Cooperation, collaboration and coordination were the key findings of the recent meeting of the Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) Public-Private Partnership Committee. The meeting, held Nov. 18 at the Red Mountain Theater in Birmingham, was the first in-person meeting since 2019 for the committee focused on building the highly skilled workforce Alabama needs to meet current and future challenges and opportunities.
The AWC is made up of business, government and education leaders from across Alabama. Reconciling current needs and future goals in the area of personnel development is a primary goal of the public-private partnership committee. This includes coordinating programs and policies to remove barriers to employment and supporting community-based investment in education and training to ensure future workforce needs are met.
“Our job is to break down barriers for the Alabama workforce,” said Phil Webb, owner of Heflin-based Webb Concrete and Building Materials and chair of the AWC’s public-private partnership committee. “Facilitating opportunities for high-paying skills and careers has never been more important to the present and future of Alabama and its people.”
Webb said fostering greater collaboration among Alabama’s seven Regional Workforce Councils is a priority as the committee works to address issues and identify opportunities to invest time and resources in workforce development. He also pointed to partnerships with about 40 nonprofit organizations across Alabama that are critical partners in ensuring the state can successfully compete for the jobs of the future — and to receive federal grants that can shorten the path to competitiveness.
“Nonprofits are working together more purposefully,” said Hallie Bradley, manager of strategic initiatives at the Alabama Power Foundation, which hosted the meeting. In addition to AWC, the foundation supports personnel development through grants in strategic areas.
“We look for services that help people at all levels of the workforce,” Bradley said of the foundation’s approach. “We want to help nonprofit organizations coordinate around common goals, including securing federal grants that impact workforce development issues in their communities and across the state.”
The meeting keynote was delivered by Mary Ila Ward, owner of Horizon Point Consulting and specialist in people and leadership development in Huntsville. Ward offered advice on how to successfully navigate a changing world of work for both employers and employees.
A panel discussion highlighted the City of Birmingham’s progress in implementing a $10.8 million Good Jobs Challenge grant awarded by the US Department of Commerce as part of America’s bailout plan. The panel included Amanda Muller, Civic Design Principal in the Office of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin; Zhaundra C. Jones, Vice President for Philanthropy and Learning for the Women’s Foundation of Alabama; and Emily Wykle, key account manager for startup accelerator gener8tor and current board chair of the nonprofit organization Central Six AlabamaWorks! The conversation was moderated by JW Carpenter, President of Prosper Birmingham.
The Department of Commerce grant enabled the creation of the Birmingham Region Health Partnership, a training program for health workers. Aimed at women, people of color and other traditionally underserved communities, the program will increase access to quality healthcare jobs — including comprehensive services such as transportation and childcare — while building a pipeline of skilled workers. In addition to the City of Birmingham, the partnership is supported by Jefferson County, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, the Birmingham Business Alliance, Innovate Birmingham, Prosper and Central Six.
“This shows the value of working together,” Jones said of the regional health partnership. “Building the partnerships we need to be successful makes us stronger.”
(Courtesy of the Alabama NewsCenter)