PARCA: Shift workforce development efforts into ‘high gear’

A major Alabama research organization believes the state needs to accelerate its workforce development efforts and strengthen the partnership between business and education.

A report by Birmingham-based Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) said these steps need to be taken to make sure Alabama has an adequate supply of skilled and well-educated workers so it can reach its full economic potential. PARCA’s call for action comes as the Alabama Community College System is making plans to ramp up career and technical training programs.

PARCA’s annual meeting on Jan. 31 in Birmingham focused on solutions to the challenges facing Alabama’s economy as baby boomers begin to retire and the state’s slow population growth creates too few workers to replace them.

“Many elements of an effective workforce strategy are being developed in Alabama, but it is imperative that we shift those efforts into high gear,” PARCA said in its report. “There are clouds gathering on the horizon: demographic and technological trends that could keep the state and its people from reaping the full reward from the economic development investments already made.”

PARCA said ACCS is among organizations around the state taking steps to produce a better-skilled and better-educated workforce.

“The state’s system of two-year colleges is aiding in that effort by deploying career coaches to K-12 schools, by working to expand dual enrollment opportunities for high school students, and by establishing next generation apprenticeship programs in cooperation with business and industry,” the PARCA report said.

Read the full report here.

ACCS Chancellor Mark Heinrich attended the PARCA annual meeting and participated in a panel discussion on recommendations made by the College and Career Ready Task Force to Governor Robert Bentley. Heinrich chaired the task force’s Soft Skills Subcommittee.