Alabama’s lieutenant governor says state primed to be ‘workforce engine of the southeast’

Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth believes the state is primed to become the ‘workforce engine of the southeast’.
Published: Oct. 19, 2023 at 5:58 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama’s Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth believes the state is primed to become the ‘workforce engine of the southeast’.

Wednesday, Ainsworth met with a group of lawmakers backing a plan to transform the state’s current workforce development initiatives.

The committee wants to create a new state position that would help strengthen workforce competitiveness for now and throughout the 21st century. But, Alabama has high-paying jobs and no one to fill them. Lawmakers say the state needs a workforce development quarterback to get people back to work.

Members of the Lt. Gov.’s 21st-century workforce commission propose the creation of a new cabinet position in the governor’s office.

“The idea of having quarterback would be to have someone who’s coordinating all of these efforts and making sure they’re aligned with a strategy that’s going to actually be successful,” said Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Jefferson County.

Garrett is on the commission and oversees the state’s education budget. He says coordinating the state’s workforce developments may cost a significant amount of the state’s $8.6 billion Education Trust Fund.

“We won’t mind investing significant dollars,” Garrett said, “so long as we’ve got a coordinated plan that we think is executable.”

The plan will focus on removing barriers to entering the workforce due to a lack of childcare or transportation.

“We have to have a model and a process that is responsive to changes that are demanded by the business community who are making or hiring these employees,” said Garrett.

Rep. Kelvin Lawrence, D-House District 69, also on the committee, says more people with jobs can affect the crime rate.

“Crimes kind of devolve from most people being desperate and don’t have any hope,” he said. “Getting more people to work instead in the state of Alabama will only help all around.”

The commission will meet again in January where they plan to have a completed list of recommendations for the governor and legislature prior to next year’s session, which is expected to start in February.

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