New Career Training Center Opens in Brookwood Featured

West Alabama Works Steering Committee Chairman Gary Nichols and Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington at the opening of the Brookwood Career Center on May 1. West Alabama Works Steering Committee Chairman Gary Nichols and Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington at the opening of the Brookwood Career Center on May 1. Amy Materson

By Amy Materson

The Brookwood Career Center opened its doors to the public May 1, offering a number of exciting options to job seekers across West Alabama. The “pop-up” center, located at 15706 Highway 216 across from the Brookwood Town Hall, is funded from more than $1.5 million in Appalachian Regional Commission grants and is part of an initiative that will deliver a range of job training services that will fill acute workforce needs in automotive and other manufacturing industries in the area.

The center will host the Career Connect system, which matches applicants with either training or employment opportunities, and provides case management. One of the focuses will be to aid displaced coal workers and their families by preparing them for new job opportunities in fields that are in critical need of workers, such as the automotive industry, which will require 2,500 workers next year to fill new positions. Other industries with worker shortages include healthcare and hospitality, and the center will ready applicants to fill those positions, as well.

“The center will help prepare individuals for both new and existing job opportunities in healthcare, hospitality and manufacturing,” said Gary Nichols, Chairman of the West Alabama Works Steering Committee. “We’re here to generate meaningful results.”

Alabama Secretary of Labor Fitzgerald Washington stressed the importance of having a center to focus on training, even when unemployment is low. “Last month, our state unemployment rate dipped four-tenths of a percent, and those numbers are positive,” he said. “But what isn’t so positive is that 128,000 people didn’t have a job. The question becomes – how many of those people did not have the skills necessary to get the job that they applied for?”

The pop-up project is part of West Alabama Works 2020 Initiative, which also includes completion of the Brookwood Technical High School.

Anyone interested in registering with the Career Connect System or finding out more can visit the Brookwood Career Center at 15706 Highway 216 in Brookwood, or visit westalabamaworks.com.

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