The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News 2

August 29, 2010

Specialized skills training needed to aid local economic recovery

— When a rail car manufacturing plant was opening in the shoals, the company needed 600 welders. There were not enough workers skilled in this trade to fill the slots.

Alabama Industrial Development Training answered the need. Limestone County Economic Development Association President Tom Hill regularly meets with an AIDT committee that identifies local industry training needs.

“There’s a lot of workforce development training going on in this state,” said Hill. “District 2 is comprised of eight counties of which we are a part of in North Alabama. I’m part of a committee of recruiters and academic representatives that meets regularly to give advice to junior colleges and reviews grant applications.

AIDT is an institution of the Alabama Community College System with the mission of providing job-specific training.

“Companies are still challenged to find skilled workers, which are not at the level Alabama employers want to see,” said Hill. “AIDT is charged with working with new companies. The Robotics Center that is opening in September is a vital part of this. The center is under the management of Calhoun Community College and AIDT.”

Calhoun has a technology curriculum that offers, among other courses, CAD-CAM design, machine tooling and aerospace technology.

AIDT has training centers in Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile and Sylacauga. The agency has project-based facilities at Honda in Lincoln, Hyundai in Hope Hull, Mercedes-Benz U.S. in Vance and ThyssenKrupp Steel & Stainless in Calvert.

AIDT is currently seeking applicants for day classes in maritime welding at the Bryant School in Irvington.

According to a Reuters News Service story, which cites a worldwide Manpower Inc. survey, since the 1970s, parents have been told that a university degree was the only track to a financially secure profession.

“But all of the skilled trades offer a career path with an almost assured income,” said Manpower Chief Executive Jeff Joerres.

Joerres goes on to say that the shortage of specialized skills such as electricians, carpenters and welders are an obstacle to global economic recovery.

One of the reasons for the skilled trades shortages, Manpower found, is that most of the workers are over 50 and nearing retirement.

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