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Alabama workforce development leaders stress need for industry input

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Ahead of the implementation of a package of workforce development bills, the Alabama Workforce Development Board is discussing the need to incorporate more input from industry and business leaders in the state’s workforce development strategies.

“This is the last meeting, potentially, under this current structure, and under the new structure, business and industry will be front and center,” said Nick Moore, director of the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation, said at a meeting last week.

“It’ll be a lot less bureaucrats like me up here giving presentations, and more people from industry.”

Alabama Workforce Development Board member Matthew Dudely speaks during a June 26 meeting in Montgomery.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a package of five bills in May intended to transform the state’s workforce development strategy, with a focus on improving the state’s labor force participation rate, which at 57.5%, remains among the lowest in the country.

Moore gave a presentation on just one of those five bills, the Workforce Transformation Act, carried by Sen. Steve Livingston, R-Scottsboro.

Under the new law, a number of state workforce development entities and programs will be consolidated under the Alabama Department of Labor, which will be renamed as the Department of Workforce.

The law also establishes the State Workforce Development Board, a centralized governing body responsible for overseeing and coordinating workforce development efforts across the state.

Moore noted that a number of provisions in the law were intended to increase input from industry leaders when it came to the state’s development of workforce development strategies, and highlighted what was dubbed the Executive Committee. It will provide strategic guidance for the State Workforce Development Board, and would be composed of leaders and stakeholders from various sectors, including industry, business and education.

Moore also stressed the importance of shaking up the state’s approach to workforce development as is outlined in the bill.

“Things aren’t going the way they need to; business and industry is not as involved as it needs to be, sometimes these meetings come off more as we’re just going through the motions,” Moore said.

The Executive Committee, Moore continued, would be crucial in helping the state improve its approach to workforce development.

The law goes into effect on Oct. 1 of 2024, with the deadline for the bill’s full implementation on Oct. 1, 2025.

Matthew Dudely, a member of the Workforce Development Board, called the consolidation of various state workforce development entities a “very, very big change in a short amount of time.”

Moore noted the one-year transition period outlined in the bill, but stressed there was still significant work to be done leading up to the bill’s full implementation.

“There is a lot of work to be done, and there’s going to be right ways to do it, and there’s going to be (other) ways,” Moore said. “So we want to make sure we implement it the right way, and that starts by making sure that we do right by our people.”

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