A new report warns that a gap is widening between Alabama’s workforce development system and expected workforce needs. It calls for increased collaboration and alignment between business, education, and career and technical training programs to better define what skills and credentials a highly skilled worker in Alabama needs.
The Business Education Alliance of Alabama included these findings in its latest report, Education Matters. Dr. Joe Morton, BEA’s Chairman and President, unveiled the report today during a gathering of the Alabama Workforce Council.
Education Matters is the first in a series from BEA evaluating Alabama’s workforce development system. The current edition provides a review of critical data points in the education to workforce pipeline. It also outlines numerous recommendations state policymakers should address to ensure Alabama has a highly qualified pool of workers in the future.
“Our state is facing a critical juncture in our efforts to redesign our workforce development system to better prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. “In order to give all Alabamians a strong start and a strong finish, it is imperative that we know what is working well in our workforce pipeline and where we can do better. I am grateful for the Alabama Workforce Council’s and BEA’s leadership and collaboration in undertaking this task.”
The report measures Alabama’s progress towards its goal of preparing 500,000 highly skilled workers by the year 2025. This goal represents the number of workers the state expects to need to compete for new industries and replace retiring workers successfully.
“Alabama is on pace to have a shortage of close to 200,000 highly skilled workers by 2025-2026 if nothing changes in the workforce development pipelines,” said Dr. Joe Morton, the chairman and president of the Business Education Alliance of Alabama. “Our report sought to discover whether the state has the right tools in place to produce an increased number of highly skilled workers, and what needs to change to ensure those workers are qualified for the jobs that will become available.”
Education Matters highlights how the state’s various education achievement measures, such as the state’s low third-grade reading proficiency and the nation’s worse National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) math and reading scores, impact Alabama’s ability to prepare students for success in college and their career. The report calls for new investments in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program, a more targeted effort to improve reading and math foundational skills, and increased collaboration with community partners to improve student outcomes.
The report also looks at the state’s career and technical education programs. Similar to the report’s recommendation to establish a better educational foundation for students, Education Matters encourages policymakers to develop a more meaningful college and career readiness measurement. It also encourages local communities to convene new conversations on what career pathways, credentials, and certificates are needed locally.
“Education Matters is among the first to detail what measurements an effective education to workforce pipeline must include,” said Tim McCartney, the chair of the Alabama Workforce Council. “Although the state has an ambitious goal of training 500,000 highly-skilled workers by 2025, BEA’s report shows that we must do more to prepare workers than try to reach a target number. It is equally important the workers gain the critical skills they need to be competitive in the workplace as Alabama strives to be even more successful in the future.
Additional findings can be viewed at https://beaalabama.com/research/