West Alabama Works continues to be a lead in development workforce initiatives across the region. Through our innovative approach to cluster (business sector) work we are able to capitalize on the assets and expertise of industry, education, and providers to maximize the impact on the region. Here are just a few of the ongoing initiatives we are currently working on:
- ACT Work Ready Community Designations for the entire region
- Buildout of the Brookwood Technical High School
- Logistics Training Program
- Hale County Community Outreach and Training Grant
- Pathways Program
- Central High School Ready To Work Program (regional rollout coming soon)
- Injection Molding Training Initiative
- Apprentice West Alabama
- Mercedes Hiring Initiative
- State WIOA alignment
- Hybrid Ready To Work Initiatives (industry specific)
- Initiative 2020 – 1.5 million dollar POWER grant
- Rural outreach training – West Alabama Works Mobile Workforce Unit
- Career Connect – Workforce Support System
- ACCE Workforce and Education Fellowship (Lumina Foundation)
- National Fund for Workforce Solutions Site
- WOW – Worlds of Work
- Regional Career Fairs for high school juniors and seniors
- Regional Hiring Fairs for adults
- CNC/Machinist Task Force
- Temporary Staffing Agency Task Force
- High School Soft Skills Training
- Financial Literacy
- Adult Carpentry Program
- Sustainability Grant
- Simulated Workplace in local schools
- Career Technical Education Task Force (all CTE Directors in the region)
- Partnership with GoBuild’s Follow the Flag Campaign
- AlabamaPossible and Cash for College
- National Fund for Workforce Development At Risk Young Adult Program (Annie E. Casey Foundation)
West Alabama has two counties certified as ACT Work Ready Communities
First metro community in the State of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, ALABAMA—November 17, 2016 marks a momentous day in workforce development in Tuscaloosa. West Alabama Works today announced that it has met all criteria to become a certified ACT Work Ready Community. This achievement caps a 12 month engagement process and begins a two-year growth and maintenance phase to retain certification.
The ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is designed to assist a particular area, region or state in developing its workforce pipeline to provide skilled workers for employers. The framework allows each participating community to quantify and improve the skill levels of its workforce through a standardized workforce skill credential—the National Career Readiness Certificate™.
To begin this certification process, community leaders attended the ACT Work Ready Communities Academy, an executive leadership and training program designed and hosted by ACT. They then began to work toward their certification goals by building awareness, cooperation and commitment with local business, policymakers, educators and economic developers.
The common building blocks of the initiative include:
- ACT WorkKeys® assessments: Standardized tests that measure an individual’s essential work readiness skills in applied mathematics, reading for information and locating information. According to decades of ACT research, these foundational skills are essential for a majority of today’s jobs.
- ACT National Career Readiness Certificate: A national credential based on assessment results and issued at the bronze, silver, gold or platinum level to indicate career readiness.
- ACT Career Curriculum: ACT KeyTrain® and ACT Soft Skills Suite training tools to help individuals improve their “hard” and “soft” skill levels, as well as ACT Career Ready 101™ to help teachers bring work readiness skills into the classroom.
- Job profiles: A job analysis system that helps employers understand the specific ACT WorkKeys assessment scores required for entry into and effective performance in a given job.
Donny Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and Team Leader for West Alabama Works states, “This accomplishment marks continued alignment of business driven needs and educational achievement. Industry recognizes the value of the NCRC. Employers now can be sure that individuals with their NCRC come to the table with a basic set of skills, which will allow them to be successful employees. We are the first metro area in the State of Alabama to have its designation, which required support from over 120 businesses. We’ll continue to educate our business community on the value of the NCRC and the importance of being a Work Ready Community.”
Russell Dubose, Human Resources Director at Phifer Incorporated, utilizes Work Keys as a standard hiring tool. “ACT WorkKeys is the country’s premier workforce assessment solution. For more than nine years, we have qualified job applicants based on valid and reliable analysis using the WorkKeys system. We are proud to be a member of an ACT Work Ready Community!”
Gary Nichols President, Chief Operating Officer of McAbee Construction, Inc.
and the Chairman of the West Alabama Works asserts, “We continue to move the needle in our region every day. It’s our mission to develop talent and serve the increasing needs of business. It improves the lives of all of our citizens and increases the viability of our economy. We’re all about results, and this is one we are proud of.”
Sumter County led by the University of West Alabama also received its Work Ready Community designation earlier in the year. Region 3 includes Tuscaloosa, Lamar, Pickens, Fayette, Sumter, Greene, Hale, Bibb, and Marengo all of which will begin the process this year of becoming certified counties. Regions work together collaboratively to leverage knowledge and assets to best create business driven training programs and bridge the talent gap.