West AlabamaWorks! Hosts WOW for Record Crowd; Construction Wins Best World

The fourth-annual Worlds of Work Career Expo took place at Shelton State Community College, exposing more than 5,000 students to high-paying, competitive jobs in West Alabama. Eighth graders in the nine-county region experienced WOW as a field trip, sparking their interest in various careers before their career preparation class in ninth  grade. High school students were invited to return to WOW with their parent/guardian at WOW Varsity, an evening event that allowed students to engage with employers.

Watch students in the healthcare world successfully perform CPR here.

“This was more than just brochures. Students actually practiced electric wiring, delivering a baby or using construction equipment, all with industry professionals.These industry professionals want to make relationships with our students and parents to help build their future workforce,” said Donny Jones, executive director, West AlabamaWorks.

Worlds included in WOW were agriculture, construction, education, energy and utilities, engineering and environment, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing/automotive/logistics, public safety and transportation.

For the second time, the Construction World, led by Gary Nichols, president/COO of McAbee Construction, and Tim Harrison, owner/president of Harrison Construction, took home the trophy for Best World. Construction activities allowed students to hammer, learn about plumping, see the building process, direct a crane and even weld. Past world winners other than construction include healthcare in 2017 and energy/utilities in 2015.

people from west alabama accepts trophy

Photo: Gary Nichols of McAbee Construction (far right) joins Harrison Construction’s Josh Johnson, Lance Wyatt, Wanda Hannah, Leah Crowe and Eden Lindsey in accepting the award for Best World.

Seventy Complete First Educator Workforce Academy in West Alabama

More than 70 superintendents and educators graduated from West Alabama Works’ Educator Workforce Academy Friday, Oct. 12 during the WOW Career Expo at Shelton State Community College.

The Educator  Workforce Academy is a state-recognized initiative created in West Alabama, and this class was the first cohort. Educator Workforce Academy fellows spent a year meeting with leaders in industry and workforce development throughout the region. Their key takeaways included enforcing workforce skills such as soft skills, teamwork and attention to detail in coursework. They used these takeaways and more to review curriculum, such as including skills like reading for information and applied mathematics

“West Alabama has many competitive industry careers, but before the Educator Workforce Academy, most of our region’s educators hadn’t toured a plant. The Educator Workforce Academy helps connect our educators to jobs for our region’s students. Some of these jobs require four-year degrees, while many require a two-year degree or on-the-job training. Regardless, we’re eliminating the disconnect between industry and education,” said West AlabamaWorks Executive Director and Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama COO Donny Jones.

The 2018-2019 class of 101 leaders in education began its Educator Workforce Academy training at WOW.

west alabama educators pose for picture

Governor Ivey Announces New Employment and Job Records

Governor Kay Ivey recently announced that Alabama has again broken employment and job records. In September, wage and salary employment reached a record high, and the number of people counted as working was also a record high, for the fifth month in a row.

“Not only are we experiencing record high employment, this month we’ve also broken another record – our economy is currently supporting the most number of jobs in history!” Governor Ivey said. “September’s job count of 2,048,000 bypasses the previous record of 2,045,800, which was set in December 2007.”

Click here to read more.

Unemployment numbers displayed on Alabama state map

Hoover City Leaders Announce the Opening Date for Riverchase Career Connection Center

Hoover City Schools leaders have announced an August 2019 grand opening for the system’s newest school, the Riverchase Career Connection Center (RC3). The high-tech career center will feature all-new simulated workspaces showcasing innovative collaboration between and among education leaders, city officials and business/industry partners.

RC3 will serve students at both high schools in Hoover City Schools: Hoover High School and Spain Park High School. Five programs will anchor RC3 in its initial year of operation, including building science, cyber innovation, culinary arts/hospitality, fire/emergency services and health science.

riverchase center building

To emphasize the simulated workspace experience, students will be treated as “employees” while on the RC3 campus. There will be an application and interview process. There will be no bells; flexible scheduling will be adjusted by staff on a weekly basis. Students will clock in and clock out of workspaces. Industry partners will establish workplace rules and provide real-world mentors. There will be an emphasis on soft skills.

Scheduling will allow for two shifts per day: morning and afternoon. Students will select shifts best complementing their home campus needs. Shuttle buses will transport students between RC3 and their home schools, or they may drive to RC3. This flexible scheduling setup will allow students to continue extracurricular involvement at their home schools. English and mathematics courses will be integrated into the career programs (regular to AP/dual enrollment).

Possible electives for RC3 include health/driver’s ed; Spanish for the Workplace; X-Build Team; and Small Business Management. Any sophomore, junior or senior student enrolled in Hoover City Schools with a particular interest in the skilled trades/professional career fields may apply for RC3.

Senator Richard Shelby Announces Grant for the Alabama Community College System

Senator Richard Shelby announced that the Alabama Community College System has been awarded an Appalachian Regional Commission grant in the amount of $1,750,000. This grant funding is a part of the Alabama Skills Training to Support Real Opportunities for New Growth project, which will target the coal-impacted communities in 10 counties in the state of Alabama.

“Promoting workforce development is vital to the overall growth and development of our state,” Shelby said. “This ARC grant will provide opportunity for students interested in entering Alabama’s advanced manufacturing industry while also allowing businesses throughout our state to have increased access to a highly skilled workforce. I look forward to continuing to work with ARC and the Alabama Community College System to promote education and economic advancements.

Click here to read the entire story.

North AlabamaWorks! Hosts Its First-Ever WOW Event at NWSCC

North AlabamaWorks held its inaugural Worlds of Work career expo for eighth grade students on Thurs., Oct. 25 and Fri., Oct. 26. The event, which was hosted by Northwest Shoals Community College, helped students learn about different career opportunities by demonstrating hands-on activities in which they participated.

Dr. Wanda Colagross, president, NWSCC, was delighted when the North AlabamaWorks team approached her about having the event on campus. See her and hear more of her thoughts about WOW here.

More than 3,500 eighth grade students from school systems in the Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Marion and Winston counties attended the two-day event. There were interactive displays from more than 100 local companies in different industries like manufacturing, healthcare, construction, hospitality, cyber/information technology and transportation/agriculture.

students at worlds of work event

“This event gave our students the opportunity for a hands-on experience in many trades and sectors. It opened their mind to career options that are beneficial to our society now and in the future,” said Jon Hatton, superintendent, Lauderdale County Schools.

High school students and their parents attended WOW on Thursday afternoon to learn about local career opportunities with businesses in the Shoals area.

“We are so appreciative of our exhibitors and volunteers for their dedication to the students,” said Micah Bullard, executive director, North AlabamaWorks! “Whether it is teaching a kid about a job they did not know about or connecting the employers with the younger generation, this event hopefully made a difference in these communities.”

You can also read more in the Florence Times-Daily.


North Alabama Works logo


  • Site Being Readied for Google Data Center. TVA
  • Blue Origin Wins Rocket Contract. AL.com
  • Toyota Produces First Next-Gen Engine. Alabama News Center
  • Billions in New Projects are Coming to North Alabama. WAAY
  • Northwest Shoals CC Increases Workforce Education Offerings. Times-Daily
East Alabama Works logo

East AlabamaWorks! Hosts Meeting and Panel Discussion With Leaders

During the East AlabamaWorks quarterly workforce meeting, speakers from several different industries throughout the state of Alabama shared their thoughts on the state of Alabama’s workforce, present and future. The workforce panel included Tommy Glasscock, assistant state superintendent for the Alabama State Department of Education; Jeff Lynn, vice chancellor for the Alabama Community College System; Tim McCartney, chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council; and Mike Oatridge, vice president of manufacturing at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama.

people sitting at table at east alabama meeting

These four speakers gave their individual insights on the development of the workforce in Alabama. Some of the panel topics included underserved populations, education systems in Alabama and the use of partnership on the state and local level.


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Central Six Alabama Works logo

Central Six Hosts Two Apprenticeship Workshops With Non-Traditional Employers

Based on the positive feedback received during preliminary apprenticeship conversations during cluster meetings earlier this year, Central Six hosted two half-day workshops for employers focused on developing apprenticeship programs. On October 1 and October 2,  Central Six partnered with Dr. Pam Howze with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions to bring local employers together in manufacturing and information technology to highlight the benefits of apprenticeships and explore the possibility of creating models for the Central Six region. To provide a unique employer perspective, Central Six also invited Chris Harrington with Apprenticeship Randolph (a consortium manufacturing apprenticeship in North Carolina) and Chris Magyar with Techtonic Academy (the first Department of Labor registered apprenticeship in software development in Colorado) to speak with local employers about their experiences and give insight.

On Monday, October 1, Central Six hosted the manufacturing apprenticeship workshop at KAMTEK, along with nine manufacturers from the Central Six industry cluster. The first half of the workshop included an overview of work-based learning models by Howze, as well as a detailed presentation on the development of Apprenticeship Randolph, a machining-focused program, by Harrington. The second half of the workshop focused on discussion and brainstorming, allowing the employers to ask questions of the experts, as well as talk through what would work best for their region. The consensus in the room was to explore in more depth the possibility of developing a consortium-style apprenticeship, where employers partner together and share in the responsibilities of hosting an apprenticeship. This model has been successful in other regions throughout the country, providing opportunities to employers who may have not otherwise been able to participate in work-based learning.

people speaking at central six apprentice workshop

On Tuesday, October 2, Central Six, in partnership with Innovate Birmingham and Birmingham Business Alliance, hosted a similar apprenticeship workshop, but instead focused on information technology employers. The workshop was hosted at Innovation Depot and included seven employers, such as software development and insurance companies. At the workshop, Magyar shared the Techtonic Group Apprenticeship Program, a paid, six-month apprenticeship that focuses on software development. By the end of the meeting, the IT employers were also interested developing a consortium-style apprenticeship focused on IT industry professions. This would be the first registered IT apprenticeship in the state of Alabama.

Due to the success of these workshops, Central Six will be following up with both industry sectors soon to discuss next steps including curriculum, potential funding sources, and sponsor opportunities. Central Six looks forward to the next steps in implementation to further expand apprenticeship programs in central Alabama.

If you have any questions or if you are a manufacturing or IT employer in the Birmingham region and have interest in joining the apprenticeship conversation, please contact Kristen O’Keefe at [email protected] or 205-719-3243.

Central Six, Federal Reserve Bank Host First Educator Workforce Academy

Central Six, in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta-Birmingham Branch, kicked off its first Educator Workforce Academy on October 12. The nine-month long academy will focus on helping superintendents and career and technical education directors become familiar with the world of business and industry as well as gain a better understanding of high-demand, high-wage post-secondary training opportunities. Providing  educators with an opportunity to learn about and experience careers that exist in today’s local economy through facility tours, dialogue with industry representatives and current labor market information will enable them to help students navigate the maze of college and career opportunities.

During this inaugural meeting, attendees were given an overview of the Burning Glass Report which highlights top industries and job projections in the region over the next decade. The educators also heard from the Governor’s Office about the AlabamaWorks Success Plus education attainment plan and the role the region will play in supporting credential attainment.

people speaking at central six workforce academy

A Federal Reserve Bank representative presented a labor market analysis on opportunity occupations, and a panel of representatives from business, academia and government discussed topics such as: increasing technical and soft skills credentials for high school students, educating parents about the industries of today, and youth apprenticeship opportunities.

Central Six is excited to kick off this program and provide our educators with resources that will help increase college and career workforce preparedness for the future talent supply across the 6-county regional area.


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Groups Partner for Automotive Conference

Recently, Central AlabamaWorks and the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers of Alabama partnered to host a day-long event designed to help auto suppliers, particularly those who conduct business with Hyundai, understand the resources and tools available to them in attracting, training and retaining talent.

Watch Mikki Ruttan, director of Central AlabamaWorks, talk more about the event here.


Southeast Alabama Works logo

Two Join the Southeast AlabamaWorks! Team

Southeast AlabamaWorks is proud to announce that two new people have joined its team.

Ann Marie Carr has been hired as the organization’s program manager and will assist Director Ryan Richards in coordinating, implementing and executing all workforce development efforts in the counties of Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties. Her first day will be October 16.

“I count it a privilege and an honor to join such a talented group of people that are dedicated to developing the workforce in the state of Alabama,” said Carr.

She has specialized in employment relations, with nine years of experience in workforce development solutions. She has worked in career centers in the southeastern area, gaining experience in industry clusters like IT, government, education and business.

Previously, Carr served as a customer care consultant for H&M Food Equipment and Sales Service Inc. There, she generated marketing opportunities and assisted with human resources processes. Carr received her BS degree in special education from the University of Alabama.

ann marie carr portrait
katie thomas portrait

Katie Thomas joins  as the new business and industry relations manager. In this position, she will be responsible for implementing, managing and facilitating strategies for high-demand industry clusters and supporting workforce needs of employers in 10 counties.

“With so many new businesses and industries expanding into southeast Alabama, it’s an exciting time to be working to help those employers and our citizens connect in a mutually beneficial way. I am humbled by the opportunity and excited to see how we can elevate this area’s workforce,” said Thomas.

She has an accomplished background, previously serving in leadership positions with Auburn University and Alabama Power. Thomas has gained an extensive knowledge of community relations and workforce development with a strong grasp on the southeastern Alabama area.

Thomas has an extensive list of community service projects, such as serving on the Alabama Power Service Organization Board and the Southeast WOW Planning Committee. Thomas graduated from Pike Liberal Arts School, with honors, in 2001 and Troy University in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism.

“We are thrilled to have Katie and Ann Marie on board, as we know they will bring fresh perspectives and a wealth of experience to our team,”said Richards.


SAWDC Alabama Works logo

Groups Partner to Help Close Skills Gaps

As part of its mission to unite education and businesses to develop a qualified workforce, SAWDC AlabamaWorks has established initiatives with Bishop State Community College and the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce in the areas of multi-craft trades and hospitality.

With a WIOA grant from the Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment, BSCC’s workforce development department will create a Fix-It multi-trades course in conjunction with the Home Builders Association of Metro Mobile and Cockrell’s Body Shop. The Fix-It program will serve youth, ages 17-24, from low-income homes in Workforce Development Region 7. The initial five-week trades orientation will consist of academic assessments, National Center for Construction Education and Research Core certifications, preparation for the National Career Readiness Certificate, job readiness skills, financial literacy training and drug and alcohol awareness.

Fix-It participants can then choose a five – 25 week program, allowing participants to earn the NCCER Level I certifications in carpentry, painting, plumbing, and electrical. Auto body repair participants will earn an Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair Certification as an auto body repair technician. The auto body repair module is focused on the I-CAR curriculum. Additionally, participants will receive a per diem of $20 for class attendance and a one-time $300 allotment after six weeksto purchase tools and equipment after passing a drug test.

In addition to working with BSCC, the SAWDC team has also established a hospitality initiative with the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce. On October 3, they, as part of their Gateway Initiative, hosted staff members from the national offices of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, National Restaurant Association and the American Culinary Federation to introduce three newly created apprenticeship programs for restaurant, lodging managers (including vacation rental) and chefs.  Supported by the US Department of Labor and AlabamaWorks, apprenticeships are a powerful solution that equip workers with the skills needed to drive the success of a business.

The event was attended by more than 30 businesses including Perdido Beach Resort’s Penny Groux.  “Apprenticeships offer our business an excellent opportunity to grow the bench strength of our managers.  Also, apprenticeships give us the opportunity to work with local schools and take advantage of tax incentives,” she said.


Statewide Headlines

  • Governor Ivey Calls for Enhanced STEM Education. AL.com
  • Governor Ivey Announces Initiative with HBCUs. AlabamaNewsCenter
  • Secretary DeVos Praises Business/EducationPartnerships. AL.com

National Headlines

  • Dual Enrollment Provides a Connection for Students from Low-Income Homes. Education Dive
  • Manufacturers Have Almost 500,000 Job Openings. The Randle Report

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.