Building (it) Together aims to align education with jobs in Birmingham

 Dr. Ray Watts, president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, speaks at the Building (it) Together initiative launch.

Dr. Ray Watts, president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, speaks at the Building (it) Together initiative launch.

Last week the Bold Goals Coalition of Central Alabama’s Workforce Action Network, which includes the Birmingham Business Alliance, released a major report and launched a public engagement campaign focused on aligning education, economic development and workforce development to increase job growth in the Birmingham seven-county region. The Building (it) Together initiative launched at the Alabama Workforce Training Center.

Throughout the summer, the network will share findings from the report, “Building (it) Together: A Framework for Aligning Education and Jobs in Greater Birmingham,” and engage the public in interactive presentations on the findings. 

The report was developed by Burning Glass Technologies and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL). Birmingham is only the second region nationwide to commission such a report from Burning Glass, following Pittsburgh, Pa.

Findings included:

• Employment in the Greater Birmingham region is projected to grow 8.9 percent over the next 10 years.

• Specific career fields that will experience supply gaps over the next 10 years include information technology (IT) and business and financial operations.

• The region is lacking skilled and relevant workforce talent, and education and industry are misaligned.

The event featured speakers including University of Alabama at Birmingham President Dr. Ray Watts, Alabama Possible Executive Director Kristina Scott and local entrepreneur and Birmingham Business Alliance Vice Chair of Workforce Development Dr. Sanjay Singh.

“We live in a knowledge-based economy where the most important resource is our workforce,” Singh said. “We have to proactively ensure they are equipped, trained and aligned with our growing industries. The Birmingham Business Alliance will work with our community partners and educational institutions to implement the recommendations of the Building (it) Together initiative.”

The kickoff also allowed attendees to discuss the study’s findings in small groups and give suggestions on how the region can align education and jobs over the next eight to 10 years.