Those companies will need skilled and trained workers, and unless there is a concerted effort here to have the workers ready, companies might take their investments elsewhere.
These warnings aren’t new. Legislators and governors have been quick to advocate worker training, but the money to do it seldom matches the rhetoric that comes from Montgomery.
As a consequence, a host of different plans exist. K-12 education has its proposals. The Alabama Technology Network is coming up with ideas. Alabama’s community college system promotes its schools as the perfect vehicles to prepare workers for the workplace. State colleges and universities want to join the effort. And there is AIDT, which has been designated as the state’s primary worker-training program.
In other words, a lot of cooks are stirring the pot, so many that there is a real danger that a lot will be planned but not much will be done.
Alabama is notorious for this. Governors come into office vowing to consolidate and streamline, only to leave office with little accomplished. However, at times steps are taken in the right direction — as was the case last year when Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order merging AIDT with the Alabama Department of Commerce. Though it is still too early to see the results, worker training will be focused more on skills that are actually needed by employees if it works as planned.
But more needs to be done.
At the conference, the parties involved in worker training touted their efforts, but speaking as individual units only underscored the fact that collaboration is necessary if workers and work are matched.
Castille told the group that AIDT was working with 156 projects in 40 counties, and these projects will have job opportunities for more than 21,000 Alabamians.
Now is the time for the various organizations and institutions seeking to train Alabama workers to get together, identify the skills needed, identify programs both in and outside the state that have been successful training workers and present the state Legislature with a coordinated effort.
Then, we hope, the Legislature will come up with the money to make it happen.