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Opinion | Why we value AlabamaWorks

Tony E. Wojciechowski, Robin Ricks and Hyundai Power Transformers USA

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It’s a good time to be living in Alabama. Our economy is booming. Our unemployment rate is reaching record lows. People are getting jobs and the training they need. Companies, like ours, are expanding. Our state, and our people, are prospering.  

This is great for us as a whole, but it can be challenging for businesses like ours. The competition for employees is fierce. We needed an avenue to help us get an edge in the recruiting world. This is when we discovered the Alabama Workforce Council.

The AWC is a group composed primarily of business representatives that seeks to close the gaps between open jobs, training and qualified employees. It includes the Alabama Community College System, the Alabama Department of Commerce, including AIDT, the Alabama Department of Education and the Alabama Technology Network. The AWC does this primarily through AlabamaWorks.

AlabamaWorks is comprised of seven workforce regions around the state. Each region hosts quarterly meetings in its geographic area to bring all groups together, like the AWC, but they also have several business and industry clusters to further assist those sectors with particular challenges.

We have found many benefits by being involved in our regional division, Central AlabamaWorks. As active participants in the advanced manufacturing cluster, we are able to share our needs and network with our peers to discuss which processes are working and which ones need improvement.

Central AlabamaWorks is not only providing resources for today, but they are also working toward strengthening the future of our workforce pipeline by hosting two Career Discovery Expos in our region. It has been our pleasure to volunteer to support the mission of Central AlabamaWorks through the Career Discovery Spring Expo, April 4-5 at Trenholm State Community College. 

In addition to talking with our peers, we get the opportunity to learn about financial reimbursement programs, such as on-the-job training, and the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, which provides federal dollars directly to the trainee. Outstanding resources are also available through Apprenticeship Alabama.

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AlabamaWorks even has a website, www.alabamaworks.com, which provides a venue for us to post jobs or paid apprenticeships, search resumes and list our free training programs. Best of all, it is free for both the employer and those who are seeking training and/or employment.

What’s great about AlabamaWorks is that it continues to evolve to meet our state’s needs to be competitive now and in the future.  With the roaring economy and record number of people employed, Gov. Kay Ivey saw a need to determine exactly how many certified and degreed individuals our businesses would need for their workforce of today and tomorrow. She formed a special subcommittee of the AWC to study this and make recommendations to determine this number and to formulate a pathway to make it a reality.

Through data collection, research and focus groups, the special committee determined that the state would need an extra 500,000 highly-skilled individuals added to our workforce by 2025. This initiative, entitled AlabamaWorks Success Plus, was published and presented to Ivey earlier this year.

Like everyone else, we have busy schedules. But, we make time to attend and actively participate in AlabamaWorks’ quarterly summits and cluster meetings. We believe it is worth our investment and think you will, too. Visit the website to learn how your company can benefit from AlabamaWorks’ programs, opportunities, networking and resources.

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