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The Workforce Superhighway: Stay clear of ‘malfunction junction’

As you merge onto the Workforce Super Highway in search of that dream career, don’t venture into dead ends or get lost at malfunction junction. Instead, look for signs directing you to AlabamaWorks!

There are several ways to enter the workforce superhighway and get on the right path. On-ramps include the Alabama Department of Labor’s Career Center System, with offices placed strategically in 50 locations, or via one of Alabama’s community colleges that are conveniently located across the state.

Many will enter the workforce highway via one of the seven regional workforce councils representing Alabama’s seven workforce regions, while others will enter through one of Alabama’s existing employers through work-based learning initiatives, such as the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship.

The great news is that there are thousands of job openings in all sectors of Alabama’s economy, including aviation, forestry, chemical, automotive, biomedical and information technology.

Alabama companies are paying premium wages for an employee with a positive attitude, good work ethic and the appropriate skill sets. AlabamaWorks! provides a roadmap to these great jobs, and it’s just a few clicks away at www.alabamaworks.com.

Remember when career resource programs were siloed, loaded with government acronyms and, frankly, not user friendly? In those days, to the unexperienced eye, all workforce roads led to nowhere.

Even harder to understand were the state and federal programs that were designed to help and yet always seemed to be just out of reach.

It was as if one road led to another road, which led to another, and eventually people careened off the highway at “malfunction junction.”

To help untangle the malfunction junction, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her Success Plus plan, mandating that Alabama’s workforce programs work together to help citizens find credentials of value that will lead to a self-sustaining career.

The goal: 500,000 additional credentialed workers in the workforce by 2025.

To succeed, workforce agencies are working toward becoming more user friendly, untying the complicated knots and cross-training staff on multiple programs. Therefore, when a citizen enters from any on-ramp onto the workforce highway, they will find there are no detours or road blocks. Rather, they will find friendly and helpful workforce professionals ready to assist.

Credentials may be earned as a student completes his or her kindergarten through 12th-grade education, during college or as an apprentice. The credential may also be an occupational license or industry-recognized certification needed as a job requirement or to advance to the next level.

There are thousands of potential credentials available, and they can be stacked, sequenced and aligned in a progression of increasing skill to assist Alabamians as they travel the workforce super highway.

Now that you are successfully navigating the superhighway, how do you know what a credential of value is and whether it is legitimate?

Gov. Ivey has appointed a group of professionals though the Alabama Committee on Credentialing and Career Pathways to make sure the credentials available in Alabama are truly of value.

When you successfully attain your credential of value, then what?

You want to make sure your credential is added to the Alabama College and Career Exploration Tool being created for you to market your workforce profile online, where employers are looking for employees with credentials. The ACCET is a digital resume that helps you find employers and employers find you. The ACCET is currently under development and will be available in fall 2020.

The workforce superhighway has many intersections, and AlabamaWorks! is the ever-evolving road map. This one-stop online workforce resource will turn malfunction junction into a distant memory.

Happy motoring and stop by anytime – www.alabamaworks.com is open 24/7.

Guest columnist Ed Castile is the deputy secretary of commerce in the Workforce Development Division and director of AIDT.