Walt Maddox announces scholarships, workforce development proposal

Walt Maddox
Walt Maddox [Photo Credit: City of Tuscaloosa]

Last week, Tuscaloosa Mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Walt Maddox on Monday unveiled a plan for a statewide education lottery — dubbed the Alabama Education Lottery (AEL) — to help create a 21st Century educational system to help prepare Alabama’s children for competition in the technological age.

On Tuesday, Maddox revealed the first component in his lottery plan: college scholarships and workforce readiness.

“The cost of higher education continues to rise, which is creating massive student loan debt, and making college virtually unaffordable for hard working Alabamians,” said Maddox. “Making matters worse, Alabama’s greatest economic challenge is developing a knowledge based and technologically-skilled workforce that can compete both nationally and internationally. Understanding this, I will be recommending $125 million be allocated annually for scholarships and workforce readiness.”

Under Maddox’s scholarship plan, Alabamians who are pursuing workforce development training, associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, will now have “an affordable pathway to compete for the jobs of tomorrow.” Annually, scholarship recipients will be required to complete 24 hours of community service in the Yellowhammer State.

As part of the AEL’s goal of workforce readiness, $5 million annually, in scholarships and grants will be awarded to The Academy of Craft Training (Academy) and to registered apprenticeship programs that that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).

The Academy is a public/private partnership between the commercial construction industry and the State of Alabama Career and Technical K-12 Department.

Currently, only 250 students in Alabama are being served. Through AEL, Maddox intends to work with industry to expand the Academy across the workforce regions to help expand the opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to receive workforce development training from industry professionals.

If elected Governor, Maddox would propose the AEL to the state Legislature. If passed, there would then be a constitutional amendment to be voted on in November 2020 by the people of Alabama.