By Chris Yow, For The Tribune
BIRMINGHAM — The Alabama Workforce Council announced Tuesday a new initiative to assist employers, job seekers and students in streamlining the hiring process. The initiative, know as “Alabama Works”, launched a website Tuesday that will seamlessly link employers with potential employees based on their training.
“The Alabama Workforce Council and our partners are focused on helping transform the state’s workforce system to dramatically improve the livelihoods for millions of Alabama families for years to come,” Zeke Smith, executive vice president at Alabama Power Co. and chairman
of the Alabama Workforce Council, said. “We are doing that today by providing a tool to match the needs of employers with job seekers across our state to grow our economy and raise the standard of living for Alabamians.”
The new program will bring unification to of the Alabama workforce system, bringing together key components of the K-12 and two-year college systems, state workforce training and placement services and industry, according to a press release.
Under this program, the state will divide into seven regions, and over the course of the next year, the restructured Regional Workforce Councils will integrate into the new Alabama Works system. That includes each of Alabama’s 48 career centers.
Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Department of Commerce and executive director of Alabama
Industrial Development and Training (AIDT), said the backbone of Alabama Works will be the
seven local Regional Workforce Councils, local Alabama Career Centers and the new website. He also commended state legislators for working quickly to get them funding for this project.
“Our system is driven by local businesses and will therefore be responsive to the current and future needs of businesses in Alabama. Each Regional Workforce Council will be able to focus on the business sectors within its geographical area,” he said.
“We are moving a workforce system that was already good to one that is more cohesive, focused and better meets the needs of employers and residents,” Fitzgerald Washington, secretary of the Alabama Department of Labor, said. “Our career center services are available to both job seekers and employers, and are completely free of charge. We have a high success rate in matching job seekers with employers, and it’s our hope that even more Alabamians will take advantage of these great services.”
The new brand was something the state desperately needed, although Alabama’s unemployment rate stands at just 5.4 percent, the lowest in eight years.
“We didn’t want to settle for a mere touch-up. We called for a new identity, a new brand – recognizable, descriptive and effective,” George Clark, president of Manufacture Alabama and vice chairman of the Alabama Workforce Council, said. “And we needed everyone involved in workforce development – state agencies, education and the business sector – all pulling together in the same direction.”
What makes this system infinitely better than the previous system is the integration of the education system with two-year colleges, according to Jeff Lynn, senior executive director of workforce and economic development for the Alabama Community College System.
“The real game-changer for Alabama Works is the unified nature of education resources, workforce training programs and the private sector,” he said. “We will be a national leader in fully integrating education and training programs to match the high-wage, high-demand jobs available in today’s and tomorrow’s economy.”
The new Alabama Works web portal, www.alabamaworks.com, has been designed to quickly connect employers, job seekers and students to the resources they need. The portal provides quick access to resources, information and tools in one easy-to-use location offering connections to Alabama Joblink, the K-12 and community college systems, the Alabama Career Centers and the network of Regional Workforce Councils.
“Today is about a lot more than a new brand and new logo,” added Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “It’s about taking Alabama to the national forefront of workforce development so that every person in Alabama who wants to find a job can, and so that every employer that comes to Alabama will be able to hire the skilled workers it needs. We truly believe that we are building a system that will soon become a national model.”
Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said this is about more than a new brand and logo.
“It’s about taking Alabama to the national forefront of workforce development so that every person in Alabama who wants to find a job can, and so that every employer that comes to Alabama will be able to hire the skilled workers it needs. We truly believe that we are building a system that will soon become a national model.”
Smith added he feels this will be vital in the advancement of Alabama and its citizens as a workforce.
“This is about growing Alabama, and making Alabama a better place,” he said.