Key Component to Support Innovation Economy Found by Alabama Innovation Commission

Attracting and retaining skilled workers continues to be a major hurdle facing Alabama employers. As the state’s economy has seen unprecedented growth in recent years, the supply of skilled labor has struggled to keep pace with the number of jobs employers are looking to fill.

As part of the Yellowhammer News Connect to your Future series, the following serves as information on attracting and retaining talent courtesy of series sponsor Alabama Power.

Innovation has become a game changer in the modern economy as entrepreneurs and industry seek to implement new and emerging technologies into business processes.

In July 2020, Governor Kay Ivey established the Alabama Innovation Commission and its advisory board to develop policy recommendations to drive economic growth centered on entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology.

The commission released its formal report in mid-December outlining policy recommendations that the Alabama Innovation Corporation’s board of directors will be tasked with implementing. According to the commission, a key component to sustaining Alabama’s innovation economy is attracting and retaining talent.

Regarding the state’s need for talent and human capital, the commission highlighted two main actions to address the problem.

The first policy item that the commission advised to be essential to the state’s innovation economy was the retention of state talent.

The commission’s recommendation states, “The Alabama Innovation Corporation should create a retention program targeting talent in STEM fields at Alabama universities and colleges (or expand the 2021 Retain Alabama program). This program could facilitate introductions to businesses and executives in Alabama and fund activities that expose these talents to job opportunities, employers and the quality of life in Alabama.

While noting that Alabama’s institutions of higher education actively nurture in-state and out-of-state talent, retaining individuals to work in Alabama after graduation is an issue under -lying. To address the problem, the commission recommended increased collaboration between universities, colleges and industry.

Using a program that enhances Alabama’s quality of life and connects employers with state talent would prove beneficial to Alabama’s innovation economy, the report notes.

The report details the milestones that are expected to be achieved from the current year through 2024 and provides identifiers to review the success of the program.

In addition to retaining talent in the state, the commission suggested that leaders take a targeted approach to recruiting talent from out of state.

The recommendation reads in part as follows: “Create a program under the Alabama Innovation Corporation focused on encouraging workers with the required qualifications and entrepreneurs with a track record of success to live and work in Alabama. This program could provide access to mentoring networks, discussed above, or other non-monetary incentives to certain qualified candidates to work in Alabama for full-time employment in clearly defined industries, or to work remotely in these areas in Alabama, for a period not less than two years. »

To accomplish this, the report highlighted the need for a pilot program to provide incentives for out-of-state talent.

The measure of the program’s success would be determined by the number of new workers hired by Alabama businesses, the economic impact versus the cost of the incentives, and the return on the state’s investment.

The Talent Attraction and Retention Commission’s full report can be viewed here.

Thank you to our “Connect to your Future” sponsors: Alabama Power, AlabamaWorks and Manufacture Alabama for making this initiative possible.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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