We're Teaming Up to Tackle Local Workforce Problems.
Over the past two weeks the Chamber has led two public meetings resulting in the attendance of twenty-five community leaders all with a common goal; coordinate efforts to learn how area business, education and industry can come together to solve workforce problems throughout Jackson County, Alabama. Although a 4% unemployment rate may not seem like much of a problem, we are now faced with combatting growth issues that are plaguing our workforce and all of us at the Chamber are eager to spearhead the coordinated community effort.
The newly formed group is a community led initiative that evolved from a county-wide study conducted three years ago to address workforce barriers. Under the request of Rick Roden, Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, consultants from South Carolina conducted a survey that resulted in overwhelming feedback from industry, city, business & educational leaders that we can’t ignore.
The new group worked in an open forum setting to identify critical needs, and the feedback was unanimous. There is an immediate need to focus on training soft skill habits and retaining skilled workers. But what does that look like? With historical success developing award-winning workforce plans in the past, Jeff of John's Manville promises that if done right this plan will get us the help we need, & get us where we want to go. Although the attendees agreed it was impressive to witness community leaders unite to effect change, there is still much work to be done.
"Whether by luck or design," says Jeff of John's Manville "this strategic workforce plan has been a proven tool that's been used in the past to bring about excellence" at his plants.
The response to “act now” was quite consistent and has become a major contributor in the development of The Chamber’s current five-year plan. Now, in the second year of The Gateway Initiative we are making more notable community - driven steps forward.
Change is here, in the form of 6 community wide initiatives that the Chamber has been working on for close to two years now. One of those initiatives focuses specifically on area workforce, called: Industry Driven Talent Development. To ensure the initiative’s success, Pam McElroy was hired as Director of Talent Development & works with businesses, industries, schools and other partners to help ensure qualified job applicants for business and industry now and into the future.
As we continue to forge ahead, we consider it vital to team up to solve community problems and are grateful to have the chance to be part of the conversation that has begun to identify core workforce issues. The problems that have been brought up at both meetings all point to one thing; A lack of communication between industry and education in order to educate students on the career paths available to them. Truth is, college isn’t for everyone and thankfully we live in a world where skilled laborers can provide an incredible living for themselves and their families. But, for those who choose to go to a two or four-year schools, we are grateful for our partnership with Northeast Alabama Community College, who’s been recognized as one of the best community colleges in the country.
As the leading voice for business development throughout Jackson County, we consider it our duty and privilege to evolve our community service offerings into areas we haven’t traditionally been as active. The world is changing, and we want to change with it so we can ensure the longevity of our community and our workforce.
What’s necessary to move forward is a marriage between education and industry to become more successful at attracting and retaining high quality employees. Together with our workforce partners: IMPACT Learning Center - 21st Century Council, Jackson County Economic Development Authority, Northeast Alabama Community College, Jackson County School District, Scottsboro City Schools, EPCOT, Huntingdon College and North Alabama Works we are excited to have an industry leader step up to facilitate a roadmap moving forward.
Take a closer look at where we are and where we are headed by reviewing Pam’s presentation.
If you would like to be involved, please feel free to reach out otherwise we will keep you posted on progress made as we continue to move forward.