published Sunday, July 7th, 2013

Alabama officials note shortage of workers in tech fields

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — State officials say they’re working with educators and business owners to address a gap between students and a shortage of workers for in-demand job markets in the state.

Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, Gregory Fitch, told the Montgomery Advertiser technical and industrial fields ranging from trucking to engineering and welding are seeing a shortage of qualified workers in Alabama because they’re careers students are no longer considering as options.

“We need to market these positions better,” Drew Linn, CEO of Southland International Trucks, Inc., told the newspaper. “Truck drivers and technicians make good money.”

Fitch says some of the worker shortages may be linked to cultural biases against the jobs in an increasingly technology-driven society.

A potential solution could be a partnership to bring children as young as kindergarteners into industrial sites for tours and information sessions, State Commerce Director, Greg Canfield, said.

“Kids don’t really understand what a career is unless they see it or experience it somehow — something sparked their imagination,” Canfield said. “I think that’s where we have to capture the imagination of children.”

The task force examining the lack of technological and industrial workers is set to meet with Gov. Robert Bentley in December to offer suggestions on how to get young people interested in the fields.

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