Last Friday, members of the Alabama House of Representatives Labor Shortage Study Committee visited the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa production facility. The visit included presentations from Mercedes-Benz and West Alabama Works, an industry panel on workforce participation and concluded with a tour of the production facility.
Since its formation in October 2023, the ad hoc committee has worked diligently to identify barriers to workforce entry and craft measured legislation to overcome Alabama’s workforce participation rate, one of the lowest in the nation.
“The success Alabama’s economy is experiencing, especially in contrast to the rest of the country, is nothing short of amazing,” said House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter. “Our continued growth largely hinges on the state’s ability to overcome one lingering challenge – Alabama’s labor shortage. For the last several months, a House study committee, chaired by Rep. Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road, has identified several contributing factors and taken an outside-of-the-box approach to developing possible solutions.”
Chairman Reed Ingram, R-Pike Road, highlighted the advantages of leveraging public-private partnerships to encourage Alabamians to seek employment.
“Overcoming our labor shortage isn’t something the state can do alone,” said Chairman Reed Ingram. “It’s imperative that we continue to collaborate with our private partners and utilize the resources and expertise they bring to the table.”
“We’ve taken a close look at what’s deterring Alabamians from working. For many, it isn’t a lack of desire to secure gainful employment. It’s barriers like the rising cost of childcare, transportation, affordable housing and education. In the coming session, we will propose legislation that is the result of the committee’s work to address some of these issues, the first being childcare tax credits,” added Ingram.
Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce has also worked to develop initiatives aimed at reimagining Alabama’s workforce development strategy and improving Alabama’s labor force participation rate.
“Since taking office, much of my effort has been focused on improving, streamlining and modernizing Alabama’s workforce development system, and increasing the number of participants in the job market is an important part of that initiative,” said Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth. “Alabama’s economy is among the strongest in the nation, but in order to continue our success, employers must know we have an ample supply of qualified and available workers ready to fill their jobs.”
West Alabama Works Executive Director Donny Jones recognized the importance of examining best practices from across the state.
“We applaud the committee’s work and their willingness to look at best practices from across the state. There are many impactful programs and organizations doing great work throughout Alabama, and realizing this is a numbers game, we must focus our limited resources on results that produce a significant impact on Alabama’s non-participant rate,” stated Donny Jones, Executive Director for West Alabama Works.
Mercedes-Benz President and CEO Michael Goebel touted the company’s mutually beneficial partnership with the state of Alabama.
“We are proud to host this group and continue our long-standing partnership with the State of Alabama and West Alabama Works,” said Michael Goebel, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. “Continued dialogue with our elected officials is important so that we can share the needs of our industry, but also share our ideas and best practices which could be scaled to support the entire state of Alabama on this topic.”