Alabama Workforce Council chair suggests merger of workforce development agencies

By: - June 27, 2023 6:59 am
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey stands in front of microphone to present economic development agenda

Gov. Kay Ivey presents her office’s legislative agenda focused on economic development at the Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium on Apr. 3, 2023. (Brian Lyman/Alabama Reflector)

An official overseeing workforce development in Alabama wants to consolidate agencies that provide career training to workers in the state.

Phil Webb, chair of the Alabama Workforce Council, urged members of the Governor’s Study Group on Government Efficiency  Thursday to merge the Council with the board that oversees the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“I am here today representing the AWC to request your support in making Alabama’s public workforce system more effective and more efficient,” he said.

The study group, established by Gov. Kay Ivey earlier this year, is charged with reviewing state agency operations and identifying duplicative or inefficient methods that could save state government money.

Webb argued that Alabama’s workforce training system is inefficient because two state agencies operating with similar missions hampers the state’s ability to address a labor shortage.

The Alabama Department of Labor declined comment.

Webb said Alabama received $52.4 million to fund the three main Title I programs aimed at providing workforce training for adults, youth, and dislocated workers.

“Shockingly, 57.6% of allocated funds were spent on administration, with only $17 million dedicated to training,” he said. “As a result, a mere 4,191 individuals completed training using these funds. Out of those, only 3,428 were employed one year after completing their training.”

Webb also noted that Alabama’s labor force is not large enough to meet the job demand in Alabama.

“Currently, we are facing a negative unemployment rate in Alabama, with three available jobs for every person willing to fill one,” he said. “Alabama’s labor force participation rate stands at 57.1%, which is one of the lowest in the country.”

The committee chair, Alabama Treasurer Young Boozer, delayed a decision on the proposal.

“Once again, that is the first time I heard of that,” he said in an interview after Thursday’s meeting. “We would have to evaluate whether that could be done. We are looking at all agencies in the executive branch, what they do and how they do it, to see if there is some duplication. If there is, there could be a change in what they are required to do.”

Members will also provide recommendations for best practices for streamlining government through eliminating or consolidating agencies, finding policies that restrict the recruiting and retention strategies for state agencies, and develop policies that are best practices for recruiting, retaining and the compensating state employees.

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Ralph Chapoco
Ralph Chapoco

Ralph Chapoco covers state politics as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. His main responsibility is the criminal justice system in Alabama.