A new advisory group that will formulate policies, develop innovative educational workforce programming and discuss issues critical to the workforce development needs in Alabama will be chaired by Zeke Smith, Alabama Power’s executive vice president for External Affairs.
Gov. Robert Bentley recently signed the law approved by the Alabama Legislature creating the Alabama Workforce Council. The council of business and industry leaders will make policy suggestions, inform educators of job needs, and make recommendations to the state school superintendent and two-year college chancellor on what is necessary to ensure Alabama’s skilled workforce remains competitive.
“It is important there is an open dialogue between industry and education,” Smith said. “I’m optimistic the council will make a difference helping our educational leaders develop a robust workforce that can step right in and fill the needs of industry and business.”
The idea for the Alabama Workforce Council came from the Governor’s College and Career Ready Task Force, a group of education, business and industry leaders who collaborated on addressing the challenges of producing a skilled workforce that can appeal to new and existing companies today and in to the future.
Specific advisory duties of the council include:
- Reviewing ways to streamline and align the existing workforce development functions of the state.
- Evaluating best ways to increase awareness and educate students on available opportunities in industry sectors.
- Evaluating private/public partnerships to create industry-funded scholarship programs for community colleges, vocational programs, and dual enrollment programs.
- Evaluating standards for membership and operations of the state’s existing 10 regional workforce development councils.
- Evaluating and making recommendations to realign the counties that comprise a regional council, as required to meet the needs of employers.
“There is nothing more important than job creation,” Bentley said earlier this year. “Having a skilled workforce is one of the biggest components to economic development. This council will ensure a continued partnership between education and industry to produce the best skilled workforce for jobs of the future.”