White Paper Focuses on Future of South’s Automotive Industry

Dr. Del Smith, dean of the College of Business and Public Affairs, and executive director for economic development at AAMU

In more recent decades, the South has become the American automotive industry’s most attractive region for manufacturing. But if the 16-state region is to maintain its new stronghold, according to a white paper by Alabama A&M University’s College of Business and Public Affairs, it is imperative that the industry form a comprehensive partnership with the region’s higher education stakeholders.

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) contracted with the College of Business and Public Affairs and the AAMU R.I.S.E. Foundation, an affiliated contracting entity, to develop a white paper on the state of the automotive industry in the southern region of the United States and how integral the industry is to the sound transition of future professionals from students to productive members of the workforce.

The paper was facilitated by Dr. Del Smith, dean of the College of Business and Public Affairs,

A growing concern addressed by the report is how states, Alabama in particular, will address the expanding automotive manufacturing industry projects through workforce preparation and development.

What is paramount, the paper maintains, is the development of a workforce that is not beholden to current content knowledge, but one that has the skills and attitudes to rapidly sense and adapt to change. The foundation upon which all workforce development is built, however, must be set at grade levels 6-8, notes the AAMU report, and provide the educators with access to manufacturers and suppliers so that they can receive a better understanding of industry demands.

Workforce development then continues on the secondary and postsecondary levels, relying on partnerships with high schools, two-year institutions and four-year colleges and universities, which begin offering more relevant, industry-aligned degree programs.