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The aerospace industry is one of the key clusters in Southwest Alabama, and includes several of the largest employers in the region. This cluster employs highly-skilled workers in the region who earn above average wages. The aerospace industry bolsters the Southwest Alabama regions reputation as a leader in high technology and innovation.

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The manufacturing cluster in Southwest Alabama includes a wide range of advanced manufacturing companies. Process manufacturers in the region include leading producers of steel, chemicals, and paper related products. The region's skilled workforce supports manufacturing which directly employs over 25,000 workers in Southwest Alabama.

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Southwest Alabama supports a major maritime cluster, spearheaded by its renowned shipbuilding industry. The Mobile Bay gives the region a natural advantage to propel and sustain this highly competitive cluster. The maritime cluster includes not only shipbuilding, but port activities and the economic activity generated by water transportation enterprises.

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Southwest Alabama is home to a vibrant health care community that includes not only health care providers but researches and educators as well. The healthcare industry is a stabilizing force in the regional labor market that can stay strong and expand employment throughout the economic cycle. The healthcare cluster provides world-class treatment for residents in Southwest Alabama while also providing challenging and rewarding jobs.

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In a growing region like Southwest Alabama, the construction sector provides key support in the expansion of the infrastructure. Construction employed approximately 17,000 workers in the region in 2010. It is expected to grow quickly, adding close to 3,000 additional jobs over the next ten years. The construction cluster is an important cog in Southwest Alabama's economy as it continues to expand in size and diversity.

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September 24 - 25, 2014

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What does it take to have a successful future? That's the question that was asked of 10,600 area eighth graders in September of 2013 at the fourth annual SAWDC Worlds of Opportunity Career Expo. At the 2013 event, public and private school students visited the Mobile Civic Center over the course of a two-day period for a hands-on, interactive career exploration experience led by business professionals from twelve key South Alabama industries. The resounding message to students attending this event is that there are three ingredients to success: graduate from high school, remain drug free, and the lifestyle choices of today will have a direct impact on future success.


Aligning Regional Workforce Efforts: An Effective Industry-Informed Strategy

Regional collaboration can be an effective approach in responding to labor demands of local employers. In this Economic Development podcast presented by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Laura Chandler of the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council and Sam Covert, long time board member of the Mobile Area Educational Foundation and SAWDC Chairman, discuss how robust coordination among local workforce development players leads to more successful management of industry partnerships.

To view the transcript or listen to the podcast, click here.


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SAWDC, one of thirty-two nationally designated National Fund for Workforce Solutions (NFWS) sites, has established four high quality workforce partnerships - a sound strategy modeled by NFWS for helping individuals obtain and advance in good careers while at the same time ensuring that employers have high-quality skills that are needed to compete in today's dynamic economy.  The four industry clusters - aviation, maritime, industrial construction/manufacturing, and healthcare - were chosen due to the high demand and high growth prospects for these industries.  With a dual customer approach, SAWDC convenes, organizes key stakeholders, and maintains persistent attention to the needs of the two main customers: employers and workers.  By engaging employers and other partners in identifying workforce needs, SAWDC aligns funding from various sources and brokers services that address the career advancement needs of employers and lower-skilled adults.

The solutions extend beyond training or education programs.  SAWDC identifies better ways to provide these services and progammatic improvements to systems or policies. The resulting job training and career supports that meet the needs of both employers and employees in these four industry clusters has proven critical to the region's economy.

To read more, click here.





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National Fund for Workforce Solutions to Present Award in June for Excellence in Workforce Development

BOSTON – (June 3, 2014)—The National Fund for Workforce Solutions (National Fund), a national partnership of communities, employers, workers, and philanthropy, has named Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC) in Mobile, Alabama as a recipient of its 2014 Chairman’s Award for Exemplary Collaborative.

Fred Dedrick, executive director of the National Fund, said of this recognition, “SAWDC is highly deserving of this award. As a high-performing collaborative partner, SAWDC has established a proven track record of strong employer leadership in developing demand-driven training and credentialing programs that align closely with regional economic development priorities. It is not surprising that their efforts are gaining statewide and national recognition.”

Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC) is one of ten Regional Workforce Development Councils established in Alabama to provide a direct link to the workforce needs of business and industry at the local level. Business-driven and business-led, SAWDC’s integrated, comprehensive workforce development system serves as a key tool for economic development, the recruitment of new businesses, and the expansion of existing business and industry.

SAWDC Board Chairman, Sam Covert with Alabama Power Company, adds that “we are dedicated at SAWDC to building a world class workforce from the people who reside in our communities in order to enhance the quality of life for all our citizens and to meet the needs of our employers. This award affirms the commitment we made to prove ourselves worthy of this selection and is the result of the combined work of all our partners.”

SAWDC’s partnership with the National Fund has led to an even more effective implementation mode by providing SAWDC with a clear framework and a discipline for supporting and sustaining its four industry clusters in aviation, maritime, healthcare, and industrial construction and manufacturing—brokering services that address the needs of employers and lower-skilled adults.

Sandra Koblas, Director of Human Resources, Austal USA, and SAWDC Chairman-elect noted, “One of the most critical challenges facing the maritime industry is the availability of technically skilled workers. Our partnership with SAWDC enables us to overcome this challenge. SAWDC’s integrated approach to workforce development cultivates a skilled labor pool that meets our needs. We are most grateful for the resources provided by SAWDC through their partnership with the National Fund. This is by far the best approach to workforce development that I have experienced in my 25 plus years in industry.”

In partnership with such organizations as Alabama Industrial Development Training and the Central Gulf Industrial Alliance, SAWDC convenes, organizes key stakeholders, and maintains persistent attention to the needs of the two main customers: employers and workers. Key SAWDC investors, whose funding has been leveraged to accomplish this work, include the Community Foundation of South Alabama, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Mobile, and Mobile County.

Since 2011, SAWDC has served 978 jobseekers and incumbent workers and enrolled 720 into training. A total of 526 jobseekers were managed into careers; 145 incumbent workers received wage increases; and 544 industry-recognized credentials were earned. In fact, the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development is actively working to replicate the SAWDC model throughout the State.

Executive Director, Laura Chandler, and representatives from SAWDC will formally receive their award at the National Fund Fourth Annual Meeting from June 17-19, 2014 in Chicago, IL. Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council (SAWDC) is one of two collaboratives nationwide selected to receive this year’s Chairman’s Award for Exemplary Collaborative. The other collaborative to receive this award is SkillUp Washington.


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