According to a white paper by the College of Business and Public Affairs at historically Black Alabama A&M University, it is imperative that the automotive industry in the southern United States form a comprehensive partnership with the region’s higher education stakeholders.
The Automative Industry Action Group contracted with the College of Business and Public Affairs and the AAMU R.I.S.E. Foundation, an affiliated contracting entity, to develop a white paper on the state of the automotive industry in the southern region of the United States and how integral the industry is to the sound transition of future professionals from students to productive members of the workforce. The paper was facilitated by Dr. Del Smith, dean of the College and executive director for economic development at Alabama A&M University.
The report notes the growing concern of how the southern states, particularly Alabama, will address the expanding automotive manufacturing industry projects through workforce preparation and development. The paper maintains that the development of a workforce that is not beholden to current content knowledge, but one that has the skills and attitudes to rapidly sense and adapt to change is of the utmost importance. The report suggests that the foundation for this workforce development to be set at grade levels 6-8 and that middle school educators be provided with access to manufacturers and suppliers so that they can receive a better understanding of industry demands. From there, workforce development should continue on the secondary and postsecondary levels, relying on partnerships with high schools, two-year institutions, and four-year colleges and universities, which begin offering more relevant, industry-aligned degree programs.
The full white paper, “Driving the Southern Region into the Future,” may be accessed here.