West Alabama Works Launches Workforce Academy

West Alabama Works launched another exciting project at this year’s Worlds of Work event:  The Educator Workforce Academy.  The Academy is designed with specific outcomes to bolster the K-12 pipeline in West Alabama.  School Systems have worked together with West Alabama Works to develop a workforce and leadership academy to familiarize educators to the world of business and industry, as well as college opportunities to help facilitate the process.  Throughout the year, educators will learn about Region 3 workforce development needs with the outcome of training administrators on how to lead students through the maze of college and career opportunities.  All administrative certified leaders will receive a Professional Learning Unit (PLU) for completion. Others will receive PD credits.  This cohort will demonstrate that education and workforce development cannot success as separate entities, as educators have a very important role to fill. 


  • Education leaders will connect schools with business and industry partners in West Alabama.
  • Education leaders will learn the specific skills necessary for successful careers in business and industry.
  • Education leaders will be able to apply the career skills, curriculum relevance and workplace skills to the curriculum in elementary, middle and high school courses.


2017-2018- Principals and Select Central Office staff (BOE members as applicable)

2018-2019- Assistant Principals, new Principals and Select Central Office staff

2019-Ongoing- New leaders, counselors, teacher leaders

The Academy began at WOW and is now composed of 2 cohorts.  Each cohort meets 4 times per year and involves tours of entities such as the Brookwood Workforce Center, industries such as Mercedes-Benz, ZF, ARD Logistics.  Topics such as Introduction to Workforce Development, Employment Engagement and Career Opportunities, Workforce Development and the New Economy, and the Impact of the Automotive Industry will be discussed. 

The Academy is generating a great deal of buzz in West Alabama, with principals reporting to their superintendents that the first session alone has changed the way they want to serve in their administrative role.  The initial response to the session was so great, that two cohorts were formed, with a waiting list already in place for 2018.   According to Sandra Aldridge, teacher in the Tuscaloosa City School district,  “We need this academy to be a partnership of how we can work together collaboratively to prepare our students.  It is one thing for our teachers to prepare our students for careers/workforce but when the students can see it in action, it is so much more powerful.  Students need to see the workforce come to their school as well as them go visit the various workforce companies on field trips.  Seeing and experiencing is far more powerful than just telling.”  

This enthusiasm is welcomed, as it indicates that increased understanding will enhance existing partnerships.  Ultimately, educators will better understand the needs of workforce and will gear instruction accordingly.  Secondly, students will have increased opportunities for on and off ramps throughout their educational experience due to better awareness of the many ways they can earn credentials of economic value.  Thirdly, regional business and industry will have a more plentiful pool of well qualified individuals right in their own community from which to hire.