC Receives Grant for Student Success Program. Times-Daily
- CCC Offers New Computer Course. WAAY
- Workforce Readiness Institute to be Held in Northwest Alabama. Times-Daily
- Met-South Utilizes Apprenticeship Alabama Program. The Cullman Times
Carl Brady Joins Team
On June 1, Carl Brady joined East AlabamaWorks as workforce program manager. He comes to Region 2 after working for 31 years in the broadcast industry.
Brady has been recognized as one of the best in Alabama broadcasting and is a four-time winner of the ABBY award, which is presented by the Alabama Broadcasters Association.
A native of Gadsden, Brady lives in Alexandria, in Calhoun County. As workforce program manager, he will help to identify the workforce needs of business and industry and assist in filling those needs with a skilled, well-trained and available workforce in East Alabama.
West AlabamaWorks Expands Programs to Benefit Fayette County Residents
Recently, West AlabamaWorks officials spearheaded a meeting with representatives from Bevill State Community College, Fayette County Schools, Fayette Mayor’s Office, State Rep. Kyle South and Phifer Inc. to discuss how to best meet the community’s training and workforce needs.
The group discussed several initiatives and options available. They created a plan that would educate young people on career options other than those available via a four-year degree; offer options for students to earn while they learn; provide soft-skills and other training opportunities to students and adults; and give residents the chance to register with West AlabamaWorks’ Career Connect web-based employment portal.
The plan consists of four specific segments as follows:
Outreach Event — This will be held in September at Fayette High School. There, attendees can register for Career Connect and free job training, such as Ready-to-Work, which prepares participants to enter the job market.
Adult Ready-to-Work — In conjunction with Ready-to-Work, officials at Bevill State Community College will offer certification in conjunction with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council in the areas of production, logistics and manufacturing.
Ready-to-Work for High School Seniors — The West AlabamaWorks team modified RTW into a version for students, which will be offered at Fayette County High School this fall. Students who successfully complete the coursework will be job-ready upon receiving their diplomas.
Automotive and Modern Manufacturing Programs for High Schoolers — In partnership with BSCC, these students will have dual-enrollment opportunities to simultaneously earn a diploma and manufacturing industry credentials.
The plan will be monitored and altered as needed to fit the needs of students and employers.
To learn more, watch the WBRC video.
Hiring Fair Attracts Thousands
On May 5, West AlabamaWorks hosted its first automotive hiring fair, attracting thousands of people interested in working in the area’s booming industry. Twelve companies interviewed 1,400 people in the daylong event. To learn more, watch the video.
- Lawson State Community College Hosts New Coding Initiative for Students. CBS 42
- Birmingham Should Align Education with Workforce Development. AL.com
- Bobo Talks Career Planning. 280 Reporter
- High School Senior Finds Calling in Machine Tool Work. Daily Mountain Eagle
- Girls Get Firsthand Experience With Trades. AL.com
Kendrick Takes Apprenticeship Path to Success
After graduating from high school, Diana Kendrick decided not to go to college because she needed to stay home and work to help support her family. After several self-described “dead-end jobs”, Kendrick found steady work with Baxter, Inc. in Opelika as a quality control employee.
She said she always wanted more and wanted to go back to school but was afraid because she felt she was behind. She was notified of an apprenticeship partnership with Southern Union and earned her degree in Industrial Maintenance. She’s since been promoted to service technician.
To learn more about her story, watch this video.
Groups Partner for Broadband Accessibility
Two companies, Wiregrass Electric and Troy Cable, have joined forces to provide a fiber optic backbone for the Wiregrass area. The duo will work together to improve reliability, provide better services and save consumers money through greater efficiencies.
The project will make high-speed broadband connections available to thousands of people along the network’s route. Until now, most residents were limited with Internet service speeds, and some areas had no access at all.
The Troy Cable partnership will provide about 25 percent of WEC’s members with access to a broadband connection. This, in turn, will drive economic growth in the area via online opportunities.
New Hospitality Program Promotes Area’s Attractions, Sites and Eateries
Several organizations in Dothan have united to ensure that front-line service personnel, such as those in hotels, have a solid working knowledge of things to do and see in the area.
Named Hospitality 101, the program launched earlier this month with an initial class of 37.
To learn more, click here to watch Southeast AlabamaWorks Director Ryan Richards explain the course and expected results.
In addition, the group recently hosted its very first education caravan for hospitality employees. You can read about it by clicking The Dothan Eagle.
ESCC Launches CDL Course
Enterprise State Community College announced it will offer a commercial driver’s license program for students in the fall.
The school said it partnered with trucking companies in the region to create the curriculum for the six-week training course. It will be offered several times per year.
“The first couple of weeks they’ll be in a classroom. We’ll have a track, they’ve got to be able to manipulate and perform three different backing and driving exercises,” said Dean of Instruction Danny Long. “Before they get done with us, they’ll be on Highway 231 going up and down the highway.”
Photo: State Sen. Donnie Chesteen, ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker, ESCC President Matt Rodgers, State Rep. Steve Clouse, Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting and Southeast AlabamaWorks Director Ryan Richards announce the new CDL course during a recent press conference.
Read more at WSFA.
- Sisters Graduate from Nursing Program. WTVY
- High-Tech Lab Opens New World for Students. The Dothan Eagle
- Scholarships Available for Non-Traditional Students. The Andalusia Star-News
- Houston County Students Excel at Underwater Robotics Competition. The Dothan Eagle
- Wallace-Dothan Gets Workforce Money from Legislators. WTVY