Kathy Taylor, former Tulsa mayor and chief executive officer of ImpactTulsa, authenticates the keel of the future USS Tulsa by welding her initials onto an aluminum plate to be placed in the ship’s hull. (Courtesy Austal)
It’s not surprising that workforce is getting so much attention. It is often the first question companies ask when they consider locating a new plant or expanding in the state. The availability of a skilled and trained workforce is a growing concern for companies throughout the country.
Alabama is looking to address this concern through initiatives with both a local and a statewide focus.
At the Economic Development Association of Alabama’s summer conference this week, panelists discussed best practices already in place and new tools on the way that will keep Alabama’s workforce as one of the state’s strongest attributes when it comes to landing businesses.
Sandra Koblas is strategic recruitment manager at Austal USA, an international shipbuilder with a large operation in Mobile. She chairs the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC).
She said Alabama’s AIDT program along with its regional workforce councils and the Alabama Workforce Council are doing many of the things industries want and need.
Austal has invested $400 million in its Mobile plant and employs 4,000 workers building ships for the U.S. Navy.
“Without the partnership we have in Alabama, we would not have been able to meet those manning needs,” Koblas said.
The state has had general education and training programs for years. But the past few years have seen specific job training programs instituted at all levels of education through the regional workforce councils and Alabama Workforce Council, which delivered its first comprehensive report to Bentley last year.