Workforce Initiatives in Walker County, AL

On Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 12:37

In what began as training for welders, Bevill State Community College has forged a thriving partnership in recent years with Alabama Power Company.

That’s just one example of how workforce initiatives are making Walker County not only a place with employees that are educated and skilled, but also a region that places an absolute priority on workforce development. Like many other relationships between schools and businesses, Bevill State and Alabama Power are experiencing a win-win situation.

“It’s working really well,” says Al Moore, dean of Bevill State’s Sumiton campus and the school’s Career Technical Education division.

Alabama Power, with a couple of plants in Walker County, approached BSCC about providing welding training to its employees in 2007.

“Bevill had a dynamic training program,” Moore says, “so that started the relationship. The training started out as non-credit, then morphed into a credit program.”

Four years later, BSCC provided space on its Sumiton campus for Alabama Power to create a career development center, and the payoffs for both entities keep increasing.

“I think it benefits our community in that we’re providing the workforce,” Moore says of his school’s partnership with Alabama Power and other companies. “Our students are able to get quality jobs, and the companies are able to get a highly skilled workforce that can come in and meet the demands.”

Bevill Leads the Way

Whether it’s through the non-credit training courses of its Workforce Development program or its Career Technical Education division that offers associate degrees, Bevill State works with a wide range of businesses and industries.

It has, for example, a certified nursing assistant program that gives students short-term training to work as nursing aides. The school provides non-credit training in local law enforcement for the Jasper Police Department, and more than 6,000 people have received training through its Alabama Mining Academy.

BSCC also has partnerships with the Alabama Governor’s Office of Workforce Development and the Alabama Technology Network, which assists businesses and industries with training needs.

Max Weaver, dean of the Fayette campus and the Workforce Development and Community Education division, says interaction is key.

“We bring in people from business and industry,” he says, “and talk with them about their needs and how we can help with their training, and we’ll structure our educational opportunities to fit their needs.”

Efforts From All Fronts

Education and training also come from the area high schools through the Walker County Center of Technology. Through this program, students in grades 9-12 participate in work-based learning that is certified to state, national and international standards. Fields of study are varied and include agriscience, architecture and construction, health science, and information technology, among others.

The strength of Walker County’s workforce comes from participation of businesses and industries as well. Fontaine Intermodal, a Jasper-based business unit of Fontaine Trailer Company, helps by donating equipment to the Center of Technology and by providing grant money for various programs.

“It’s important that the vocational training is appropriate for the type people we need,” says Buck Buchanan, president of Fontaine Intermodal.

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