Community college system launches rapid training for jobs

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – Alabama’s community college system has launched the first of several programs designed to help students find immediate employment.

“These are exciting times for the community college system,” CASC Chancellor Jimmy H. Baker said during a presentation Monday at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. “We will step up and respond to the need if we know what the need is.”

The Innovation Center’s rapid training programs will help interns find jobs quickly, but will also help reduce the state’s supply chain issues and small business closures, said Mara Harrison, executive director by interim of the Innovation Center.


Hospitality courses began last month and commercial driving courses for 18-wheelers and passenger buses such as school buses are ready, Harrison said. Training programs for grocery store butchers, heavy equipment operators, plumbing and facility maintenance are among the first to target high-demand industries, AL.com reported.

Each program includes classroom courses that can be taken virtually, as well as in-person lab work that will focus on hands-on training at regional community colleges. Students who complete the training will earn an ACCS credential and be job-ready when they complete the coursework, Harrison said.

Twenty-three rapid training programs will be offered. The training is job-specific and has been developed by companies and industries to help students find jobs immediately with employers who are struggling to find workers.

The innovation center will be based in Decatur, Baker said. The program has $10 million in funding for the first year, approved by the state education fund, he said.

Mark Colson, president and CEO of the Alabama Trucking Association, said the national commercial trucking industry faces a critical shortage of about 80,000 professional drivers.

“We are feeling the driver shortage in Alabama,” Colson said.

He said increasing the role of the community college system in training commercial drivers, diesel mechanics and tractor-trailer repairers should help improve the training pipeline.

“We are proud to partner with Alabama’s community college system to increase efforts to attract and connect job seekers with the training they need to enter the trucking industry,” a- he declared. “The ACCS Innovation Center is the right program to increase the availability of CDL offerings in our state and enhance existing programs that are already preparing our future workforce.”

The Innovation Center has already successfully partnered with the Alabama Department of Tourism to help workers train and find jobs in the state’s $16 billion hospitality industry, thanks to a grant of $1 million from Governor Kay Ivey. All graduates of this pilot training project organized by the Coastal Community College have been matched with jobs and 100% of the students have been hired at the end of the training, officials said.