With unemployment rates and joblessness still at a level higher than anyone in the state would like, Southeast AlabamaWorks is providing a much-needed connection for businesses and industries seeking employees, and individuals seeking employment.
Ryan Richards, director of workforce development for Southeast AlabamaWorks said his organization hopes to be the pipeline to connect companies and businesses with skilled employees.
To accomplish this goal, Southeast AlabamaWorks has partnered with a number of organizations in the state which include the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Department of Labor, Alabama Community College System, Alabama Department of Education, Alabama Industrial Development Training, Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, Alabama Technology Network, Go Build Alabama, Alabama Career Center System and a number of others.
Richards said that Southeast AlabamaWorks and the Regional Workforce Council work with businesses and companies to find out what skillsets they are looking for and connect them with jobseekers that match those skillsets. They also help match companies that are looking to upgrade the skillsets of current employees with training programs across the state, and also help connect individuals that are looking for training in a particular industry or skillset. That includes unemployed individuals or even underemployed individuals that want something different.
Richards is the director for the Southeast region, which includes Coffee, Crenshaw, Covington, Butler, Geneva, Pike, Barber, Dale, Henry, and Houston counties, and has good working relationships with both Enterprise State Community College in Enterprise and LBW Community College in Andalusia.
He said that Southeast AlabamaWorks and the community colleges are working to provide options for both individuals and companies to match skillsets to the needs of the companies.
They are also working with K-12 schools that provide work-tech programs so that they can come straight out of high school and into the workforce.
“We are trying to get them to see a future career path right here in our own region if they do their due diligence in high school,” Richards said. “They can graduate from high school and go right into the workforce and make a good living if they just put the time and effort into it for free while they’re still there.”
Richards said that Southeast AlabamaWorks can also help connect individuals that are looking to either take classes to get certified in a particular area or even attend a two-year college, by connecting them with an Alabama Career Center.
Richards said that the top five target industries and occupations in the Southeast region currently are healthcare, transportation, manufacturing, aviation and services.
Those industries include jobs like nursing, surgical technicians and physical therapists in healthcare, truck drivers and auto mechanics in transportation, welding and construction trades in manufacturing, engineering and sheet metal fabricators in aviation and customer service representatives in services.
Southeast AlabamaWorks can help connect companies in these industries with jobseekers and also jobseekers to the training they would need to be employed in those industries.
“If we continue to let the status quo be what it is, the unemployment status is going to continue to rise,” Richards said. “So, we are challenged with trying to find ways to build training and skill levels up to where students are graduating from high school with the skillset to go right into the workforce. We also have to work to get people that are unemployed into these training courses so that they can meet the need of industries as well.”