Skilled to Work: New director of Alabama Office of Apprenticeship lays out goals for office

Josh Laney highlighted the need for more youth apprenticeships as one of the main goals his office will address.

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 6:57 PM
Updated: Oct 10, 2019 8:22 PM

As the new Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA) starts to educate citizens about its goals and the opportunities that come with registered apprenticeships, it’s new director, Josh Laney, said they are working to attract more young people into youth apprenticeships.

“If we keep waiting until students have graduated high school, waited till they’re floundering in the world, trying to figure out what they’re going to do, then we’re just missing the boat,” said Laney.

Statistics on Registered Apprenticeships in Alabama*

Current occupations:

  • Advanced Manufacturing - 95
    • Architecture & Engineering - 6
    • Installation, Maintenance, Repair - 43
    • Production - 46
  • Construction/Carpentry - 84
  • Management - 3
    • Financial - 1
    • Lodging - 1
    • Restaurant - 1
  • Office & Administrative Support - 2
  • Culinary Arts - 1
  • Distribution/Transportation/Logistics - 1
  • Education - 1
  • Healthcare - 1

*statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor

The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship was created when SB295 was signed into law earlier this year. The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship was created when SB295 was signed into law earlier this year.

Laney got his professional start in education. He spent more than 14 years with Phenix City Schools before moving on to serve as the senior director for workforce development for the Alabama Department of Education.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to do something new and different and, I think, very relevant in Alabama and in education,” said Laney.

He was announced as the new AOA director by Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and director of AIDT, back in August.

His appointment was the first major development in establishing the AOA, which was created when SB295 passed earlier this year. Senator Arthur Orr sponsored that bill.

“[T]he one thing that I've learned in my experience with career technical education and all through my education experience is that if you can get the student connected to that learning that matters to them, it takes on a whole new dynamic,” said Laney.

One the goals of the AOA is to increase the number of youth apprenticeships over the next few years. SB295 included a $500 tax credit for employers who take on a youth apprentice, or someone who is younger than 18-years-old.

“[N]o one is doing apprenticeships because they need the extra $500 tax credit, it’s about a signal. It's an affirmative signal from the governor’s office and the legislature to say, not only is it ok to do youth apprenticeships, we encourage it,” said Laney.

Governor Kay Ivey set out a goal of having 500,000 skilled workers in the state by 2025. Laney said not only is it important to get more young people into registered apprenticeships, but also to diversify the workforce, both by trade and by demographic.

“We know that a majority of people who are participating in apprenticeships right now is mostly in manufacturing and construction. That's where the majority of them are,” said Laney. “And we know that most of those participants are white males. We know that. And so we’re looking to make sure that we’re expanding that opportunity to all sub-populations, whether that’s based on race, gender or any other special sub-population that they fall under.”

Alabama recently announced that they are undertaking a combined funding plan that combines financial resources from both Perkins as well as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The latter will help bring greater representation to those parts of the workforce that have been traditionally underrepresented.

“They will all be able to come together and understand their particular role in supporting the veterans if they’re veterans or supporting students with special needs or foster students. And those overlapping special populations from WIOA and Perkins, we’re definitely going to take special attention to them,” said Laney.

As the people in registered apprenticeships also diversifies, Laney said a big focus of the office is to start to tap industries where apprenticeships aren’t as common, like hospitality, IT and health care.

“[T]here are new types of apprenticeships being formed at the state and it’s being led by our industry partners. They're the ones coming and saying, ‘I’ve got to have people. I hear about this type of training program that I haven’t done before. Let's try it out,’” said Laney.

The AOA is in the process of assembling the Alabama Apprenticeship Council, which will help guide it moving forward. It will be comprised of some elected officials, some heads of workforce boards as well as nine appointed positions that will be confirmed by the Senate.

Laney said one of the biggest selling points of having the local office will be its ability to address community and business needs more quickly than the U.S. Department of Labor.

“[I]t’s much easier to call me and either me or someone from my staff will show up as quickly as possible to help you sort out any kind of roadblock you run into, when that hasn’t always been the case dealing with an outside office,” said Laney.

The U.S. Department of Labor has not provided a solid time line for when the AOA will be fully approved.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 822085

Reported Deaths: 12001
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby914971575
Davidson86563918
Knox48960619
Hamilton42811480
Rutherford41428415
Williamson26942213
Sumner22909338
Montgomery18780223
Out of TN17852101
Wilson17747223
Unassigned16441132
Sullivan15781283
Blount14839194
Bradley14284147
Washington13850240
Sevier12986174
Maury12901166
Putnam11072173
Madison10628240
Robertson9486127
Anderson8539171
Hamblen8409169
Greene7645151
Tipton7171104
Coffee6782121
Dickson6643108
Cumberland6461127
Gibson6355144
Bedford6350126
Carter6332156
McMinn625595
Roane6124101
Jefferson6008121
Loudon595869
Lawrence573186
Hawkins5682105
Monroe564395
Warren549481
Dyer5340104
Franklin504987
Fayette484578
Obion447196
Cocke439598
Cheatham436551
Rhea428075
Lincoln427963
Marshall407358
Campbell405462
Weakley398761
Giles391298
Henderson368375
Carroll355582
Macon354375
White351468
Hardin346166
Hardeman345063
Lauderdale312744
Henry309775
Marion307246
Scott303145
Claiborne302373
Overton294360
Wayne294134
Hickman278345
McNairy275354
DeKalb273953
Smith271737
Haywood267660
Grainger255449
Trousdale247822
Morgan242839
Fentress236346
Johnson226738
Chester208651
Bledsoe208211
Crockett199848
Polk196024
Unicoi191149
Cannon187531
Union184034
Grundy176431
Lake169526
Humphreys168721
Sequatchie165228
Benton160940
Decatur156438
Lewis154826
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Stewart129328
Jackson129235
Clay108331
Houston107333
Perry105628
Moore99217
Van Buren82621
Pickett75524
Hancock53612

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