MONTGOMERY — Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth and legislators unveiled a new legislative package in an attempt to improve the state's workforce on Tuesday.

Members of the Lieutenant Governor's Commission on a 21st Century Workforce recommended creating a new career and technical high school diploma for students who don't plan on attending a two-year or four-year school.

The legislative package on workforce issues was unveiled at the State House on Tuesday as anecdotes about a possible auto worker union push happens in Alabama.

"One of the things that makes Alabama business-friendly is we're a right to work state. I'm not for unions. I don't think we need them. I think it certainly kills industry. Our commission didn't dive into unions. We're just strictly trying to get students in high school trained. Really where a lot of my effort has gone to on that is the students that aren't going to go to a two or four-year college. To me, if we're getting those students trained for college and we know they're not going. What are we doing? That's why we have this new pathway, a new diploma that's probably going to hopefully get those students trained to go right into a job," Ainsworth told 1819 News after the meeting.

Another recommendation from the commission is to "merge unaligned and duplicative workforce development agencies" into one new agency called the Alabama Workforce Authority. The Department of Commerce's Workforce Development Division, Alabama Industrial Development Training, and the Department of Labor would be consolidated into the Alabama Workforce Authority under the recommendation. The Alabama workforce authority would be led by a new cabinet-level Secretary of Workforce Development.

"It just makes sense to have someone that is an expert in workforce and that knows what's going on in all the different silos. Obviously, we've got people in community college who know community college as well but they might not know what Department of Labor is doing or what K-12 is doing or maybe AIDIT so we need someone that understands the whole picture and can find out federal programs. We don't have that right now. It's almost like having an athletic director that's overseeing all the different sports programs," Ainsworth said. 

The Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce full plan can be found here.

State Senate Pro-Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) told 1819 News after the meeting, "I think the focus for what we're talking about and what the Lieutenant Governor's Commission has been able to try and do is working with industry on finding ways to best train employees."

"The goal is to expand, grow more jobs, more outcomes that are positive for Alabamians. Some business leaders are going to say that the union question limits that and that becomes a question to where hey businesses are not willing to spend more money, make more investments in Alabama if they've got union issues to deal with as are the case in other states," he added. "My goal would be to say whatever we do how can we figure out how to create more jobs for Alabamians? That's been a hallmark of what I've done in the Legislature since I've been here."

The Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce full plan can be found here.

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