Workforce Summit Aims to Aid Industry in Selma
From the West Alabama Newsroom–
The Department of Labor and the city of Selma hold a workforce summit — to help industries recruit and retain workers.
Alabama Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington — says the COVID-19 pandemic — created a lot of challenges for businesses nationwide.
“The majority of the sectors in our workforce have really rebounded well in the last two years. Unfortunately there are still a couple of sectors that are still struggling. And that happens to be in the restaurant and hospitality sector,” he said.
Emily Hancock is a third generation owner at Hancock’s Bar-B-Que in Selma.
She says she uses quality of life benefits — like a flexible work schedule — to hire and retain quality employees.
“I can’t pay what these big chains can pay. So, kind of helps and it’s enticing. They know that I’m going to have their back at the end of the day. If they need something, I’m going to do my best to make it happen,” said Hancock.
“I might be short somebody one day to make an accommodation for somebody. We’re going to make it work.”
And that’s exactly the kind of innovation — labor officials say is needed — to help tackle some of the challenges — the pandemic has caused to some businesses.
“Prior to the pandemic, Alabama was experiencing the lowest unemployment rate in the state’s history. Right now, we’re only a half a percent away — from where we were pre-pandemic,” Washington said.
“Most of the companies are having a hard time finding good qualified workers that will be at work,” said Selma-Dallas Co. EDA Director Wayne Vardaman.
“That’s why we’re coming together,” said Selma Mayor James Perkins, Jr.
“To actually do some things to identify what we need to do better, so that we can strengthen our recruiting capacity.”
Alabama has 55 Career Centers statewide — that provide resources to both job seekers — and employers.