At the business incubator Innovation Depot in Birmingham on Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey announced a new education initiative called “Strong Start, Strong Finish.”
The “Strong Start, Strong Finish” education initiative will focus on early childhood education, computer science in middle school and high school, and workforce preparedness, Governor Ivey said.
“Alabama needs a comprehensive approach of collaboration that improves education from Pre-K to the workforce,” she said. “That’s the goal of ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish’.”
Those attending the announcement included BCA President and CEO William J. Canary
“Governor Ivey has done a superb job in becoming the governor for education and job creation,” Canary said. “The partnership of business and education she is advocating will advance free enterprise to ensure a better Alabama going forward.”
Business Education Alliance Chairman and President Joe Morton, Ph.D., also attended.
“A seamless plan including early childhood education with emphasis on reading and strong STEM initiatives and workforce skill exposure is a potent combination for developing student potential and enabling a successful future,” Dr. Morton said.
BCA board of directors member and Alabama Workforce Council Chairman Zeke Smith, executive vice president of Alabama Power Co., told AL.com that Governor Ivey asked the AWC to bring business and education groups together, in a public-private partnership, “to develop an attainment goal for the state of Alabama and a plan to reach that.”
A former educator, Governor Ivey said Alabama’s education system has not received the positive spotlight it deserves but under “Strong Start, Strong Finish,” all stakeholders will be able to provide the coordination that will help students succeed in school and after they graduate.
The three-prong approach includes “Pre Through 3,” to ensure that every child has a strong start to education. It will involve developmentally-appropriate policies that will strengthen and support education from pre-K through the third grade.
“The ultimate goal is that every student has a strong reading foundation by at least the third grade,” Governor Ivey said.
Through the computer science – or “CS for AL” – initiative, Governor Ivey said she will establish a unified vision for statewide expansion of computer-science education to bring coding and computer science opportunities to all middle and high schools.
In Alabama, 4,600-plus computing jobs are available today and it promises to be one of the greatest job growth areas in the coming decade, Governor Ivey said, with an average annual salary for an employee in a computer science field exceeding $82,000.
The third stage of the initiative is “Advanced Training, Better Jobs” and its goal is to nearly double the number of Alabamians with post-high school education and training.
In three years, 62 percent of the jobs available in Alabama will require some form of postsecondary education. Today, only 37 percent of Alabama’s workforce meets that criteria, she said.
Governor Ivey said she will address the education-attainment gap by developing policies and promoting programs that equip citizens with the skills and education needed to fill high-demand jobs.