There aren’t enough highly-skilled workers entering the workforce in Alabama. That’s the concern from a new report out this week.
In 2018, nearly 14,000 high school seniors in our state were not college and career ready.
Alabama needs to change the way we prepare students for their future careers. The Business Education Alliance of Alabama says our state needs at least 5000,000 new highly skilled workers in the next five years just to fill new positions and keep up with the amount of people retiring.
STEM Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama, Angela O’Neil, said, “Engineers are, as a field, getting much older, and then all of a sudden, they’re going to retire and there’s going to be a big huge shortage of engineers nationally.”
The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering is set to open this year in Huntsville. The new magnet school will teach students skills they’ll need to fill jobs in the STEM field.
Last year, Alabama’s fourth and eighth graders scored lower in math than students in every other state. The North Alabama Boys and Girls Club is opening up stem labs to educate young people and get them interested in stem jobs.
“We just knew science and technology was just the way of the future as far as jobs and workforce goes, because things are not getting less complicated right, and we need people that are different than maybe the regular workers that are in those fields now,” said O’Neil.
The report suggests that there needs to be a bigger focus on Alabama’s Pre-K program to set better foundations in reading and math.
Other local groups are doing their part to get people into the workforce faster.
HMCBA Executive Officer Barry Oxley said, “We know there’s been a problem in our area, just it’s the same across the entire United States. There’s a shortage of trade skilled labor.”
The Huntsville Madison County Builders Association recently opened a new trade school in Huntsville. It’s called the North Alabama Homebuilding Academy, and they’re teaching people of all ages basic trade skills for free.
“Until we started our own North Alabama Homebuilding Academy, these teachers really didn’t say if you want to do this, go here, because they could come to our academy the second half of their senior year and get those trade skills and go out into the workforce,” said Oxley.
Over 300,000 adults in Alabama don’t have a high school education, and less than half of them are in the workforce. They say helping the people on the sidelines is a step in the right direction.
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