BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – AIDT helped build Alabama’s auto industry workforce, and the top-rated job-training agency has worked to provide Mobile’s shipbuilders with skilled welders. Now, AIDT and several partners are opening a center that will assist construction and manufacturing firms in Alabama’s largest metro area.
The Alabama Workforce Training Center at 3500 Sixth Avenue South in Birmingham officially opened today with a ceremony that included remarks from Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and others. The one-of-a-kind facility will help construction companies and manufacturers meet their urgent workplace training needs and will prepare individuals for careers in the skilled trades.
“The Alabama Workforce Training Center is one of the first partnerships created under my College and Career Ready Task Force,” Governor Bentley said. “This strategic alliance between state and local governments and private industry is key to building a skilled workforce that will move Alabama forward in coming years.”
AIDT, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce, worked with the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Alabama chapter of Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) and Manufacture Alabama to make the 56,000-square-foot facility a reality. The Alabama Community College System and the state’s K-12 school system also were involved in the project. State Reps. Paul DeMarco and Rod Scott championed its cause.
“This training center will provide a turnkey trained workforce for employers in the Birmingham region,” BBA President and CEO Brian Hilson said. “Alabama Workforce Training Center-trained workers will have the skills necessary to meet the industry needs of employers in our community.”
The Alabama Workforce Training Center stemmed from meetings over an 18-month period between AIDT, the BBA and manufacturing and construction companies that focused on identifying both short-term and long-term training needs in the Birmingham area.
Both sectors are important to the Birmingham region’s economy, together employing 62,700 people in April, according to figures from the Alabama Department of Labor. Manufacturing, in particular, has been growing, with employment in the metro area hitting 38,900 in April, an increase of 1,200 jobs in a year.
“The construction industry alone represents more than $10 billion to the (Alabama) economy,” said Jay Reed, president of the Alabama ABC chapter. “You couple that with manufacturing and you have two major economic engines in Alabama getting what they need. These two industries need a trained workforce. This center is created to do just that.”
Training at the Birmingham facility will be conducted by AIDT staffers, as well as trainers and vendors affiliated with industry partners. The customized training will be designed to meet immediate workplace needs and allow trainees to receive certifications that designate specific skills.
AIDT Director Ed Castile said collaboration on this project was necessary because today’s workforce needs exceed the ability of any single organization to meet while working alone.
“It is said that workforce development is about getting the right people, the right skills for the right jobs at the right time,” Castile said. “This is definitely the right time for this project.”
Since its founding in 1971, AIDT has promoted growth in Alabama through customized workforce training that’s free to companies and trainees. AIDT’s expertise in recruitment and pre-employment training assists existing companies and plays a major role in economic development.
This spring, Business Facilities magazine gave AIDT its “Achievement in Workforce Development Award” for the Robotics Technology Park near Decatur, where workers from manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda and Navistar train on the latest equipment from the world’s top industrial robot makers and automation software firms.
The organization operates other training centers across the state, including the AIDT Maritime Training Center in Mobile and project-based facilities at the state’s auto assembly plants and at Outokumpu (formerly ThyssenKrupp Steel & Stainless) in Mobile.