Alabama is preparing a new generation of workers for future success

A new study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce points to future job growth opportunity for the state of Alabama, provided we are equipped with a competent workforce.
According to the report, Recovery: Job Growth and Education Requirements through 2020, the U.S. is on track to create 55 million new job openings by 2020. Of the projected openings, the study estimates 24 million will be for new jobs, while 31 million will stem from baby boomers retiring.
The good news, according to the study, is that Alabama is expected to see 790,000 openings. But our ability to take full advantage of the positions depends on a prepared workforce.
The report notes that 65 percent of the projected jobs will require some postsecondary education and training, and it suggests most states could see a lack of skilled workers by 2020.
Alabama already is hard at work to give the state every edge in workforce development now and beyond.
Through Accelerate Alabama, the state’s larger strategic economic development plan, Gov. Robert Bentley, the state’s business leaders and top education officials have coordinated efforts to prepare today for success in the future.
A cornerstone of Accelerate Alabama is the alignment of educators, workforce development and training with business and industry focused on addressing the state’s future needs.
For example:
• The Alabama State Board of Education is considering the move to a one diploma system based on college and career readiness for all students but with multiple pathways to achieve this goal. This allows students to obtain certain math and science credits through equivalences in career and technical education courses and other learning experiences such as apprenticeships and internships
• Formal alignment of workforce services within the Alabama Community College System under the umbrella of the Alabama Workforce Training System.
And Dr. Tommy Bice, superintendent of the Alabama State Department of Education, and Dr. Mark Heinrich, chancellor of the Alabama Community College System, are on board with a partnership to address workforce needs, combined with the realization that between 650,000 and 800,000 working-age adults in Alabama do not have high school credentials, and about half of Alabama’s current workforce is of retirement age.
Gov. Bentley has initiated the College & Career Ready Task Force, of which I am a member, to is bring together members of the education community and the business community in a united effort to strengthen the preparation of students for the workforce.
Most recently, EDPA partnered with the Alabama Joint Leadership Development Conference 2013 in September, which will attract about 6,000 of Alabama’s top students in career and technical fields and expose them to careers they may not realize are possibilities.

Building on years of improvement in education, Alabama is preparing a new generation of workers for future success in a global economy.
In this effort, we’ll be central to the state’s overall competitiveness in economic development.

Bill Taylor is President of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and a member of the Alabama Economic Development Alliance, which was created to manage the development of the state’s broader economic plan, Accelerate Alabama.