This is an important time for Birmingham.
As communities across the country rethink and update their strategies to prepare their citizens for jobs of the future, the Birmingham region has a competitive advantage with Building (it) Together, the newly released comprehensive labor market analysis released this week by the Bold Goals Coalition Workforce Action Network.
There were no surprises in the findings – education and industry are not in perfect alignment; future jobs will require higher education and relevant skills, particularly technology related; there needs to be more emphasis on nontraditional, out-of-the box programs to promote inclusion and equity.
As an entrepreneur and vice chairman for workforce development for the Birmingham Business Alliance, I see a lot of this work already being done, so I don’t see this as a new beginning, but rather a tipping point, where we need to highlight and replicate great initiatives already underway in the community
This is a time when groups representing industry, education, nonprofits, community funding, workforce initiatives, economic development and others came to one table to work on the challenges that are creating obstacles to economic prosperity for everyone in the seven-county Birmingham region.
Our next steps will be important, too. The findings of the report will continue to be presented at stakeholder meetings through August and armed with feedback and information on existing resources in the region, an action plan will be created to ensure all the partners – particularly those working in and funding the efforts – are working from the same plan and for the same goal.
This initiative does not need to be radical, but the work performed around it will be supercharged, not only by the energy of new partnerships, but also by data, knowledge and recommendations that will provide a clear understanding about the jobs of Birmingham’s future, particularly in life sciences, advanced manufacturing and information technology.
Our hope is this message will be carried to – and eventually by – parents, students, industry leaders, educators, elected officials and communities who can use the Building (it) Together initiative as a tool for improvement.
So, look for great things in the future from the Bold Goals Coalition Workforce Action Network. These are the groups that will be engaging the region and committing stakeholders to action: Alabama Possible, Alabama Power Co., Birmingham Business Alliance, Central Six AlabamaWorks!, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Jefferson State Community College, United Way of Central Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
By Dr. Sanjay Singh
Dr. Sanjay Singh is a local entrepreneur and vice chairman for workforce development for the Birmingham Business Alliance.