West Alabama Works is a joint initiative developed by the Region 3 Workforce Development Council and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama working to improve workforce development efforts throughout West Alabama. With a mission to promote economic prosperity and employment throughout West Alabama, West Alabama Works supports businesses in finding talented workers and helps workers in developing new skills and careers. West Alabama Works serves as the region’s central hub for workforce development efforts and training.
Through West Alabama Works, business and industry leaders have been able to create a workforce development system that supports all levels of development and serves to benefit both employers and jobseekers. Four industry clusters have been developed to address the needs of individual industry sectors: automotive, healthcare, construction, and manufacturing. Leaders of each sector work together to minimize duplication of services and maximize the region’s potential by communicating key workforce needs to educators, public officials, businesses, and workers in the nine-county region.
The Manufacturing Cluster is a task force of local manufacturers, machine shops, community colleges, and technical high schools working to create opportunities for individuals interested in developing machine and manufacturing skills. West Alabama Works partners with the City of Tuscaloosa, the county school system, and industry partners to develop welding and machine training programs. West Alabama Works is also developing financial literacy and supervisor training courses for its industry partners. For additional support, industry partners can list their job openings with ACT WorkKeys and utilize resources for on-the-job training for incumbent workers.
Health Care Cluster
Early in development, the Tuscaloosa Health Care Cluster is working to increase interest in health care careers and organize local health care providers to collectively address the region’s workforce needs. The Health Care Cluster is focusing on recruitment initiatives such as hiring fairs, student fairs, and increased involvement with schools to spark greater interest in health care professions.
The Tuscaloosa Construction Cluster works with construction companies and educators to create a pipeline of eligible and trained employees. The Cluster is currently working with Shelton State to establish and expand Department of Labor-registered apprenticeships, including a carpentry apprenticeship currently in operation and two additional apprenticeships in development. Cluster members work with high school and career tech counselors and teachers to develop a curriculum for students interested in construction trades. The Cluster supports the career tech programs in both the city and county school systems by advising program teachers, donating resources and supplies, and participating in the annual Worlds of Work Career Expo.
Partnering with local community colleges and manufacturers, the Automotive Cluster develops the region’s automotive manufacturing workforce by offering Ready-to-Work training for individuals and companies, operating a mobile classroom teaching automotive skills, and working with local educators to develop specialized courses for high-demand skills. The Ready-to-Work programs address the industry’s high turnover rates and help employees development critical technical and soft skills, and the mobile RTW program is a mobile classroom outfitted with 25 laptops that can go to outlying communities and offer specialized training. The cluster is also working with community colleges and the technical high schools to offer specialized courses teaching skills requested by local manufacturers and operates a task force of automotive businesses to set new standards for hiring and staffing. West Alabama Works also held an Automotive career fair in which 2,100 people learned about automotive careers and more than 60 individuals gained employment.