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AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.—Labor shortages have become a common problem for many Alabama employers. This has led to longer wait times at restaurants, extended shipping times and several business closings. September is Workforce Development Month, and according to Community Workforce, Leadership and Economic Development Extension Specialist Matt Ulmer, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System is working hard to help potential employees gain the necessary skills to join a burdened workforce.
What is workforce development?
Most Americans work to provide for themselves and feed their families. More jobs become available every day, but a gap has formed between employer needs and prospective employee ability. Alabama Extension’s workforce development programs focus on helping prepare potential employees by teaching skills that would apply at every job.
“Workforce development professionals work to bridge the gap by identifying the current and future skills necessary for employers,” Ulmer said. “Then they develop programs at schools and training facilities to meet those specific needs.”
Alabama Extension Workforce Development
One of the most important aspects of workforce development is to give individuals confidence in their abilities and decisions. Alabama Extension has developed many programs for those seeking to find a new job or change their current position.
“Alabama Extension offers a wide range of technical and soft skills programming,” Ulmer said. “These are designed to help bridge the skills gap and prepare individuals to be successful from the start of their job search through their last day on the job.”
Many of the topics covered in Extension programs focus on soft skills. These include pre-employment skills such as resume building, cover letter writing and interview preparation. Post-employment skills include how to meet employer expectations, time management and workplace communications.
“Financial literacy, leadership and career exploration programs are offered through 4-H,” Ulmer said.
Many of the programs are offered as workshops at Extension offices across Alabama. Any person seeking to improve their employment skills can be part of Alabama Extension’s workforce development programs.
“We want to develop our workforce by creating training opportunities for those seeking to work,” Ulmer said. “Ultimately, we want to lead them into fulfilling careers, which is essential for financial security and for growing our economy.”