BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) has launched its first of several programs designed to help students find immediate employment, including in the trucking industry.
“This is an exciting time for the community college system,” ACCS Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker said in a presentation Monday at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. “We will step up and meet the need if we know what the need is.”
The Innovation Center’s rapid training programs will help trainees find jobs quickly, but also help cut the state’s supply chain problems and small business closures, said Mara Harrison, interim executive director of the Innovation Center.
Hospitality courses began last month and commercial driving courses for 18-wheelers and passenger buses, such as school buses, are ready, said Harrison. Training programs for grocery butchers, heavy equipment operators, plumbing and facilities maintenance are among the first to target high-demand industries, AL.com reported.
Each program includes classroom courses that can be taken virtually, along with in-person lab work that will focus on hands-on training at regional community college locations. Students who complete the training will get an ACCS credential and be ready to work when they complete the courses, Harrison said.
Twenty-three rapid training programs will be offered. The training is job-specific and was developed by businesses and industries to help students find jobs immediately with employers who are struggling to find workers.
The Innovation Center will be based in Decatur, Alabama, Baker said. The program has first-year funding of $10 million approved from the state’s education fund, he said.
Mark Colson, president and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association, said the nation’s commercial trucking industry is facing a critical shortage of about 80,000 professional drivers.
“We’re feeling the driver shortage in Alabama,” Colson said.
He said that increasing the role of the community college system in training commercial drivers, diesel mechanics and tractor-trailer repairers should help enhance the training pipeline.
“We are proud to partner with the Alabama Community College System to ramp up efforts to attract and connect job-seekers with the training they need to enter the trucking industry,” he said. “The ACCS Innovation Center is the right program to supercharge the availability of CDL offerings in our state and enhance the existing programs that are already preparing our future workforce.”
The Innovation Center has already successfully collaborated with the Alabama Tourism Department to help workers train for and find jobs in the state’s $16 billion hospitality industry, thanks to a $1 million grant from Gov. Kay Ivey. All graduates of this pilot training project hosted by Coastal Community College were matched with jobs and 100% of students were hired upon completion of the training, officials said.
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