Alabama priming workforce for tech

In an effort to train Alabama's workforce for the growing manufacturing

and technology sectors, the state has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships,

and it hopes to dole out more by year's end.

Through an executive order last October, Gov. Don Siegelman created the

Alabama Technical Scholarship Program and to encourage students to enroll

in the manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, aerospace and aviation technology

and information technology sectors.

During the past year, several companies — including Mercedes-Benz and Lockheed

Martin Corp. — have expanded their plants, and new ones, such as Honda Motor

Co., have moved in. All require highly skilled workers.

Each scholarship recipient receives $1,500 per semester toward tuition,

books, fees and other materials. The financial assistance is paid directly

to the training provider, and scholarships may be renewed each semester

for those who meet renewal qualifications. In the past month, 205 residents

out of nearly 1,700 applicants were awarded scholarships.

Those eligible must plan to enroll in one of the manufacturing or technology

fields and must have a high school diploma or equivalent, an annual family

income of less than $50,000 and no felony convictions. Officials expect

most scholarships would be used at two-year colleges.

The program is part of a larger public/private program called Alabama Works,

which will consist of training programs for people with little or no work

experience in the machining and IT sectors.

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