Alabama Community College System opens innovation center, starts enrollment for rapid workforce training
BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama Community College System Innovation Center, a $10 million investment aimed at rapidly training workers for the state’s highest-demand industries, has launched its first of several industry-designed programs to help students find immediate employment.
ACCS leaders, students and industry partners kicked off the Innovation Center’s opening and demonstrated some of the training at an event on Monday at Barber Motorsports Park and Museum in Leeds. The training includes short-term classes that students can start from anywhere in the state and finish with an in-person lab in a regional ACCS location. Once students complete the trainings, they are job-ready and are awarded a credential and an opportunity to earn more certifications at their local community college.
“Every Alabamian deserves an opportunity to succeed in the state’s economy,” said Jimmy H. Baker, ACCS chancellor. “It's not always that someone needs two years at the community college to make them have the skills viable for the labor market, so we have found a way to expedite the training so we can move people more rapidly into the market. The Innovation Center is where we house people to devote to the process of developing curriculum for training, no matter what it may be, so that residents can take those credentials and either get to work or get promoted with the right skills for their job."
Business leaders say the rapid training is key as Alabama faces supply chain issues and the nation’s 11th largest worker shortage, according to a study.
“America’s commercial trucking industry is facing a critical shortage of about 80,000 professional drivers,” said Mark Colson, president and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association. “Here in Alabama, trucking already provides 112,000-plus jobs – about 1 out 15 in the state. These are high-quality jobs offering great pay and endless career path opportunities. We are proud to partner with the Alabama Community College System to ramp up efforts to attract and connect job-seekers with the training they need to enter the trucking industry. The ACCS Innovation Center is the right program to supercharge the availability of CDL offerings in our state and enhance the existing programs that are already preparing our future workforce.”
The Innovation Center has already successfully collaborated with the Alabama Tourism Department to help workers train for and find jobs in the state’s $16 billion hospitality industry, thanks to a $1 million grant from Gov. Kay Ivey. All graduates of this pilot training project hosted by Coastal Alabama Community College were matched with jobs and 100 percent of students were hired upon completion of the training.
The ACCS also received funding from the Legislature to develop the Innovation Center and expand skills training and career technical programs that lead to nationally-recognized short-term certifications in high-demand industries.
In addition to hospitality, the first in-demand industries targeted for Innovation Center rapid training include butchery, CDL, recreation, heavy equipment, plumbing and facilities maintenance.
“I am confident the Innovation Center and the programs and curriculum it is developing will benefit Alabamians by strengthening the workforce,” said Dr. Kathy Murphy, president of Gadsden State Community College. “Along with our sister colleges, Gadsden State will provide the training necessary to fill high-demand jobs in a short amount of time. The Innovation Center is sure to lighten the burdens experienced due to a worker shortage in Alabama.”
For more information on upcoming trainings or for answers to frequently asked questions, visit innovation.accs.edu.