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Innovation Center seeks to rapidly train needed workers

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The Alabama Community College System on Monday showed off its new Innovation Center, a statewide effort to rapidly train workers for in-demand jobs.

Classes can be started anywhere in the state and end with in-person labs at regional campuses. Those who complete the non-credit programs receive a job credential.

“Every Alabamian deserves an opportunity to succeed in the state’s economy,” ACCS Chancellor Jimmy Baker said in a written statement. “It’s not always that someone needs two years at the community college to make them have the skills viable for the labor market, so we have found a way to expedite the training so we can move people more rapidly into the market.

“The Innovation Center is where we house people to devote to the process of developing curriculum for training, no matter what it may be, so that residents can take those credentials and either get to work or get promoted with the right skills for their job.”

The Innovation Center is a $10 million investment by the state. In its pilot year, the training is free to trainees and the companies who will hire them. Future costs will depend on allocations from the Legislature.

Currently, there are more available jobs in the state than job seekers and employers are vying for trained workers.

Using a $1 million grant, the Innovation Center and Coastal Community College recently worked with the Alabama Tourism Department to train workers for the short-staffed hospitality industry. All of the training completers were matched with jobs.

Other in-demand fields targeted for Innovation Center rapid training include butchery, commercial driver license, recreation, heavy equipment, plumbing and facilities maintenance.

“America’s commercial trucking industry is facing a critical shortage of about 80,000 professional drivers,” said Mark Colson, president and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association. “…These are high-quality jobs offering great pay and endless career path opportunities. We are proud to partner with the Alabama Community College System to ramp up efforts to attract and connect job-seekers with the training they need to enter the trucking industry.”

For more information about available training, visit

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