Workforce Training: Coping With Crisis Requires A New Skillset

Companies are building digital training programs and creating ecosystems of “learning partners” to produce and deliver digital content to a broad base of employees.

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2020 Issue

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced industries to accelerate transitions to workforce training regimens that embrace remote learning and adapt to changing technologies. This transition was well under way before the crisis unfolded.

In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. Less than half of respondents indicated they had a solution to this.

According to MGI, companies are scrambling to match an existing workforce to new roles and activities. “Reskilling” and “upskilling” are the buzzwords in a topsy turvy reordering of workforce training requirements. Many analysts believe that a significant portion of workers who remotely are doing their jobs during the pandemic, may decide they have no need to return to an office setting after the crisis ends. Entire industries may be forced to rethink the deployment of their workforce. Online teaching, for example is likely to become a growing and permanent part of the education system at all levels.

McKinsey Global Institute recommends that companies develop a talent strategy that has a strong reskilling component, with an emphasis on producing workers with strong digital and cognitive capabilities.

Over the past few years, Louisiana Economic Development’s FastStart program has placed a strong emphasis on self-paced courses, virtual learning tools and remote delivery based on the needs and demands of its client companies. That emphasis helped LED FastStart to be able to transition both quickly and effectively with little interruption in project service.

In response to the COVID situation, LED FastStart has been able to rapidly transition both core and project-specific training to remote delivery formats such as webinars and virtual classes. With this approach, employees are able to be trained from any location and course instructors are able to deliver the needed training without travel or on-site exposure.

Curriculum development, material review/revision and production of training materials were shifted to remote execution within a few days of the statewide “stay-at-home” order. The transition was so smooth that client companies did not experience any delays or interruption in training that could be remotely delivered (read this issue’s cover story for more information on FastStart’s COVID-19 response)


Workforce development services provided by AIDT are among the strongest incentives for businesses who choose to locate or expand in Alabama. AIDT has assisted companies with recruiting, assessing and training more than 870,000 job seekers.

AIDT’s mission is to provide quality workforce development for Alabama’s new and expanding businesses, and to expand the opportunities of its citizens through the jobs these businesses create. AIDT designs and creates a fully customized training experience and delivers quality candidates to meet the hiring needs of any industry.

workforce training
Phase 3 of the Robotics Technology Park, an $80 million, 85-acre campus in Limestone County, AL, where workers from Alabama companies receive training from top industrial robot makers and automation software firms. (Photo:

Recognized among the nation’s top workforce training programs by industry observers, AIDT’s training produces a workforce that employers recognize for high performance achievement. This is a result of both the technical assessment and training that AIDT trainees receive, and the process by which they are selected. AIDT currently holds an ISO 9001:2015 certification for quality and continuous improvement.

AIDT stays at the forefront of workforce development through its innovative approaches to common issues, and its ability to partner with education and industry leaders, as well as other state agencies. This includes the continuous evolution of training techniques such as e-learning through modules and webinars, virtual reality training, and more traditional hands-on learning.

During the COVID-19 crisis, AIDT has remained committed to serving employers and job-seekers alike by taking the lead in transitioning all compatible training to online learning and modifying recruitment techniques to better serve job seekers.

AIDT operates four main training centers throughout the state, in addition to several smaller sites that are geared towards assisting specific companies. Mobile Training Units (MTU) are also available at company request, creating a mobile classroom that can be tailored to company needs and delivered anywhere across the state. All of AIDT’s training classes are offered at no cost to the company or the individual.

The Alabama Robotics Technology Park (RTP) in Tanner, Alabama, boasts an impressive three-building campus, each targeting specific skill sets within the robotics industry, and a 1/4 mile testing track. The Alabama RTP launched its next phase of training called RTP 2.0 in January 2020. RTP 2.0 has shifted the focus to Industry 4.0 training as well as additive manufacturing. The RTP is a leader in robotics training, enabling manufacturers to take advantage of innovative robotics training for their employees while maintaining production.

The Alabama Workforce Training Center (AWTC) in Birmingham offers training classes in the construction trades and in several areas of manufacturing, all based on the industry needs in the state. Trainees include existing employees who desire to enhance their skills for higher-level work in their trade, students who have shown an interest in construction or manufacturing trades through their local schools or community college technical programs, and citizens who want to complete training and go directly to work. The ultimate goal is to provide entry-level training, existing-employee-upgrade training, two-year technical college level training and K-12 career training to adequately supply businesses with the needed trained workforce.

In the capital city, the Montgomery Regional Workforce Training Center (MRWTC) provides various opportunities including entry-level training, employee upskilling, and training in programs often found in two-year colleges, as well as K-12 career training, to adequately supply businesses with a trained workforce for the Montgomery region. One of the most successful programs offered is the Basic Machining Program, which offers in-depth training and produces quality graduates who are working within weeks of their graduation. Business and industry leaders across the River Region have expressed interest in future graduates of the program, finding that they are equipped with critical knowledge and skills to fill their needs.

At the Maritime Training Center in Mobile, Alabama, the primary focus is supporting the needs of the robust maritime industry. Dozens of classes are offered quarterly for citizens who are looking to jumpstart an exciting career, or brush up on their skills. AIDT’s training efforts in Mobile are also taking flight in the form of the Alabama Aviation Training Center, which supports the growing aerospace industry. This state-of-the-art facility houses classes such as safety, quality, computer and leadership development, as well as specific Airbus technical courses and new hire orientations.

Whether it’s automotive, aerospace, robotics and automation, shipbuilding or biomedical, AIDT researches and identifies the needs of each company served and uses that information to develop a full range of technical pre-employment selection programs uniquely customized to each company.

AIDT has been an authority in workforce development since its inception in 1971. For nearly 50 years, AIDT has been innovating and exploring new pathways to deliver a highly skilled, highly trained workforce and will continue to be a leader in revolutionizing workforce development.

For more information about AIDT and its services, please visit


In the face of adversity, Lubbock, Texas takes pride in the resiliency of its community and the continued strength of its workforce. Through a collective push from leading organizations across the “Hub City”, training programs focused on trades such as computer coding and semi-truck driving have fostered valuable opportunities for citizens and a future labor force which has proven to be a key component in the city’s efforts to combat these uncertain times.

The Lubbock Coding Academy, a Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) and Austin Coding Academy-partnered program, along with Texas Tech University and South Plains College (SPC), which offers web development and other coding skills, adapted quickly to the guidelines suggested by local health officials. By offering free online workshops, those interested in beginning to develop the technical skills needed is available, with no financial pressures interfering. Each workshop is catered to a specific age group or skill level and is open to all ages, starting with middle school.

In a few weeks, the coding academy will welcome its newest cohort of students—virtually. Full-time, 18-week and part-time, 36-week courses have been moved online for students to continue learning while social distancing. At home, citizens are able to learn new skills to continue their professional development and land a job upon graduating from the program. As the technology industry continues to thrive on the South Plains, this is one example of how Lubbock’s upcoming workforce is preparing for the future.

Web development isn’t the only sector the SPC is prepping. In January of 2019, a Professional Truck Driving School was created to challenge the increasing need for commercial certified drivers. Since then, LEDA has partnered with Workforce Solutions South Plains (WSSP) to donate four state-of-the-art Virage simulators to improve the efficiency and quality of the program.

This newly developed behind-the-wheel training will provide students with the skills needed to become certified as well as maneuver through driving conditions they may be unfamiliar with due to the location of the program. These conditions include a diverse range of geological scenarios such as mountain ranges as well as weather-related situations like heavy snowfall. The simulators will also have the capability to track each individual’s progress and communicate areas in need of improvement to the instructor.

Because the need for professional drivers is so high, LEDA, WSSP and SPC are eager to enhance the training experience for the future workforce. By investing in the equipment required for proper training, students of the program can acquire the skills it takes to become CDL certified and earn their permit. Together, their efforts are resulting in ready and skilled applicants joining the in-demand field of trucking. In the wake of COVID-19, SPC has also moved classes to an online format, and students in the trucking program are able to continue preparing for their certification test.

The future of Lubbock is promising as those advancing their professional skills are continuing to learn under these unprecedented circumstances. As LEDA continues to partner with local higher education institutions in a collective focus on meeting worker skills to the needs of the industry, workforce development efforts will strengthen economic stability and prosperity while focusing on the growth of citizens. We have been reminded that our community is more important than ever in maintaining a thriving city and economy.

For more information, visit and see why #LubbockLeads.

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