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Workforce information bill awaits House vote

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

A three-pronged workforce-development bill is awaiting a vote in the Alabama House.

Legislation in the Alabama House would make it easier for Alabamians to find information about the workforce credentials available to them and the jobs those credentials could help them obtain.

House Bill 241, sponsored by Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, was approved in the House Education Policy Committee on Wednesday and could get a vote in the House today.

According to the legislation, there are nearly 1 million unique job credentials in the United States, at least 5,000 available from Alabama-based providers, and “too many Alabamians do not know which credentials lead to desired outcomes, and employers are unable to understand what skills workers bring to a job.”

Collins on Wednesday said the registry will identify “credentials of value” that would lead to a high-quality job. Credentials can include certificates, industry, recognized and registered apprenticeship certificates of completions and occupational licenses.

“Having that one credential that would give you a career you could stay in,” Collins told Alabama Daily News.

Alabama’s Workforce Council, which includes industry leaders from around the state, made recommendations in the bill. 

Tim McCartney, chair of the council, said access to the registry could keep people from wasting time on a credential that won’t help them get a good job.

“There’s nothing more tragic than someone who doesn’t have a means to pay for something, trying to make their life better, to find out it’s worthless,” McCartney said. “And they’ve wasted all that time.”

A panel will annually review the credentials on the registry. 

Collins said a “pathways” portion of her bill would help students P-K through college have better information about “jobs of value in their area, what are the pathways you need to get there and how you can be successful.” 

This section requires analyzing student data over time, including academic performance, employment and wage information.  

Collins and McCartney both said any data used would not be personally identifiable.

“Government agencies collect this data already, but they don’t talk to each other,” McCartney said.

“… This will allow (education agencies)  to develop learning techniques and what we need to be teaching our children from pre-K through college to be ready to go out into the workforce,” McCartney said.

The bill also requires by the 2023-2024 academic year that students earn one or more college or career readiness indicators before they graduate. There are nearly a dozen possible indicators, including earning a benchmark score in any subject area on the ACT college entrance exam, earning a qualifying score of three or higher on an advanced placement exam, earning college credit while in high school; earning a qualifying career technical industry credential; or  being accepted into the military before graduation.

“If they’re not moving toward college, they need to know what their other options are and this bill sets them up to be successful in life,”  Collins told Alabama Daily News earlier this week. 

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