Gov. Robert Bentley kicks off Alabama Workforce Council - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Gov. Robert Bentley kicks off Alabama Workforce Council

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The first meeting of the Alabama Workforce Council Monday saw executives from some of Alabama's biggest and most valuable companies meet with education leaders to start the process of integrating some of their work.

"This is a very big deal" said Zeke Smith, an Executive Vice President with Alabama Power who was tapped to chair the group.

The Alabama Legislature created the Workforce Council through legislation and the governor was tasked with appointing members.

Executives from companies that include Honda, Airbus, Austal, and GD Copper join other small and large business owners from across the state for the first meeting.

Gov. Robert Bentley, who just returned from an economic development trip to the Farnborough Air Show in London, said companies from around the world are watching Alabama to see what it could offer them as a destination to locate a plant.

"It's very important for them to see a trained, skilled workforce and they not only want them coming out of high school and dual enrollment and two year college systems, but they need engineers," Gov. Bentley said.

Smith with Alabama Power said the council is a way for Alabama to link together education and industry in ways that other states have only thought about. He added that this could get students on the solid path to a job shortly after they finish their studies.

Smith said "If we can find that passion for the students, number one that will improve graduation rates and number two that will allow us to fill that void, that gap that we know we're all seeing in industry around skilled trades."

Governor Bentley said of the first meeting, "We already have the best workforce training of any state in the country. That's already been recognized but it's going to be even better with what we're doing today."

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