Industrial Talent Development Program
The Talent Development Program (TDP) began in 2019 in response to specific requests from industries in the lower Alabama region. Leaders from companies along the “Chemical Corridor” approached South Alabama with a long-standing critical need for advanced training including micro-credentials that could lead to both Associate and Bachelor’s degrees. As technology advances and product demand increases, industry is facing a growing demand for skilled labor. These facts are compounded by the need to replace an aging workforce that is entering retirement.
As an example, for Mobile, this workforce need is particularly important for the chemical industry. In 2019, chemicals ranked as the second largest export category in Alabama with a value approaching $2.3 billion. The Alabama Gulf Coast Chemical Corridor is composed of 25 chemical companies located over 60 miles running through the Mobile area. The economic impact of the companies in this corridor was reported to be $1.9 billion. The aerospace, shipbuilding, steel and other manufacturing industries have documented the same training and career development needs for their workforces.
The Talent Development Program at the University of South Alabama (USA) is focused on helping industry in South Alabama fill critical workforce needs in the full spectrum of workforce skill areas with an initial focus on three certificate programs in each of the areas:
- Process Technology
- Instrumentation and Control Systems
- Environmental Health, Safety, and Quality
In concert with the region’s Community Colleges, the Talent Development Program is developing educational programs aimed at providing a pathway for high school graduates, who are either new or already in the workforce. They will earn stackable credentials where each step of the process provides the students with skills that are immediately useable in industry.
The educational pathway begins with the high school graduate completing one year of industry-specific training that earns them a certificate indicating they possess the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce. Then, at any point in time, the student can continue on their educational pathway with the next step being another year of course work at a community college earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree. These courses can be taken as a traditional student, online or part-time. The next steps on the educational path involve the student working toward a Bachelors of Science degree in Industrial Management and Technology at USA .
The Talent Development Program works in concert with industrial representatives comprising an Industrial Advisor Board for each of the industry skill areas. Each Board helps to define program curriculum to meet the workforce skills needed in each area. USA’s first certificate program is aimed specifically at helping the extensive network of chemical industry located in South Alabama through the offering of a Process Technology Certificate.