Alabama Works Workforce Development Council

Jeff Coleman, CEO of Covan World-Wide Moving, Inc., talks to students at Dale County High School during a presentation from the Alabama Works Workforce Development Council on Wednesday.

New workforce development curriculum is being introduced at many local schools this month.

The program, Smart Work Ethics, aims to help develop soft skills that will help students become employable adults.

Dale, Henry and Geneva County School systems and Dothan and Geneva city school systems will start using the curriculum next semester.

“College is not for everybody,” Dale County Superintendent Ben Baker said. “I think it’s important for our schools to be teaching not just the academics but also those soft skills to prepare our students for the workforce. There’s a lot of opportunity right here in Dale County.”

Three local business leaders — Jeff Coleman, CEO of Covan World-wide Moving; Jody Enfinger, district manager for Alabama Farmer Cooperatives; and John Cawley, funeral director of Fuqua-Bankston Funeral Home — told Dale County High School students about the skills they look for when hiring someone new. Good character, integrity, kindness and professionalism were characteristics the employers touted as important in the workplace.

Rosalind James, Youth Committee Chair for Region 6 of the Alabama Works Workforce Development Council, wrote the application for an Alabama State Department of Education grant to pay for Smart Work Ethics curriculum and professional development for teachers on behalf of the schools seeking to implement the 12-module program.

The grant covered the cost of training roughly 40 teachers and providing workbooks and instruction projected to benefit 2,500 students.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” James said.

James also introduced upcoming opportunities at junior colleges in the state that have been given grants to begin apprenticeship programs in industries that need more workers.

The initiatives are part of Gov. Kay Ivey’s goal to have 500,000 more people in Alabama’s workforce by 2025.

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