Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday announced a statewide effort that will help students better prepare for successful careers.
The Governor's College & Career Ready Task Force will bring together members of the education community and the business community in a united effort to strengthen the preparation of students for the workforce. Governor Bentley is asking business leaders to partner with educators and routinely discuss the types of skills that are needed in today's workplace. Educators can then use that feedback, coupled with their own expertise, to develop new programs that will train students in the skills that are sought by employers.
"The result is that more students will be college and career ready, and more people will be able to find a good, well-paying job," Governor Bentley said. "As we continue to strengthen our workforce, that will also help us attract more new companies and more new jobs for the people of Alabama."
Representatives of K-12 schools, two-year colleges, four-year colleges and the business community will work together on the task force, helping the state offer a more coordinated approach to workforce development. As part of the task force, businesses can also be encouraged to invest in career training initiatives.
"By coordinating our workforce development efforts, we can give more students a seamless transition from the classroom to the workplace," Governor Bentley added. "The work of the task force can also help more students understand the variety of good careers that are available. A lot of good career training is already taking place at various schools. The goal of this task force is to make sure our efforts are reaching more students across Alabama."
"Governor Bentley and I are convinced that the path to a brighter and more productive Alabama rests in the ability to educate and train our existing and future workforce," State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tommy Bice said. "The formation of the College and Career Ready Task Force is another step in the direction of making sure Alabama students have the knowledge and skills necessary to move seamlessly from high school to college and/or the workforce. This team of educators and business professionals has been assembled to make sure we are clearly articulating exactly what is expected from teachers, administrators, parents, students and the business community to make sure Alabama students not only graduate from high school, but do so with the ability to successfully transition into college or the workforce without mandatory remediation -- a foundational component of the State Board of Education's PLAN 2020."
"The Governor's College and Career Ready Task Force is another tool that the State of Alabama will have under its belt to ensure that we are preparing our students and citizens for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow," Alabama Community College System Chancellor Dr. Mark Heinrich said. "In our roles as educators and business and industry leaders, tasked with preparing the people of this state to go out and be successful in the workforce, it is crucial that the right people are at the table having the right conversation."
Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey, House Speaker Mike Hubbard, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield will serve as co-chairs of the task force.
Secretary Canfield said the work of the task force will compliment Accelerate Alabama -- the state's long-term, strategic economic development plan.
"One of the goals of the Accelerate Alabama partnership is to close the gap between the skills employees have and what employers need. This task force will tighten our focus on this goal and make it reality," Secretary Canfield said. "Our economic development team, K-12, postsecondary and industry working together will forge a partnership that ensures that every child in Alabama has the opportunity to learn the skills needed in today's work environment."
The task force is not a new governance structure or decision-making authority. Rather, it is a gathering of business and education professionals who will work to make practical recommendations on ways to strengthen workforce development.
Tuesday's announcement was made at the Shelby County School of Technology, which already offers students a variety of Career Technical Academies. The academies are a strong example of how the education and business communities can work together to produce a more highly-skilled workforce. The College & Career Ready Task Force will encourage similar partnerships in additional schools throughout Alabama.
"The key to economic strength in Alabama is a well-educated, well-trained and prepared workforce, and our school district is working very hard to meet this vital goal," Shelby County Superintendent Randy Fuller said. "Many of the goals and objectives for the Governor's new task force are being successfully modeled here in Shelby County, including a strong focus on workforce development and partnerships with business and industry. We also have a collaborative effort between the school district, Jefferson State Community College and the University of Montevallo through our very successful Vertical Teaming Initiative."
The first meeting of the Governor's College & Career Ready Task Force is expected to take place within the next month.