Huntsville employers look to attract workers by providing child care

As the labor work force in Huntsville continues to grow, employers are working to find ways to attract good skilled workers to the area.

Posted: Feb 3, 2020 9:33 PM

As the labor work force in Huntsville continues to grow, employers are working to find ways to attract good skilled workers to the area.

The effort is to make Alabama competitive with more than just attractive jobs but quality of life as well.

Offering child care solutions for families is one topic they are discussing.

Jackie Hogan is vice president of YKTA, which is an onsite supplier for Mazda-Toyota here in Huntsville.

Workers at the facility will be producing parts for new vehicles.

Hogan says the partnership will bring a tremendous amount of new jobs to the area making child care an important component to employees.

"The Mazda-Toyota operation we believe will bring about 10,000 direct jobs here in the area. Based on a recent study, in the entire area, they believe there will be about 25,000 new jobs coming up in the next few years. That's a lot of working parents," said Hogan.

Hogan says YKTA is one of several companies based out of Huntsville that recently attended a summit to figure out how to support working parents.

YKTA is just one of dozens of local companies that think it's a good idea but don't know how to implement child care.

"We are wanting to partner with some community organizations, entrepreneurs in the area that might have an idea of how to provide this service, and working with other employers in the area to see what is the need collectively. How do we work together to help fill this need?" said Hogan.

The Alabama partnership for children received a grant to host child care summits across the state to come up with solutions.

One of the statistics they shared at the summit was that across Alabama, two thirds of all children have working parents, meaning one parent or both parents have jobs.

Lydia Pennington is the industry relations director for the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce. She says the Chamber is also part of a collaboration to help local businesses develop child care options. The chamber plans to form a task force to move things forward.

"I think now that we know that millennials make up the majority of the workforce, with statistics showing they are having children later in life, it's a reality for our companies in this labor market to retain those employees so making sure there is childcare opportunities is paramount for employment," said Pennington.

Hogan and Pennington say this is still in the very early discussion faze. Companies based in this area have identified there is a need, and the next step is come up with good solutions.

"It could be a co-operative, that several employers go together and work on," said Hogan.

Right now the groups are also interested in finding employers in other states with child care programs. They say that will help them create a model for programs in Alabama.

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