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Workforce needed to keep up with economic growth along Gulf Coast

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey delivers her state of the state address at the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., Jan. 11, 2022. Ivey faced eight challengers in the Republican primary for governor
Mickey Welsh
/
AP
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey delivers her state of the state address at the State Capitol building in Montgomery, Ala., Jan. 11, 2022. Ivey faced eight challengers in the Republican primary for governor

Finding people to fill thousands of high-paying technical jobs on the Alabama Gulf Coast is a growing challenge.

In the upcoming months, companies like Austal, Airbus and Novelis will bring thousands of jobs to the Mobile-Baldwin region. Those people will need to be trained and prepared to work.

Gov. Kay Ivey says a trained workforce is a key to improving Alabama’s economy.

"We need more people to fill these good jobs and that doesn't just mean jobs we have today," she said. "It means we need to ensure we have a skilled, well-trained, well-prepared workforce to fill these high-demand jobs that these great Alabama companies continue adding in the years to come.

Bradley Byrne is a former congressman who now runs the Mobile Chamber of Commerce. He says local schools and colleges are working to prepare young people for those positions.

"We've got to make sure we produce the workforce that we have to have to make sure that we can produce this level of economic activity," he said, "but I'm confident that with the University of South Alabama, Bishop State, all of our schools in this area, Coastal Alabama Community College, I'm confident we will do that.

Companies like Airbus are working with local schools to train students for work on the assembly lines with programs like Flight Path 9.

Ivey told the Mobile Chamber of Commerce that the number of high school graduates who are not ready for college and careers needs to be improved.

"The classes of 2020 and 2021 the graduation rate was 92%. The college and career readiness rate was 76%. That's a 16 percentage point gap," she said. "We've got to prepare our Alabama students and workers for the jobs of tomorrow."

She says local schools and colleges are working to improve those statistics.

"Schools like the University of South Alabama and Bishop State are readying our young people to work at places like Austal and Airbus," Ivey said.

The governor says she hopes that the Success Plus plan will add another 500,000 newly credentialed Alabamians to the state workforce by 2025.

Guy Busby is an Alabama native and lifelong Gulf Coast resident. He has been covering people, events and interesting occurrences on America’s South Coast for more than 20 years. His experiences include riding in hot-air balloons and watching a ship being sunk as a diving reef. His awards include a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists as part of the APR team on the series “Oil and Water,” on the anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Some of his other interests include writing, photography and history. He and his wife, Elizabeth, live in Silverhill.
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