Alabama’s apprenticeship effort is primed for additional growth after the U.S. Department of Labor awarded the state a $450,000 grant to expand registered apprenticeship programs.
The funding will allow the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship to enhance its activities in working with employers to develop skilled workers in many industries across the state, according to Josh Laney, the AOA’s director.
Laney said the grant will help the agency provide resources for employers on how to run high-performance apprenticeship programs and allow it to develop mentor programs so skilled workers can pass on their knowledge to the next generation. The grant will also help AOA collect useful data to improve its efforts.
“The top-line metric of performance for the AOA is how well employers are served. The AOA will use the resources provided by this grant to expand our regional presence by locating project managers in the areas closest to the employers they serve,” Laney said.
“Even in times of COVID and social distance, proximity to the clients and a deep integration with the workforce entities in an area allow relationships to be built and joint efforts to flourish,” he said.
The funding arrives at a time of growth for Alabama’s apprenticeship effort, which has been expanding into new industries as part of the COVID-19 recovery. In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded Alabama a $1.3 million, three-year grant to support the expansion of apprenticeship efforts among members of difficult-to-serve special populations.
The new funding comes through the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Building State Capacity to Expand Apprenticeship through Innovation” program.
“We are extremely proud of the work our apprenticeship staff are doing as they work tirelessly to stand up our state apprenticeship agency, the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship,” said Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and head of its Workforce Development Division.
“Receiving this grant at this moment in time is extraordinarily important to the work and will help expedite the development of our Alabama program,” added Castile, who also serves as director of AIDT.
At AOA, Laney teams with industries and education providers across the state to develop and expand traditional and industry-recognized apprenticeships for youth and adults.
He also leads the AOA’s support of larger workforce development infrastructure for Alabama to identify and promote the recognition and use of valuable credentials.
“The AOA is very pleased to be able to secure funding from the U.S. Department of Labor for the expansion of apprenticeship in Alabama,” he said.
This story originally appeared on the Alabama Department of Commerce’s Made in Alabama website.