How Mobile’s Business Community & Educators are Working Together to Build a Robust Workforce
The Mobile Chamber Economic Development team is working to bring in projects and expansions that increase new jobs in the labor market. Jobs in the Mobile area grew by 7,257 over the last five years and are expected to grow by 6,362 over the next five years. While the prospect of bringing in so many jobs is exciting, it brings in a new challenge: Who will fill these jobs?
What’s next: The Mobile Chamber created the Mobile Area Workforce Alliance (MAWA) to work through this and find the answer. The MAWA first assembled in the fall of 2022 with the goal of producing the needed workforce in the Mobile area.
“I firmly believe collaboration is the key to unlocking our region’s true potential. Through this collective effort, we can foster a dynamic workforce ecosystem, and empower our community with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to seize on job growth in the Mobile area,” said Mobile Chamber President & CEO Bradley Byrne.
This Alliance is comprised of:
- The Chickasaw City School System
- The Mobile County Public School System
- The Saraland City School System
- The Satsuma City School System
- The Mobile Area Education Foundation
- Bishop State Community College
- Coastal Alabama Community College
- The University of South Alabama
- Spring Hill College
- The University of Mobile
- Alabama Industrial Development Training
- Southwest Alabama Partnership for Training and Employment
- South Alabama Workforce Development Council
- The Mobile Chamber.
MAWA provided an update on education levels and fields of study in Mobile. They also defined their objectives moving forward.
Why it matters: MAWA aims to showcase career opportunities for Mobile area students.
What they’re saying: “The educational providers in the Mobile area are committed to providing diverse opportunities for individuals to realize their academic and career goals. It is crucial that we collaborate and align these endeavors as a united front to bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and real-world demands, guaranteeing a smooth passage into the professions that are essential for our economic growth,” said Kellie Snodgrass, Workforce and Career Development Manager at the Mobile Chamber. “Providing clear paths to careers will enhance the overall quality of life for our community and the generations to come.”
To meet this goal, the Alliance has developed four pillars:
Under each pillar, they have defined measurable objectives and action steps to complete them.
Develop an integrated, seamless system of education and workforce development programs, initiatives, and resources that are focused on business needs and worker preparation.
- Ensure education and training address & validate skill and competency needs and attainment. Ensure the alignment of university, community college and K-12 public school curriculum offerings to meet local employers’ short-term and long-term needs.
- Focus resources on the identification and alignment of career pathways to help individuals gain credentials, skills and experience for in-demand occupations.
- Establish a framework that facilitates coordination and collaboration between education and workforce development programs. This includes developing communication channels, sharing resources and aligning goals and objectives across different stakeholders to ensure integration and effectiveness.
- Identify individuals who can be guided toward available positions:
- High School Students
- College Students
- Adults not in the workforce
- Transitioning military personnel
- Ensure that programs offered at local community colleges and colleges/universities are tailored to meet the specific requirements of local employers. Ensure that career and technical education (CTE) programs at local high schools are aligned with the demands of local employers. Facilitate seamless coordination and connection between these programs.
- Expand dual enrollment programs.
- Develop new programs and opportunities that align with the needs of critical industries.
Develop a responsive workforce system that enhances Mobile’s competitive advantage by expanding and improving career pathways and by equipping students with the skills to pursue rewarding careers in critical industries.
- Identify gaps in funding for educational programs or training programs.
- Gain a clear understanding of obstacles and challenges that hinder individuals currently underrepresented in the workforce from gaining employment.
- Provide alternative educational pathways that align with career interests to expand access for non-academic degree-seeking students.
- Enhance career counseling & guidance services to provide comprehensive career guidance to individuals at various stages of their education and career journey.
- Identify the barriers individuals have faced when attempting to enter the workforce & collaborate to find solutions.
- Increase career coach presence at local educational institutions and include career exploration, aptitude assessments, and personal guidance to help individuals make informed decisions about their educational and career pathways within the integrated education and workforce system.
- Create legislative requests & identify grant opportunities for funding targeted programs or projects.
K-12 & Post-Secondary
- Recruit enrollment of HS seniors not planning to attend college into the workforce programs offered at local 2-year & 4-year institutions.
- Increase career coach presence at local educational institutions.
Develop and implement a coordinated and seamless approach to engage businesses, respond to their needs, and increase the education pipeline, competency-based credentials, work-based learning opportunities, and better connections to jobs in critical career clusters.
- Improve collaboration between educational institutions & employers.
- Increase awareness & support for Career & Technical Education in the Mobile area.
- Increase the number of job shadows, internships, work-based learning, and career exploration activities.
- Develop Career Tech Advisory Committee to advocate for initiatives of the workforce alliance.
Career Technical Education
- Create protocols for business reps & industry sector groups to contribute to the design & delivery of coursework.
- Collaborate to align career exploration, industry opportunity exposure & work-based learning.
- Increase the number of job shadows, internships, work-based learning, etc.
Develop uniform career awareness and mapping information and services to improve enrollment, completion, retention, and migration to employment in high-demand sectors.
- Identify opportunities for teachers to stay up to date with industry needs and trends, to position curriculum appropriately, and to integrate work-based learning into their programs.
- Promote awareness and accessibility of local employment opportunities and training programs.
- Conduct local PR and messaging campaigns to inform the general public about growing local industries & the careers they provide.
- Attract new workers from local & regional groups currently underrepresented in the workforce.
- Attract new workers to the Mobile area from other places.
- Identify opportunities for teachers to help them stay current with industry trends, enhance curriculum appropriately and integrate work-based learning into their programs.
- Develop outreach and marketing campaigns to promote awareness of integrated education and workforce programs, initiatives, local growing industries, the careers they provide, and the resources available.
- Provide information to students, parents, educators, and businesses about the system’s benefits and ensure accessibility for all individuals seeking education and career opportunities.
- Work with industry partners to develop a portfolio of immersion in industry experiences.
Southwest Area Workforce Development Council
- Educator Workforce Academy
- Mobile Industry Days
- FAM (Familiarization) Tours
- Showcase Mobile
About the Mobile Chamber
The Mobile Chamber is a private business organization with more than 1,700 members and the economic developer for the City of Mobile and Mobile County. The Mobile Chamber’s focus is to provide members with networking, marketing and professional development opportunities, expand jobs in the area, develop the local workforce, advocate legislative priorities and offer resources to help small businesses grow. Additional information is on the Chamber’s website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.