West Alabama Works Hosting Outreach Events Across Region
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Aajene Robinson
West Alabama Works serves as the region’s central hub for workforce development efforts and training.
During the pandemic, they have been hosting pop-up outreach events over the last several months, within every county in the entire region. More events are on the way, but no dates have been set.
Most of West Alabama Works are virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’ll soon be integrating virtual reality into a lot of their training.
WAW is working with partners from Pinnacle Renewable Energy.
They’ve also partnered with Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which will be adding more than 3,200 new permanent jobs over the next three years.
West Alabama Works is also working with partners in the Central Alabama region to launch a new Homtex Inc. plant and is working with partners in the Black Belt.
Chief Operating Officer for the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama Donny Jones said unemployment rates are getting better across the country, even in the wake of the pandemic.
“We are almost down to around the 4% unemployment rate in this region, which is pretty amazing when you think about it,” he said. “I look at it sometimes with a workforce perspective as a curse to have that low unemployment because it’s very hard, but it is a blessing.”
If you’re on the lookout for a new job, West Alabama Works has a Career Connect system that helps workers connect with potential new employers.
“When you look at our Career Connect system, which is in 15 counties now,” he said. “People can get into that system either on the website or on their cell phones, in our kiosk and the local libraries.”
The organization is putting a strong emphasis on the Black Belt and other rural Alabama counties.
Jones said they want to get into these counties to build a better workforce for tomorrow.
“We are going to be out there, and we are going to be on the ground with those folks,” he said. “That’s why you see the outreach event that’s coming up in Demopolis because those businesses still need workers and so we are going to be innovative and creative.”
Jones said when a crisis hits and businesses are suffering, that’s when organizations like West Alabama Works and the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama are the busiest.