Elite Work-Force Development Programs Draw Industries - and Jobs
Companies that take advantage of customized work-force development programs across the South have found success.
Mark Crawford (Feb/Mar 10)
(page 2 of 2)
Another Southern Example
Since its inception in 1971, Alabama Industrial Development Training
(AIDT) has provided services to over 390,000 workers and 4,000
companies in Alabama. An institution of the Alabama Community College
System, AIDT provides a total work-force delivery system at no cost to
employers for recruiting, screening, and training potential employees;
developing and producing training materials; providing training
facilities; and delivering customized services. AIDT also became one of
the first state work-force training entities in the country to earn
international ISO 9001:2000 certification for its quality management
system and also recently earned certification to the ISO 9001:2008
"Our pre-employment selection system filters applicants and offers
companies a pool to choose from that meets their specific
requirements," indicates AIDT Director Ed Castille. "Most companies we
work with tell us that having the right employee hired and then trained
is the most important item and will likely be the single most important
success factor in the long run for the company. Our system finds and
trains those employees."
AIDT offers comprehensive pre-employment selection and training,
leadership development, on-the-job training, maintenance assessments,
process improvement assessments, and industrial safety assessments and
training - all of which are customized to a company's specific needs.
These in-depth services are free to employers if they meet the minimum
criteria for number of jobs created and starting wages offered.
AIDT's turnkey approach to work-force development was a major factor in
global steelmaker ThyssenKrupp's decision to locate a new carbon steel
and stainless steel plant in Mobile, Alabama. On track to begin
operations in 2010, the plant is considered to be one of the largest
private industrial development projects in the United States in the
last 10 years. Construction alone has created nearly 30,000 jobs; when
fully operational, the plant will employ 2,700 workers and create about
50,000 ancillary jobs over the next 20 years - a huge boost to the
"One of the factors that made Alabama attractive for us was AIDT's
expertise in helping start-up companies obtain, train, and continuously
develop new employees," says Christian Koenig, spokesperson for
ThyssenKrupp. As part of that continuous process of improvement, AIDT
also assisted in the development and construction of the
50,000-square-foot, on-site training center, which it also operates.
Looking to the Future
A talented and highly skilled work force is always at the top of the
list for companies that are expanding or relocating. "Companies that
just look for cash incentives often don't [succeed] because when the
money's gone, there's no core value left," says Quick Start Director
Brown. "Work-force training is what builds the team that has the
commitment, skills, and dedication to keep a company going, to start
delivering return on investment from day one, and to support the
longevity of the business. It really depends on if the company is
making a short-term play to the balance sheet or is focused on a
sustainable business with a quality product or service."
Other states have attempted to model programs like FastStart, AIDT, and
Quick Start, but find it challenging if they lack expertise across a
wide range of industries, plentiful and experienced industry advisors,
a well-connected technical college system, or a history of exceeding
expectations when it comes to building relationships with industry.
"It's proven very difficult for other programs to reach the point where
they can consistently deliver the innovative training, fully customized
to a company's exact technology and process," says Brown.
Again, bear in mind that it's not always the biggest incentive package
that wins the contract, but the package that provides the most value.
In June 2009, V-Vehicle Company (VVC), a new American car company
headquartered in San Diego, announced it would build a $248 million
assembly plant in Monroe, Louisiana. The project will create over 1,400
direct jobs at an average annual salary of nearly $40,000, plus
"In the end, there were several states that met our criteria and had
very large incentive packages," comments V-Vehicle Company's CEO and
founder Frank Varasano. "In fact, Louisiana did not have the largest
incentive package. However, because of incentives like the FastStart
program, we knew we could identify and train the right people who will
ultimately be a large part of our success. It was the conviction that
Louisiana could provide this work force that sealed the deal."