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Jeran Culina   ·  

How Alabama Connected Local Businesses with Workforce Stakeholders

To highlight the innovative work of state policymakers across our network, BLU is beginning a series of state policy blogs that will uplift the work of our BLU Affiliate Network. Blogs will focus on the process of how business leaders came together with stakeholders to support funding and/or policy changes that allow for more equitable opportunities for workers and businesses engaged with the workforce development system.  

In 2015 Alabama Workforce Council (AWC) was formed as an employer-led statewide effort to understand the structure, function, organization and perception of the Alabama workforce system. The results of a survey, focus groups and research performed by the AWC showed that while Alabama has abundant educational, state, business support, training and other resources for employers, students and jobseekers, they were not aligned to the ultimate goal of connecting qualified workers with prospective employers. Many organizations in the workforce space worked in silos which created barriers for workers trying to reskill in new careers and for businesses who were trusting in the system to provide skilled labor for their talent needs.  

To address the disconnect, in 2013 The Governor’s College and Career Ready Task Force called for the creation of Regional Workforce Councils (RWCs). Formally established in 2015 by the Alabama Legislature, ten RWCs were created to provide a direct link to the workforce needs of business and industry at the local level. In 2016, the original ten RWCs consolidated into seven, and each is now led by an executive director paid for by funds allocated by the Alabama Legislature. 

How it works
The RWCs are business-driven and work with their member counties to develop a regional strategic plan and comprehensive workforce development system that supports local economic and job development activities. At least 75 percent of the members of each regional council must be employed by business and industry. These regional workforce directors work closely with the business community as well as the Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Community College System, K-12, the Alabama Department of Labor, the Career Center System and other related agencies, to identify and meet the needs of industry and workers. To ensure regional goals are met, regional executive directors work to achieve specific metrics such as conducting needs assessments, creating annual strategic plans, and formulating grant committees. The seven regions are geographically matched to the Workforce Investment Board regions to better align the use of federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds with state workforce development activities. Alignment of funding streams allows for more opportunities for the state to write for additional federal funding, therefore opening new avenues of work for the state to support the Governor’s Success Plus plan.  

How does it help businesses?
A more aligned workforce system allows businesses to have better connections with their workforce system stakeholders. This in turn provides them with the skilled labor they need to address their talent needs. It also provides a stronger connection for workforce stakeholders to understand the needs of the labor market in their region. Workers can then receive the right training to enter the labor market with the skills necessary to succeed.

Current state
Before the codifying of regional workforce councils, businesses and the education sector worked within silos, even though their goals were the same. Today, the work of the AWC and RWCs continue to open the doors of communication between public and private entities, creating and adopting business-driven courses, credentials and certifications that Alabamians need to excel in the workplaceSince 2018workers in Alabama have earned more than 223,000 postsecondary credentials - putting the state on track to meet Success Plus goal of improving statewide levels of education beyond high school. The initiative’s goal is to add 500,000 individuals with postsecondary credentials to Alabama’s workforce by the year 2025. 


In 2016 The Council officially launched AlabamaWorks, a brand standing for opportunity, innovation, accountability and inclusion with the vision of a better future for Alabamians, our state and our economy. Initial partners included the Alabama Department of Labor, AIDT, the Alabama Community College System, the Alabama Technology Network, the K-12 System and the Career Centers.