With low unemployment in our county, state and country, we are seeing a renewed emphasis by local and national leaders on those people who make up our workforce.
September is National Workforce Development Month, which is part of a campaign by the National Association of State Workforce Agencies to raise the profile of this important issue.
These challenges are seen by employers and consumers alike through the availability of jobs, their take-home pay and the costs of goods and services.
Workforce development is a simple idea, but can be complicated to implement. We need to train individuals to fill jobs and roles needed by industry and other employers. What makes this a significant challenge is that we need to train young people now for jobs that may not even exist yet.
Currently, the United States has an unemployment rate of 2.6%, with Alabama at 3.2% and Etowah County at 3.3%. These numbers represent a low number of people actively looking for jobs, especially considering that many economists consider 5% unemployment to be full employment.
Read this:A groundbreaking California law to address workplace diversity was overturned. What happens now?
From USA TODAY:A new gender gap surfaces. Men recovered all jobs lost during the pandemic. Women have not.
A more challenging statistic is that Alabama’s labor participation rate is 57.6%, which means that of the work-age population, fewer than 6 out of 10 people are working.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has a wide range of technical and soft skills program offerings designed to help bridge the skills gap and prepare individuals to be successful from the start of their job search through their last day on the job.
Extension technical skills programs cover a wide range of topics from landscaping, to food safety, ServeSafe and more.
ACES also offers soft skills programs covering pre-employment topics such as résumé and cover letter writing and interview preparation, and post-employment topics such as meeting employer expectations, time management and workplace communication.
We also offer youth leadership, financial literacy and career exploration programs through Alabama 4-H.
We have several programs through Extension that work to develop our workforce. A big highlight is Your Money, Your Life, which teaches students what career options are available and how to manage their finances.
For adults, we offer Job Success to working and prospective employees to teach them the soft skills needed to get and keep a job.
If any of these programs sound interesting to you, or you have questions about other Alabama Cooperative Extension System programs in our community, please reach out or stop by our office at 3200A W. Meighan Blvd., call us at 256-547-7936 or visit us on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3otwUdl or online at https://bit.ly/3yniPCx.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome! Please let us know if you have accessibility needs.
Eric Wright is an extension coordinator for the Etowah County Extension Office.