Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth talked workforce development and education at Lake Martin Dadeville Area Chamber’s quarterly luncheon Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Dadeville.
Ainsworth told the audience a state issue is getting workforce development going and finding people who are trained for the jobs. He said the state legislature is working on bringing programs to schools for kindergarten through 12th grade.
“When I travel around the state the No. 1 issue I heard from business owners around the state and what I think is the biggest crisis faced in our state is workforce development,” Ainsworth said. “For the first time in our state we have something that’s pretty cutting edge.”
About 65% of students in the state do not receive associates or bachelors degrees, according to Ainsworth. He said the state needs to support community colleges and dual enrollment programs and also increase apprenticeships across Alabama.
“How can we make sure we get (school systems) more funds to get all your students trained not only for college but also for the job?” Ainsworth asked the audience. “I believe this the purpose of education is to get people ready for a job not necessarily for college.”
The state legislature is also working on expanding pre-K programs throughout the state so all children have the chance to start learning before Kindergarten.
“Our goal is to get no matter where a student lives in the state they have the option to go to a pre-K,” Ainsworth said.
The legislature is also working on a web application that will list all jobs available within a 60-mile radius of students.
“Students in ninth grade as part of their curriculum to find out what they want to do they can look out there and find out what are the career fields in the area they live,” Ainsworth said.
In addition to getting people into workforce development, the state is also bringing in companies to the state.
“What’s interesting about Alabama — we’re not California, we’re not New York,” Ainsworth said. “Companies are not leaving Alabama, they’re flocking to Alabama.”
The state is also benefitting the military to help workforce development. The legislature has six bills to be voted on in January relating to the military.
One bill would make sure veterans were moving into jobs that fit their experience. Another would allow veterans’ children to attend public school while parents are stationed on base.
Ainsworth said he is also working on a website for military families that will let them know how to get settled before moving to Alabama such as getting licenses and housing.
Ainsworth also talked about small businesses and how they have less of a voice in the state. A small-business commission will hold listening sessions around the state next year to hear from owners.
“The large corporations have lobbies, but a small business owner, they can’t afford a lobby,” Ainsworth said. “We’re going in and saying, ‘Hey, small business owners, what can we do in Alabama to help you be successful? What regulations are impacting your business that we can get rid of?’”
The aerospace industry is also expanding throughout the state, according to Ainsworth.
“Our military has never lost a war but when you look from an aerospace defense and other countries if they took out satellites and what that would do to our day-to-day life, that’s a big deal,” Ainsworth said.
Alabama is going to lead protecting space satellites, according to Ainsworth.
“We’re going to capitalize on that and that’s not a Huntsville thing; that’s an Alabama thing,” Ainsworth said. “They’re supplying all over the state.”
Ainsworth said the state economy is doing well and the general fund is growing.
“It’s an honor to serve as lieutenant governor,” Ainsworth said. “It’s exciting times.”