HUNTSVILLE — A new study finds that north Alabama could face serious challenges to find qualified workers to fill the many jobs that have flooded the region.

A labor market analysis was recently commissioned by north Alabama elected leaders.

Deloitte analyzed the situation and its findings signal a potential crisis in the future that will require an extraordinary effort to overcome, according to media reports.

A national recruiting effort is needed to attract people to fill the jobs, said Darin Buelow, global location strategy leader for Deloitte.

In a recent presentation to area civic leaders, Buelow said the Huntsville area must fill about 25,000 new jobs by 2023.

However, it comes at a time when Alabama is experiencing a record-low unemployment rate of 2.8%. It's even lower in the Huntsville area at 2.1%.

"The only way to get some of those people is to get some of them to move here," Buelow said. "Sure, we can convert more of them that are in the economy now, maybe convert some of the non-workers and turn them into workers.

"But we need to also ramp up a moonshot effort to get people to be interested to move to this region," he added.

Launch 2035 hired Deloitte to study the labor market. Launch 2035 is regional business-led initiative that has facilitated closer working relationships with the area's elected leaders in Madison, Morgan and Limestone counties.

The study projected that 14,000 new jobs in the region will be created over the next three years, "translating to approximately 25,000 direct, indirect and induced new jobs," according to Deloitte's executive summary.

"That's going to exacerbate the supply and demand gap that the Huntsville area experiences now," Buelow said.

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(1) comment

Jerry DeGregory

It is too often the case that studies such as the Launch 2035 one are conducted not to "find out" what needs to be done, but to provide data to support what those who paid for it already want done. So Launch 2035 is a coalition of regional business interests designed to create a closer working relationship with the area's elected leaders? Sounds like that means it is an organization designed to get our elected officials to work for them. If the area's elected officials spend public funds to do what these businesses should be doing for themselves, Launch 2035 will certainly have succeeded. Ask our elected officials: Whose interests are you serving by doing what these businesses can do themselves, namely, recruit their own work force? Let these businesses spend their own resources advertising these jobs. If the jobs are here, those who want them will apply. Does the study provide any data to support the notion that potential employees are reluctant to move here? Are data provided which indicate that these businesses will not locate here because they do not think they can fill these positions? If so, let them locate where they are needed. Judging from the data on unemployment rates that are provided, the businesses we already have are serving us well in that regard, so what is the big crisis this article suggests we are facing?

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