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Local organizations collaborate to train needed IT workforce

Students participate in a role-playing exercise to improve verbal and non verbal communication skills at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham, Ala.(Mark Almond, for The Birmingham Times)

Times staff report

Students participate in a role-playing exercise to improve verbal and non verbal communication skills at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham, Ala.(Mark Almond, for The Birmingham Times)
Students participate in a role-playing exercise to improve verbal and non verbal communication skills at the Innovation Depot in Birmingham, Ala.(Mark Almond, for The Birmingham Times)

These 15 Innovate Birmingham Regional Workforce Partnership collaborators joined forces to secure funding from the America’s Promise grant in fall 2016. This grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, which began in January 2017, was created to equip Americans with the proper skills to obtain employment in high-demand industries, such as information technology (IT). Innovate Birmingham was awarded $6 million over a four-year span.

Alabama Career Centers

The Alabama Career Centers within Jefferson County provide referrals for prospective applicants and assist with identifying job opportunities for project participants while supporting program graduates in job retention. Career centers across Alabama aim to deliver integrated, easy-to-understand workforce information that helps students, job seekers, students, workers, workforce intermediaries, and employers develop their capacity and make sound economic decisions in the new economy.

Alabama Possible’s Cash for College

The Alabama Possible Cash for College program provides assistance with Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) paperwork completion, as well as college-entry support. This program aims to remove barriers to prosperity in Alabama through education, collaboration, and advocacy and to ensure that all Alabamians have the opportunity to lead prosperous lives. For more information, visit www.cashforcollegealabama.org.

Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA)

The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) is a leading agency for economic development that embraces the spirit of innovation, progress, and growth. Birmingham is a community known for its low cost of living and high quality of life, a place where strategic partnerships are forged and jobs are created. This bolsters the area’s competitiveness as a desirable location for businesses to grow and prosper. Birmingham is the epicenter for economic growth for a seven-county region—including Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, and Walker counties—that is home to more than one million people. The BBA will spearhead employer engagement outreach and strategy for the Innovate Birmingham Workforce Partnership. For more information, visit birminghambusinessalliance.com.

The Birmingham Education Foundation

The Birmingham Education Foundation, which supports Birmingham City Schools, bridges secondary-to-postsecondary pathways by recruiting participants into the Innovate Birmingham pipeline and by providing mentoring services for enrolled participants. At the Birmingham Education Foundation, students are the top priority with collaboration, communication, innovation, and a belief in the city of Birmingham. For more information, visit edbirmingham.org.

Central Six Workforce Development Council (CSDC)

The Central Six Workforce Development Council (CSDC) helps create a 21st-century workforce that is proactive, responsive, and results-driven to support the region’s diverse population and employers. The group aims to provide high-quality job opportunities in support of a vibrant regional economy. The CSDC builds upon experience in managing sector strategy workforce councils to enable the Birmingham Tech Council to connect employers to education service providers through data-driven designs. For more information, visit www.cfbham.org/central-6.

City of Birmingham

The city of Birmingham, under the leadership of Mayor William A. Bell Sr., was selected by the White House to be a TechHire city in fall 2015. TechHire is a bold multisector initiative and call to action to empower Americans with the skills they need, through universities, community colleges, nontraditional approaches like “coding boot camps” and high-quality online courses that can rapidly train workers for well-paying jobs—often in just a few months. Mayor Bell and the city of Birmingham are committed to opening more opportunities in our city and with our employers so we can train and retain a talented workforce. While Birmingham has certainly seen a resurgence in population and economic development over the past several years, data has shown that there is a definite shortage of tech talent to fill openings in our expanding economy. The city of Birmingham coordinates data from the TechHire designation to enable the Innovate Birmingham Workforce Partnership to systematically identify gaps in trading and employment in the IT sector. For more information, visit www.birminghamal.gov.

The Dannon Project

The Dannon Project is a nationally recognized job-development and case-management program that serves as the first point of contact for Innovate Birmingham participants. The organization will handle intake and provide supportive services, case management, and pathway development. For more information, visit dannonproject.org.


Covalence teaches aspiring developers front-end and full-stack development skills using an accelerated boot camp model. It partners with Birmingham’s top employers to ensure that each student has the best chance to secure a job upon completion of the program. For more information, visit covalence.io.


Generation, a project of the McKinsey Social Initiative, prepares students for careers in computer support by equipping them with the skills needed to obtain a Comp TIA A+ certification. Its goal is to help students achieve personal and professional success—and fundamentally change their life trajectories. For more information, visit www.generationinitiative.org.

Innovation Depot

The Innovation Depot is the epicenter for technology, entrepreneurs, and startups in the Birmingham region and serves as home base for the Innovate Birmingham boot camp programs: Covalence and Generation IT. The Innovation Depot is a key partner and facilitator for IT workforce and training development because it is home to more than 100 companies that employ 800-plus individuals. Having classes at the Depot enables Innovate Birmingham to co-locate job-seekers with job creators. For more information, visit innovationdepot.org.

Jefferson County Workforce Investment Board (JCWIB)

The Jefferson County Workforce Investment Board (JCWIB) assists in aligning grant strategies with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) regional planning and training activities. The JCWIB provides referrals for applicants along with Individual Training Account scholarship assistance and authorization for Innovate Birmingham. It provides planning, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation services, and also works to create and operate a premier workforce-development system that fosters economic development. The JCWIB links employers and job seekers with providers of education and training in order to educate and train a marketable workforce. And it serves as a valuable resource for information and services that aim to meet the needs of Jefferson County’s workforce and employers. For more information, visit jeffconline.jccal.org.

Jefferson State Community College

Jefferson State Community College (JSCC) is one of two local public two-year higher-education institutions responsible for providing both certificate and associate-degree training and credentialing in computer and information sciences for Innovate Birmingham. JSCC provides individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to function in a technologically demanding society by putting the learner’s needs first. The institution focuses on being responsive and innovative, as well as being a catalyst for lifelong learning through the use of a variety of delivery systems. For more information, visit www.jeffersonstate.edu.

Lawson State Community College

Lawson State Community College (LSCC) is one of two local public two-year higher education institutions responsible for providing certificate and associate degree training and credentialing in computer and information sciences for Innovate Birmingham. LSCC is a comprehensive, historically black college and university (HBCU) institution that prides itself in its diversity. The college seeks to provide accessible high-quality educational opportunities, promote economic growth, and enhance the quality of life for people in its service area. LSCC is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible lifelong learning opportunities through varied instructional modes to prepare students for employment or career advancement; to enable students to transfer to senior colleges and universities; and to provide customized training for business and industry. For more information, visit www.ls.cc.al.us.


TechBirmingham is the regional tech association for 250 member companies and serves to facilitate employer engagement for Innovate Birmingham program graduates. TechBirmingham is the voice of technology for the region, demonstrating the strength, diversity, and economic impact of the technology companies and talent working and living here. The mission of TechBirmingham is to strengthen and promote the technology ecosystem by promoting tech companies in the region; helping to recruit and retain tech talent and entrepreneurs; and providing opportunities for technical training and education. For more information, visit www.techbirmingham.com.

University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the regional public four-year education institution charged with providing bachelor’s-level education in computer science or software engineering for Innovate Birmingham. UAB served as the lead partner and fiscal agent for the consortium. With 23,000 employees and nearly 20,000 students, UAB has become an economic engine in central Alabama, doing business with more than 1,700 suppliers and yielding an economic impact of more than $5 billion. A public, urban, academic medical center, UAB has maintained the same audacious vision of its founders to dream big, educate, advance discovery, care for the sick, respond to the needs of our community, and establish Alabama as a progressive economic center that can change the world. For more information, visit www.uab.edu.

Source: workforce.innovatebham.com