By Claire Aiello
You often hear about AIDT when a company announces it is coming to Alabama. AIDT is Alabama’s workforce training program, and is the state’s clearinghouse to help recruit, screen, select, assess and prepare workers for the jobs to be filled.
AIDT is a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce, and you can think of it this way: AIDT provides on-the-spot training even before you have a place to provide on-the-job training.
In the near future, AIDT will handle hiring and training for Mazda Toyota Manufacturing U.S.A., Inc. which will bring 4,000 jobs to Huntsville by 2021.
It’s all about timing
The first step in the process is for AIDT to meet with the company to develop a timeline of how quickly things will happen, and when. The training program is customized to fit the company’s needs and plan for when employees will be hired.
Kevin Taylor, AIDT’s Assistant Director for Prospect Recruitment and Training, explains what happens next.
“Once we develop the curriculum, we start the recruiting process,” said Taylor. “AIDT’s media department will develop a recruiting ad for the company and place it on AIDT’s website. AIDT’s recruiting page is linked to various media outlets, including Alabama JobLink, online job boards and social media. AIDT also assists with recruiting salaried and professional positions.”
People interested in working with AIDT partners usually complete an online training application for most hourly positions, then AIDT sends letters to candidates for interviews. During the interviews, the company selects who will proceed to the pre-employment training program.
AIDT then notifies candidates who are chosen. From that point, the candidate starts the pre-employment training program.
The first class is usually an orientation. Company representatives talk with candidates and provide detailed information, and it’s the trainee’s chance to learn if he or she wants to work for the company. A trainee can expect to learn the company’s history, plans for the future, expectations of the job, wages, benefits and other details. The candidate can choose to proceed or withdraw.
There is no cost for this program and it is usually held two to four nights per week over the course of three to five weeks, typically adding up to approximately 40 to 60 hours of training, depending on the content.
Classes are typically held at the company’s facility or at a location nearby.
“It gives employees an idea of their daily drive,” said Taylor. “We want workers to see what their drive will be like, or how long it will take to get to work.”
The Big Question: When will Mazda-Toyota hire?
This is what many people want to know — when will Mazda-Toyota start hiring for the Huntsville plant?
Not yet, Taylor explained. He urges people to be patient but to also monitor AIDT.edu/jobs and check the listings.
“Every pre-employment training program depends on the company’s hiring plan. It’s considered a ‘just-in-time’ type of hiring,” said Taylor. “AIDT looks at the company’s hiring plan and backs up their dates, so they can have people just in time for when the company needs them.”
People can be trained, then give two to three weeks’ notice to their current company after receiving a job offer.
“You don’t want to have a bunch of people waiting around, already trained, because they’ll find something else to do,” added Taylor.
In addition to pre-employment training, AIDT also offers forklift training, crane training, OSHA training, leadership development and maintenance assessment. To receive AIDT’s traditional training, a company must be new or in the process of expanding.
AIDT also offers an apprenticeship program, called Apprenticeship Alabama, launched in January 2017. This program offers tax credits to companies that hire qualified apprentices who receive classroom and on-the-job training. AIDT’s Apprenticeship Alabama staff will guide companies through the registration process through USDOL and ALDOL.
AIDT has about 150 employees statewide and is currently working with 126 companies in 36 counties. It has 12 locations, which include training centers at Mercedes in Vance, Honda in Lincoln and at Hyundai in Hope Hull, south of Montgomery. It also has an Aviation Training Center at Airbus in Mobile.
Taylor says AIDT plans to build a training facility at the Mazda-Toyota plant once it is built, too.
Alabama Robotics Technology Park
AIDT also runs a specialized facility in Limestone County that offers state-of-the-art technology. The Robotics Technology Park, or RTP, was built in 2010 and offers specialized robotics and automation training to Alabama companies at no cost.
Companies register at alabamartp.org, choosing from various courses. A typical class holds six to ten people.
There are three different levels of robotic training at the RTP: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Robotic Electrical, Mechanical, Off Line Programming and Welding classes are also offered, and RTP will soon offer classes for robotic dispense.
In addition, RTP offers three levels of PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) training for Allen Bradley, Omron and Siemens PLCs. Safety classes for Fork Lift, Overhead Crane, OSHA 10 and 30, and Arc Flash 70E are also taught at the RTP.
On the day we visited in February, Joshua McNatt and Jeremy Nix of Mitchell Plastics in Huntsville were attending a robotics class taught by Patrick Witt. McNatt said he had heard about RTP and wanted to check it out for himself. “It’s pretty good,” he said. “I have a lot of kids who want to come down for the training.”
All of the robots in the RTP are used in industry, from large to small. The size of the robot determines the task it can perform. In many cases, companies have donated the robots so employees can train on the same brand they will use once they’re back at work. Other robotic vendors have equipment in the facility on consignment.
Inspiring the Future Workforce
With such a large focus on robotics in K-12 education, middle and high school students can also get the opportunity to see the machines in action. RTP participates in career fairs all over the state by taking the RTP Mobile Training Lab to show students about automation. Schools can also request tours of the RTP facility.
This article is published in Momentum, a 2018 Special Edition magazine by the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber.