Alabama enacts two programs to bolster workforce development

Published 10:30 am Friday, June 16, 2023

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On June 1, the Alabama Legislature approved SB 175, a bill establishing two new programs to strengthen educational and workforce opportunities for Alabamians.

The ReEngage Alabama Grant Program and the Alabama Short-Term Credential Scholarship Program are intended to increase the number of state residents with college degrees and credentials, address Alabama’s current and future workforce needs, and provide eligible students with financial assistance.

As part of Alabama’s efforts to ensure the presence of a workforce prepared for the demands — and opportunities — of the future, the ReEngage Alabama Grant Program is intended to encourage adults who have earned some credit hours to return to college and complete a degree aligned with Alabama’s high-demand occupations.

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The program will award grants of up to $3,000 per academic semester for adults enrolled in four-year institutions and $1,500 per semester for those enrolled in community colleges.

Among other eligibility requirements, grant applicants must be 25 or older and returning to college after a period of at least two years in pursuit of their first associate or bachelor’s degree. The legislature appropriated $4.5 million for the grant program, which will be administered by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE). ReEngage Alabama will be reviewed during 2027 to determine how successfully it is meeting goals.

“This will contribute greatly to ensuring that Alabama’s workforce is prepared for the future,” said Houston Smith, vice president of governmental affairs for Alabama Power. “It is an investment in the people of our state that will pay dividends for years to come.”

The Alabama Short-Term Credential Scholarship Program is focused specifically on the state’s community colleges. Adult students who are Alabama residents will be eligible for up to $4,500 per course for qualified expenses incurred in obtaining credentials in two semesters or less for in-demand career opportunities in the region in which the course is taken. Qualifying expenses covered by the program include tuition, fees, books, materials and supplies.

The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) will administer the Alabama Short-Term Credential Scholarship Program. The program will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, and expire on Dec. 31, 2028, unless extended by the legislature prior to that time.

“Alabama Power is committed to developing a highly skilled workforce for our company and for the state,” said Jerry Grissom, Alabama Power’s director of external labor. “This grant program will ensure in-demand career opportunities are available for anyone who is interested. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Alabama Community College System as they establish this program.”

Creation of the ReEngage Alabama program and the Alabama Short-Term Credential Scholarship follows the Alabama Legislature’s adoption in April of “The Game Plan,” Gov. Key Ivey’s initiative to secure the state’s economic future. T

he new programs provide further support for that initiative by addressing anticipated workforce needs and enhancing educational and job opportunities for Alabamians.