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Lawson State a leader in workforce development training

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Dr. Perry W. Ward, president Lawson State Community College. (Gary Tramontina, provided photo)

Times staff report

Dr. Perry W. Ward, president Lawson State Community College. (Gary Tramontina, provided photo)
Dr. Perry W. Ward, president Lawson State Community College. (Gary Tramontina, provided photo)

Workforce development provides businesses and industries the employees they need, and it provides those employees better opportunities for a better quality of life, Perry Ward, president of Lawson State Community College, said recently.

Speaking during a gathering of business leaders, Ward said the right skills are critical to workers’ success, businesses’ and industries’ success, and a community’s success.

He mentioned a few examples of workforce development at Lawson State including a Homeless Shelter Training Program that provides welding, electrical, and PLC training to individuals currently residing in local homeless shelters.

“This entry-level workforce development training program prepares individuals to re-enter the workforce with a valuable skill that can be built upon and pave the way for a meaningful, well-paying career,” he said.

Another involves Trane/Ingersoll Rand and a partnership with the city of Birmingham. This month, Birmingham Mayor William Bell signed a partnership with Trane/ Ingersoll Rand to begin installing energy-efficient electrical and HVAC units in city buildings to reduce the city’s energy consumption and energy bills.

“Lawson State is proud to partner with the City of Birmingham on this new initiative by providing over 20 students from Lawson State’s mechanical, electrical and HVAC programs to participate in paid internships while completing their training,” he said.

Ward’s comments came during a press conference to introduce Jeff Lynn, who joined the Alabama Community College System this month, where he has been charged with working with businesses, industries, economic development organizations and communities to ensure that students, adults and employees receive the proper technical skills needed to perform in-demand jobs.

Lynn was former executive director of Louisiana’s LED FastStart, which provides customized workforce and recruitment solutions to new and expanding companies. It has been ranked as the nation’s best workforce development program for the past seven years.

“Jeff Lynn is the Warren Buffett of workforce development,” said Jimmy Baker, acting chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. “He is great at what he does, and he is known for getting results. We are thrilled to welcome him to Alabama and eager for him to hit the ground running.”

In managing workforce and economic development efforts at the community colleges statewide, Lynn will work closely with regional workforce development councils and others in the public and private sectors to ensure college programs are aligned with industry needs. Lynn also is expected to build advanced manufacturing training centers to prepare workers for high-tech jobs in the state.

“Workforce development is a multi-tiered collaborative effort,” Lynn said. “Our success depends on our ability to work together to meet the collective needs of our state – residents who need good jobs, employers who need skilled workers, and communities that need business and industry in order to thrive. We must listen to the needs of our industries and provide world-class workforce solutions.”

A graduate of Auburn University, Lynn is a certified economic developer trainer with more than 30 years of experience in manufacturing, corporate headquarters, IT technology centers, customer support centers and other business operations. He specializes in large-scale manufacturing startups, and he has worked with hundreds of companies in developing customized workforce and recruitment processes, technical assessments, training programs, leadership development efforts and other workforce initiatives.