By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
Alabama could have a deficit of nearly 200,000 skilled workers in six years if changes aren’t made, a report from the Business Education Alliance of Alabama said.
“Alabama is on pace to have a shortage of close to 200,000 highly skilled workers by 2025-2026 if nothing changes in the workforce development pipelines,” Joe Morton, the chairman and president of the Business Education Alliance of Alabama, said in a written statement about the report Tuesday.
“Our report sought to discover whether the state has the right tools in place to produce an increased number of highly skilled workers, and what needs to change to ensure those workers are qualified for the jobs that will become available.”
The report signals a widening gap between Alabama’s workforce development system and future workforce needs and says more collaboration is needed between business, education and career and technical training programs to better define what skills an Alabama worker needs.
Last year, Gov. Kay Ivey announced a goal of adding 500,000 newly trained or certified workers to the state by 2025 in order to meet expected job demands. That would mean 60% of the state’s workers would need education beyond high school. In 2017, 43% had a degree or credential.
“In order to give all Alabamians a strong start and a strong finish, it is imperative that we know what is working well in our workforce pipeline and where we can do better,” Ivey said in the press release.
The report also highlighted challenges beyond education:
- Alabama’s population grew at 2.3% between 2010 and 2018, compared to a national average of 5.3%;
- Alabama’s population of people under 25 is declining;
- And at 71.3%, Alabama’s labor force participation rate among adults aged 25 to 64 is the second lowest in the county, only above West Virginia.
In its conclusion, the report said the state’s education systems alone can’’t produce 500,000 trained workers. But there should be a system where all students can be equipped to lead productive lives.
“Every student deserves to be educated in a school that will help them follow a pathway to high school graduation, meaningful college and career readiness, and a job in Alabama that offers opportunity for advancement,” the report said.