In the weeks following the release of the Building (it) Together report, many have felt inspired to take action and have asked the question, “What’s next?” While there are exciting possibilities and bold goals for the future of our seven-county region, a better place to start might be, “What’s already being done?”
According to the Building (it) Together report, less than 22 percent of Greater Birmingham’s workforce is highly skilled, which reinforces the need to better align education and job training with industry. Below you’ll find numerous programs, institutions and organizations that are doing just that– working to improve our city’s economic future.
- Alabama Possible: Alabama Possible manages Cash for College Alabama, which builds a college-going culture by equipping families to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). During its 2017-18 campaign, Alabama had the nation’s fourth highest increase in FAFSA completion, and Alabama students and families can leverage $60 million in Pell Grants to pay for education after high school. Cash for College Alabama is a partnership of Alabama Possible, the Alabama State Department of Education, Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama, and the Alabama Media Group. Additional collaborators include the Alabama Commission on Higher Education and the Alabama Community College System.
- Alabama Workforce Training Center: The Alabama Workforce Training Center is based in Birmingham and focuses on the training needs of existing and new employers in the manufacturing and construction trade skills. The AWTC is operated by AIDT in partnership with several entities including the Birmingham Business Alliance, private manufacturing and construction companies, Alabama Works, community colleges, The Alabama Technology Network, the State Department of Education and the Central Six Workforce Development Council.
- Apple’s Everyone Can Code: Lawson is the host and curriculum developer for the Birmingham Can Code Bootcamps for middle and high school students in the Birmingham City Schools. Students are participating in a variation of the Apple’s Everyone Can Code program, which teaches students basic Swift Programming Language (Coding) concepts before advancing, by the end of the program, to build fully functioning apps. There are four one-week sessions being offered this summer.
- Athena Collective: To catalyze inclusive economic growth, the Athena Collective cultivates an infrastructure to empower women and connects women with advocates and resources.
- Bevill State Community College: Bevill State Community College’s Workforce Solutions Division provides many training opportunities to educate and prepare a skilled workforce that is able to meet the needs of today’s industry standards, while also preparing the labor force for tomorrow’s opportunities. Bevill State Community College (BSCC) offers full-service business solutions geared toward assisting companies in making sound investments in the development of employees. In an ever changing global economy, it is imperative to have a well-trained skilled workforce. BSCC provides training opportunities through Training for Existing Business and Industry, short-term Skills Training, Alabama Mining Academy, Adult Education/GED, and the Alabama Career Center System.
- Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA): The BBA has a robust workforce development program, including OnBoard Birmingham, Magic City Summer and its Talent Recruitment Project (TRP). OnBoard Birmingham helps regional employers recruit and retain professionals in their companies and in Birmingham. The program is a part of TRP, an ongoing workforce development effort to help attract and retain talent in the Birmingham region. Magic City Summer is a summer-long program for college interns working in Birmingham to expose them to the city with the hopes of keeping them employed here after they graduate from college.
- Birmingham City Schools Career Academies: The Birmingham City Schools offers Career Academies in architecture and construction, arts and environmental science, business and finance, engineering, health sciences, hospitality and tourism, information technology and urban educators. Different programs are offered at different schools to expose students to careers in that field.
- Birmingham Education Foundation: At the Birmingham Education Foundation, students are its first priority. The Foundation is driven by an urgency to help students reach their potential. Driven by four main principals, collaboration, communication, innovation and belief, the Foundation offers a number of programs including Educate Local, Ed Network and SAIL.
- Birmingham-Southern College: Birmingham-Southern College (BSC) blends experiential learning and the liberal arts to equip students with critical thinking skills to lead lives of significance. The rise3 program provides all students research, internships, and service opportunities; the Norton Board and Panther Partnerships provide personalized mentoring with professionals in many fields. BSC partners with two-year colleges to ensure a pathway to a bachelor’s degree, and with graduate schools to give students a head start in nursing, law, engineering, and environmental studies. Two-thirds of graduates remain in Alabama; finance, health care, and education are primary employment fields. The 2018 tuition reset increased student access.
- Central Six AlabamaWorks: The mission of Central Six AlabamaWorks is to create a 21st century workforce that is proactive, responsive and results driven, supports the region’s diverse population and employers, and provides quality job opportunities in support of a vibrant regional economy. Central Six believes workforce development and economic development depend on one another, and its goal is to develop programs that will accommodate current and future training needs.
- City of Birmingham Department of Youth Services Summer Internship Programs: Two programs, the executive program and the explorer program, make up this experience. The executive program provides students from 16 to 21 with a unique opportunity to establish a foundation for their career path. The explorer program provides students from 16 to 21 with an introduction to the workforce and a chance to explore one of the various professions offered. The Division of Youth Services provides job training to help program participants sharpen their professional skills. Students who qualify are provided with valuable work experience and companies gain much needed summer help.
- Covalence: Founded by developers that are Microsoft alumni, Covalence teaches the next generation of developers everything they know about succeeding as software developers, turning novices into employed software developers.
- Holy Family Christo Rey Catholic Holy School: Students at Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School are empowered to pursue higher education, instilled with the confidence they need to thrive and provided with invaluable professional experience through the unique and innovative Corporate Work Study Program (CWSP). The CWSP is a separately incorporated entity that functions as an employment agency within Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School. Students attend school four days a week and on the fifth day work from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. performing entry-level work, such as answering phones, maintaining files, sorting and delivering mail, scanning and faxing documents, performing data entry and creating documents with Microsoft Office.
- Impact Alabama: Impact Alabama was founded in 2004 as the state’s first nonprofit dedicated to developing substantive service-learning and leadership development projects for college students and recent college graduates. Some of these programs include SpeakFirst, which uses academic debate as a platform to support these students and guide them on a path toward excellence in college and beyond, and CollegeFirst, which pairs college mentors with promising high school students to strengthen foundational concepts in preparation for the rigor of Advanced Placement coursework.
- Innovate Birmingham: This program allows participants to participate in free training programs to help them get hired in the information technology industry. Programs include the IT Specialist Workshop, coding bootcamps and scholarships.
- Innovation Depot: Innovation Depot is 140,000 square feet of office, lab and coworking space, all designed for startups. As the largest tech startup program in the Southeast, the Depot offers programs like Velocity Accelerator and Ignite coworking space.
- Lawson State Community College: Lawson State has two campuses (Birmingham and Bessemer) with one mission to serve its students, customers, and clients by providing a quality education, cutting edge career paths, credentials, and global training opportunities in automotive and transportation, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and mechatronics, Swift Programming languages and computer science, robotics, and STEM workforce. Lawson has the number one ranked nursing program in the State of Alabama and the largest automotive training program in the southeastern region of the United States. Additionally, Lawson established its STEM Center of Excellence in August 2017 with more than ten established partnerships with local, state, and federal funding agencies to increase the STEM workforce.
- Leadership Alabama: Leadership Alabama gives established leaders across Alabama exposure to the broader fabric of the state. It develops a network of relationships and provides a structure for this network to seek mutual understanding of problems and priorities for Alabama’s future. Leadership Alabama encourages its members to act, individually and in concert, to move Alabama forward to help our state reach its full potential.
- Leadership Birmingham: The purpose of Leadership Birmingham is to ensure that leaders in the community are educated about current issues and challenges in the region. This is accomplished by bringing together a group of 50 leaders each year from diverse backgrounds. Through a series of monthly programs, these leaders come to know and understand more about the community and one another as they explore issues and exchange ideas. The goal is that they are better equipped with information and networks to be more effective as leaders.
- Momentum: In 2001, a group of dynamic, high-level leaders convened to discuss a means to elevate the professional potential of women throughout the state of Alabama. Momentum has been changing the landscape of possibilities for aspiring executive women ever since, developing their leadership skills and increasing their numbers, effectiveness and visibility. In turn, these women shape policy in their organizations and communities, impacting hundreds of women in their workplace and local networks.
- Samford University: Ranked among the top in the nation, Samford University offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs that equip graduates to meet the most advanced needs of the workforce. With a student body representing 45 states and 30 countries, Samford is a significant importer of talent to the city and state. New programs in business, healthcare and data science serve the most demanded jobs of the future. The university’s recently launched College of Health Sciences fosters cutting-edge interprofessional education and experiential learning. Health sciences students benefit from clinical affiliation agreements with more than 1,200 healthcare organizations around the world.
- Stream Innovations: This organization addresses the STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) educational and career pipeline by offering programs such as STREAM Saturdays and STREAM Coding Boot Camp to students across Birmingham.
- TEALS: TEALS helps high schools build and grow sustainable computer science programs through partnerships between classroom teachers and tech industry volunteers. They work as a team to deliver computer science education to students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn computer science in their school.
- University of Alabama at Birmingham: Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education, UAB is an internationally renowned comprehensive research university and academic medical center, and the state of Alabama’s largest single employer. With almost 21,000 students and more than 23,000 employees, UAB’s economic impact exceeds $7.15 billion annually in the state. UAB Hospital, the much acclaimed centerpiece of the UAB Health System, is one of the nation’s largest and most advanced, seeing more than 1 million patient visits a year. With more than $560 million in annual research expenditures, and a top 25 overall and top 10 public institution in funding from the National Institutes of Health, UAB is a national leader in innovation and discovery. In 2018, Times Higher Education ranked UAB the top young university in the U.S. and No. 10 worldwide in its World University Rankings–Young Universities. Learn more at www.uab.edu and www.uab.edu/didyouknow.
- UAB and Jefferson State Community College Joint Admissions Program: Jefferson State was one of four community colleges to partner with the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2013. (The other schools are Gadsden State, Lawson State and Wallace State-Hanceville.) The Joint Admission Program provides automatic acceptance to UAB and a $2,000 per year scholarship for students who earn an associate degree at participating institutions. It also allows students in the program to access UAB amenities and resources while enrolled in community college.
- UAB Collat School of Business Experiential Learning Requirement: All degree-seeking students in the UAB Collat School of Business entering in the fall 2015 semester or later are required to engage in one of several options for an Experiential Learning Requirement. Some of these options include an internship, a business analysis project, education abroad, service learning or a research project.
- UAB Commercialization Accelerator: The University of Alabama at Birmingham Commercialization Accelerator provides the facilities, training opportunities, guidance and funding strategy necessary for students, faculty and staff to launch and nurture startup companies that will create jobs and enhance regional economic health.
- University of Montevallo: The University of Montevallo offers students personalized, high-impact teaching and learning that combine classroom with real-world experience. Students receive a small-school private experience at a public university price. The institution offers a wide variety of programs across the arts and sciences; business; education; and the fine arts at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Most recently it has added undergraduate programs in computer informatics and film production, and it is developing a degree in computer science—all of which address key workforce needs.
- Venture for America: Venture for America was founded because so many high-potential recent college grads were heading to only a handful of cities, like New York or San Francisco, but not many were seeking opportunities in places like Birmingham. VFA connects its fellows with startup opportunities in cities across the country. They live and work there, paired with more experienced entrepreneurs. They can learn alongside them and help grow companies to create jobs and revitalize those communities. After their Fellowships are over, many VFA alums choose to stay in these communities and call them home.
- Wallace State Community College: Wallace State Community College (WSCC), with campuses in Hanceville and Oneonta, is consistently ranked among the Top 3 institutions in the South for workforce development training. The college works closely with economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, and business and industry leaders to ensure that training programs meet current industry standards, and to develop apprenticeships and specialized training options to meet local needs. Programs are offered in a wide array of career technical, health care and academic fields leading to middle and advanced skill, high-demand careers, as well as for university transfer.
As we progress toward a world that relies upon and thrives with the aid of technology and other traded industries, it’s vital that we continue to invest in future generations. Thanks to many local programs, institutions and organizations, that work has already begun. Will you join us in building (the future) together?
To learn more or to find out how you can be a part of strengthening our region’s economic future, download the full Building (it) Together report today.