West Alabama Works wants everyone to know that fewer jobs in the coal industry doesn’t mean fewer jobs in general.

Other industries in Alabama, like the automotive industry, are growing. But getting these new jobs means getting training first.

West Alabama Works officially opened its Brookwood career center today. The building, across the street from Brookwood City Hall, was designed to help people prepare for and find jobs.

District 2 Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Jerry Tingle said job training like this is important for the entire area.

“Since the early ’90s we’ve had workforce development, but it wasn’t organized in the way it is now,” Tingle said. “So this is going to greatly benefit the citizens out here that are looking for a job.”

It’s a short drive from Brookwood to the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International plant in Vance, where a major expansion is underway. Mercedes will need at least 2,400 new employees when the expansion is complete.

Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for Mercedes, said training workers puts them ahead when they apply at the Vance facility.

“It will mean a lot to us to help train these individuals,” she said. “So that they can make sure they have the proper skills when they get out to the floor so they’ll be able to perform and build our best quality vehicles.”

West Alabama Works has three goals they’re working on meeting. Meeting local industries’ needs, complete the conversion of the old Brookwood High School into Brookwood Technical High School, and provide step-by-step support to anyone looking for a job.

“What we really want to make sure of is that we have enough people to fill those jobs,” Tingle said. “And, that’s a thing we have to work through in the future is being able to attract those people.”

The five-year goal of the organization is training 1,000 people and employing 800 in West Alabama industries.

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