Workforce challenges

Published 10:24 pm Monday, June 18, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
Poor work ethic and lack of funding for training programs are among the challenges Escambia County faces as it looks to develop its workforce, economic development officials said last week at a summit in Bay Minette.
Preparing for the future growth of south Alabama was the main topic of discussion during the inaugural six-county Region 9 Workforce Development Summit.
Al Etheridge, workforce development coordinator for Region 9, shared the workforce challenges each county in Region 9, which includes Escambia, Baldwin, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke and Washington counties, identified during forums held the past three months.
Challenges identified by Escambia County industrial officials at a forum at JDCC in March include poor work ethic; the need for more funding for training; high turnover; and lack of computer, reading and math skills.
The group then divided into 12 discussion groups to talk about issues that came out of the forums held in each county. Rogers said the groups were a big help.
The six topics discussed in the groups included: recruiting, communication and marketing, soft skills development, employer roles in pre-K-12, preparing adult learners with low skills and employee development.
With the recent announcement of ThyssenKrupp and the potential for all the counties in Region 9 to secure spin off industries, Atmore Chamber of Commerce Director Emilie Mims said she believes summits like the one held Monday are a must.
The purpose of the meeting was to begin the task of fulfilling Gov. Riley's mandate to establish regional workforce development initiatives so that training will be in place to prepare workers. This is a win-win for the citizens of Atmore and our community.”
Etheridge challenged the group with setting up task forces around those issues and encouraged them to go out and work those issues.
Dr. Tim Alford, founder and executive director of Enterprise Economic Development Corp., gave several crucial workforce development points including the three he believes are key - productivity, availability and cost.
Alford also shared several state statistics as they relate to workforce development including standard of living vs. education and skills.
County Challenges:

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