New method aims to help add highly skilled Alabamians to workforce

A group of education advocates wants to increase the number of Alabamians who earn post-high school credentials.
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 6:03 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A group of education advocates wants to increase the number of Alabamians who earn post-high school credentials. They met Tuesday in Montgomery to discuss a new method to achieve Gov. Kay Ivey’s goal to add more highly skilled residents to the workforce.

Breaking down barriers to prosperity includes making it easier to access education after high school. Melinda Byrd-Murphy with Coastal Alabama Community College encourages students to finish a credential, such as a technical skill, a two-year or a four-year degree they can use to enter the workforce.

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“The makeup of our student body is about 40% traditional students, those who range between 18 and 22,” Byrd-Murphy explained, “but the other 40% of our students also range between 26 and 52. For the state to prosper, all of the students and citizens need to prosper.”

In 2018 Ivey announced her “Success Plus” post-secondary attainment goal of adding 500,000 highly skilled Alabamians to the workforce by 2025.

“How do we make sure that we may create pathways for Alabama, to take advantage of the wonderful workforce that we have in our state?” asked Chandra Scott. She’s the executive director of Alabama Possible, a nonprofit that invited educators and workforce experts to learn about the stakeholder engagement process from Indiana resident and executive director of CivicLab, Jack Hess.

“It’s a purpose deliberate way for community collaboration to happen across the public, private and social sectors,” said Hess, who noted the method is used to tackle complex social problems like food insecurity, housing, and education attainment.

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“We’re going to take collaboration, which is itself a spirit as much as a process, and then try to make that for the entire team, as visible, concrete tangible,” he said.

The impact of the process will be seen over time.

“When you have people that have upward mobility, it ends generational poverty,” said Scott.

According to a July 2022 press release from Ivey’s office, “Since launching the plan in 2018, Alabama has added 214,922 credentials, according to the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC).” The office anticipates another round of data to be available later in 2023..

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