Now that North Alabama Works has got its feet on the ground in this part of the state, assistant director Stephanie McCulloch wants to continue to grow to benefit the people of Lawrence County.

North Alabama Works is a workforce council made up of leaders from industry, education, the chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, non-profits and local government agencies.

Over 75 percent of the North Alabama Works voting membership represents business and industry within the region.

The council provides a direct link to the workforce needs of business and industry at the local level, and helps to coordinate education, training and job placement system to meet the needs defined by local employers.

There are seven regional workforce councils, and Lawrence County is in Region 1, which covers Lawrence, Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Jackson, Colbert, Franklin, Morgan, Marshall, DeKalb, Marion, Winston and Cullman counties.

"We are really pushing career tech," McCulloch said. "That is where we are hurting right now. We are working with community colleges to provide grants and also working with K-12 educators."

McCulloch said many people believe that obtaining a college degree is the end for students. However, she said that is not always the case.

"We are working hard to change that mindset," McCulloch said. "It's not all about a four year college degree. There are plenty of good-paying jobs available that need people to fill them that don't require that. We have to educate the parents. They think about the manufacturing field as a dirty and smoky environment and they don't want their kids there, but things have changed greatly in the past several years."

McCulloch said she is currently beginning a marketing campaign to get local officials to the table to discuss how North Alabama Works can benefit Lawrence County.

"Before, there never was a really good conversation about it," she said. "A lot of the rural areas in the state, including Lawrence County, are where we are needed."

The next North Alabama Works meeting will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 12. Meeting places vary. For information on the meeting location or more information about North Alabama Works, contact McCulloch at 256-436-0411.

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