In the midst of the recession, youth workers are having an increasingly difficult time finding jobs or even gaining the experience necessary to be considered. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that current peak youth employment rates are 48.8—more than 10 percent lower than youth employment five years ago and nearly 15 percent lower than the 63.3 percent of youth workers who were working a decade ago.
In response to the youth employment crisis, President Barack Obama established the Summer Jobs+ initiative, saying: “America’s young people face record unemployment, and we need to do everything we can to make sure they’ve got the opportunity to earn the skills and a work ethic that come with a job. It’s important for their future, and for America’s…That’s why today, we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my Administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth.”
The Department of Labor is asking businesses to get involved in one of three ways:
- Life Skills: Provide soft skills training, such as communication, time management, teamwork, resume or interview workshops. Skills can be provided through study or on-the-job experience.
- Work Skills: Provide job shadow days and/or internships.
- Learn and Earn: Provide paid on-the-job opportunities to gain experience.
To register and add your commitment to the summer jobs program, employers should go to the designated registration page maintained by the Department of Labor. Next, tag your existing opportunities and your jobs will be advertised through the program in the summer jobs bank.
The Department of Labor has prepared a detailed toolkit for employers interested in participating in the program, which gives advice and guidance for creating youth opportunities; an assessment guide; tools to define the scope of the program and strategies to plan, pilot, refine and grow the company’s initiatives over time.
With all this talk about the federal minimum wage and debate about what it could do to local economies to have to pay that three part increase to the federal minimum wage over the next two years, employers in Alabama might be able to rest assured that their economy at the moment seems strong enough to withstand whatever is thrown at it, at least if you believe the Southern Business and Development magazine.
This magazine every year comes out with a Top 10 ranking of some of the best locations in the South to be an employer. It grades each community it looks at based on the leadership that the local community has, on some of the modes of transportation and resources that go into that transportation system, and on what kind of and how strong the emerging industries are in the area.
For the year 2007, Alabama came up strong in many of those judging categories. For instance, on the Southern Business and Development magazine’s Top 10 leaders in the South for the year 2007, the governor of Alabama, Gov. Bob Riley, made the list he scored big for being able to develop an important economic development agency that seems to have turned the state’s fortunes around.
The Southern Business and Development magazine also rated Birmingham as a top 10 place in the South to raise a family. Some of the reason for this include, according to the Southern Business and Development magazine, the fact that cost of living in Birmingham is reasonable for employees and business owners alike, and that the community is home to some of the South’s most dynamic industry employers in sectors such as publishing, finance, life sciences, and retail.
When it comes to the industries and employers of aerospace and aviation, in the South there are few better places to be then Mobile and Huntsville, according to the Southern Business and Development magazine, which put both of these Alabama communities in its top 10 lists for these industries. The reason is because Huntsville’s aviation employers get money from the military industrial complex via its Brookley Industrial Complex and its relationship with weapons contractor Northrup Grumman, as well as EADS North America, which has its tanker production facility in the area.
When it comes to some of top universities in the area producing tomorrow’s best employees and employers, Birmingham gets another mention from the Southern Business and Development magazine pages. This time, it’s the University of Alabama in Birmingham that made the list because of the excellent research bring done at the university there. The college is also a top health care incubation location, because of its strong relationships with the National Institutes of Health, as well as the employees that it produces for the biotech industry in the South and beyond.
When it comes to other emerging and exciting industries, put Huntsville back in the Southern Business and Development magazine’s spotlight. The community is known as well for its involvement in the tech sector, again with its Cummings Research Park. Believe it or not, Huntsville has the second highest proportion of scientists and engineers within its borders in the entire United States. Huntsville not only has the research park, it also has a special institute dedicated to the tech sector—the so called Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology and Digium (don’t ask me what digium is).
Anyways, what does this have to do with the rest of you employers in the state? Well, if you are part of one of the communities or sectors that the Southern Business and Development magazine mentioned, kudos to you. If not, you can feel rest assured that your economy, powered by your fellow employers, is starting to make waves in the region and in the nation, and that’s good for everyone involved.
he importance of maintaining a local workforce competitively trained in today’s job market is imperative. This is exactly the reason the WIRED initiative was developed. WIRED, or Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development, awards grants to regions of the nation identified as chronically underdeveloped economically.
Here’s the latest status report on the Alabama workers grant recently announced by the Dept. of Labor. The detailed plan to implement worker training is complete. The plan has been approved, and the U. S. Dept. of Labor has released the remaining $4.5 million in funds. That’s good news for Alabama workers.
The governors of many states supplied competitive data to assist in the identification of these economically depressed areas. A WIRED grant of $5 million has been awarded to Northern Alabama. The Alabama Valley Tri-State Area and Southwestern Alabama will receive similar grants.
“This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy,” said Elaine Chao recently. Chao, Secretary for the US Department of Labor, adds, “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.” Other regions to benefit from such grants are portions of Puerto Rico, Northern Alabama, Southeastern Michigan, Appalachian Ohio, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, Southern Tennessee, Southwestern Connecticut, Southeastern Wisconsin, the Wasatch Range in Utah, Northern California, and the Arkansas/Mississippi Delta region.
Northern Alabama will receive an initial award of $500,000 to be used for immediate training with the remaining $4.5 million coming once a regional implementation plan has been developed. The $5 million grant to Northern Alabama is part of a package expected to exceed $65 million. This round of grants follows a first round of grants awarded in 2005 to 13 regions now enjoying signs of economic improvement. The original round of WIRED grants totaled $195 million and was supplemented by smaller awards of $100,000 each for talent development plans in 13 additional areas.
“Strong regional economies that are built on maximizing talent and innovation will be crucial to the nation’s success in the global economy,” Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco said recently.
Workers in Alabama should be aware of a potential product safety issue, according to a recent Alabama OSHA Alert. The warning was issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and CPSC, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Employers and employees are being warned that two brands of chainsaw, widely used in industries such as construction, landscaping and lumbering, are defective. The plastic handles can snap, causing workers to lose control of the saw.
OSHA is urging employers to discontinue use of the chainsaws immediately. Contact the manufacturer or Alabama OSHA to receive a replacement handle and a safety kit prior to continuing use of the recalled chainsaws.
The chainsaws affected by the most recent safety alert are those manufactured by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. The two-cycle gasoline engine models have an 18-inch or a 20-inch cutting blade. Engine sizes range from 46 to 55ccs. Four models produced by Troy-Bilt are being recalled, along with one made by Craftsman, the “Incredi-Pull” “model.
There have been reports of serious injury when the plastic handle located in the front of the saw has broken during heavy use. When the handle breaks while the saw is in use, workers have experienced great difficulty regaining control of the chainsaw. As a result, one worker severely burned his fingers when he tried to regain control and accidentally grabbed the hot muffler. Another worker received serious cuts when the handle snapped. Another received a sprained wrist and severe bruises trying to regain control of the chainsaw.
CPSC is the agency charged with ensuring the safety of more than 15,000 consumer products. Products that could pose a threat to workers, families and the general consumer fall under CPSC’s jurisdiction. If a product could potentially cause a fire, or is a chemical, mechanical, or electrical hazard, consumers can rest assured it is being monitored by the CPSC. Parents can also rest assured that products related to children – gates, cribs, toys, monitors – are being monitored for safety. Safety issues with consumer products cost the U.S. more than $700 billion annually.
Two Alabama community colleges recently received grants of more than $4 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to train workers for high-demand occupations, including healthcare, construction, advanced manufacturing and energy.
The first of the coveted Alabama Dept. of Labor grants went to Bevill State Community College in Sumiton, Alabama for a program to train workers for the energy industry. The grant was for $1,909,973. The second grant, of $2.3 million, was to H. Councill Trenholm State Technical College in Montgomery, Alabama for healthcare training programs.
The Alabama Dept. of Labor grants were awarded based on a competition between 429 schools.
“Community colleges are vital partners in educating and preparing workers for good jobs in their local area,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “The $125 million these 72 community college partnerships will receive under the President’s Community-Based Job Training Initiative is going to help workers succeed in careers in health care, advanced manufacturing and other growing industries.”
The Alabama Dept. of Labor grants are part of over $125 million for 72 community colleges in 34 states awarded under the President’s Community-based Job Training Grants initiative. The program was introduced by President George W. Bush in his 2004 State of the Union Address.
The purpose of the Alabama Dept. of Labor grants is to increase the community college’s ability to equip workers with the skills that are most in demand. Skilled workers can enter growing industries and contribute to economic success. More than 104 awards have been made since the program’s inception in 2005.
“Today’s awards recall the imperative that businesses and the workforce system team up with their region’s community colleges to ensure that workers are armed with the right skills to thrive in the 21st century economy,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “Community colleges are closely tied to the areas they serve, and they have proven themselves adept at responding to the regional workforce demands of numerous industries.”