Gov. Kay Ivey on Wednesday announced the creation of the Alabama HBCU Co-Op Pilot Program, which will provide students with the opportunity for hands-on work experience in a number of fields.
The announcement was made during an event hosted by the Alabama Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) and the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
“Our HBCUs are important to the community and our economy, and we must do all we can to support their success, especially as we work to build a highly skilled workforce,” Ivey said.
The Co-Op Pilot Program is geared specifically to HBCU students interested in pursuing a career in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ensuring that Alabama has a well-equipped and quality workforce is a high priority, said the governor.
“By giving our students professional experience in the area of their major, we’re giving our students the opportunity to have a path to the workforce,” Ivey said. “This program is not only a win for our students but it’s a win for all of our HBCUs and for our employers.”
The governor joined state and local officials during the inaugural Alabama HBCU Competitiveness Convening event held at City Club Birmingham in Regions-Harbert Plaza.
Nichelle Nix, director of the GOMA, said competitiveness is something the state focuses on when it comes to industry recruitment, workforce development and education.
She said the GOMA may be the only cabinet-level agency in the nation having a dedicated focus to HBCUs. Officials pointed out that Alabama is home to 14 HBCUs, the most of any state in the country.
“With these institutions serving such an integral part of our economy and constantly producing top talent … we are hoping that by gathering key leaders here, from around the state and the private sector, we will form a solid foundation [and] … strengthen the competitiveness and the capacity of our HBCUs,” Nix said.
Students will be required to complete three co-op semesters in order to gain a sense of professional experience in the area of their majors. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive a Certificate of Completion.
Students must be at least 18 years of age; must be enrolled at one of the 14 Alabama HBCUs; and must have completed their first year of study for four-year students or at least one 15-week term for two-year students. Students must be of a racial or ethnic minority, with a minimum GPA of 3.0 in a STEM field of study.
The Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs will distribute applications for the pilot program to each Alabama HBCU in early 2019. More information about the program and the application process can be found at goma.alabama.gov and here.
This story originally appeared on The Birmingham Times website.