• MBJ-Web-Banner.jpg
  • Workforce Solutions

    • Share:

    Montgomery is addressing workforce issues and meeting the needs of manufacturing and beyond.

    While manufacturing is, by most accounts, booming in our area, companies still sometimes face issues. One that’s being addressed head-on is the ready availability of a properly educated and trained workforce for the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Mac Mc-Bride, Director of Operations at STERIS, pointed to the important efforts of Alabama Industrial Development Training and others. “The support we get from AIDT is a major positive,” he said. STERIS has had trouble finding qualified machinists, so AIDT sends a mobile classroom to the company. “They do the training onsite with a fulltime instructor,” McBride said.

    AIDT’s primary purpose is to close the skills gap that too often keeps people who need jobs and job openings from matching. “It’s a challenge everywhere, across the country,” Ed Castile, AIDT’s executive director, said.

    The state’s community college system is also tackling the workforce problem, and Jeff Lynn, Senior Executive Director for Workforce and Economic Development, believes the first step toward progress is continued communication. “One of the top things on my agenda when I started in this position last year was to talk to and listen to the companies that we provide workforce to.”

    In manufacturing, he and his team learned of the need for consistency. “There is a big void in providing a baseline certification program for our industrial workforce, so we formed a Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, and from their recommendations, we created a curriculum. We are rolling that out now and are the first state in the country to do it.”

    EYES AHEAD: The Future is Now

    Echoing McBride, Lynn stressed the importance of changing the environment in our K-12 classrooms. “We need to be serious about reaching out to students as young as possible, in elementary school even,” he said. “We need to get them excited about STEM subjects, get them into problem solving, and show them the different careers and opportunities in manufacturing and industrial sectors.”

    An element of Lynn’s strategic plan is changing mindsets too. “We are marketing to millennials and getting them excited about careers in manufacturing,” he said. “We are working with the National Association of Manufacturers ‘Dream It, Do It’ program and using that message to engage parents, educators and students and to combat old stereotypes about manufacturing jobs.”


    Sheron Rose, Vice President of Community Strategies at the Chamber, outlined the Chamber’s outlook on workforce development. “Promoting and aiding workforce development fits perfectly with the Chamber’s mission to enhance business and the quality of life here through the creation and retention of jobs because to do that, you have to have a qualified workforce. And not just a onetime workforce, but a pipeline. That way, we are ready to recruit the companies we want here.”


    AIDT has also created workforce training centers scattered around the state in key regions. There are seven total, including The Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center, which is operated by AIDT in a partnership with several entities including the Montgomery Public Schools, Alabama Community College System, ATN, AUM, the Department of Education and the Chamber.


    The ultimate goal is to provide entry-level training, existing employee upgrade training, two-year technical college level training, and K-12 career training to give area businesses a trained workforce. The center is currently teaching individuals already working in area companies in all sectors, including health care and government in addition to manufacturing, and covers topics like Information Technology, Manufacturing Fundamentals and Workforce Skills training.

    Manufacturing Fundamentals lets employees brush up on hard skills they need in their daily work, things related to technology, robotics and safety. “We’ve had more than 2,000 people go through it in this area,” AIDT’s executive director Ed Castile said. And now, anyone can take advantage of the program. “Anybody can sign up, get training and then get placed in a pool that our manufacturers hire from.” The program also addresses workforce skills, also often called “soft skills.”

    “We see people missing some fundamental things, soft skills like just showing up, being on time, having good attitude,” he said. “We are making sure that we are checking those boxes in everything we do. We don’t want to skip ahead and try to train managers. We are trying to make sure we’ve got some basic people ready for entry-level employment.”

    Recognizing this need and meeting it is a team effort. “We are now working together as a group,” Castile said. “It’s not just the Chamber, not just AUM or Trenholm Tech, not just us at AIDT.” And he has big plans for the future of workforce development. “My hope is that we will get this soft skill stuff done, and then we can really get into the tech and robotics and train the next generation of software developers,” he said. “But we’re not quite there yet.”

    Leave a Comment
    * Required field

  • Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
    600 S. Court St, P.O. Box 79
    Montgomery, Alabama 36101
    Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745

  • Receive the latest announcements and updates.

iStock-499134200 [Converted]