Southern Company partnership boosts workforce development

BIRMINGHAM -- Southern Company is partnering with two Alabama colleges on approximately $2 million in federal grants aimed at increasing the marketability of workers for re-entry into the workforce.

The partnership includes a $1.8 million grant to Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee and a $180,000 grant to Jefferson State in Birmingham. Both grants fund pre-employment training, such as math and reading.

Last year, the technical training group within Southern Company Generation, a unit of Southern Company, partnered with two technical schools in a similar program in which Alabama Power hired 45 minority and female temporary workers who attended classes and worked at six generating plants for 10 weeks. As a result, one of the schools, Bishop State Community College in Mobile, recognized Southern Company Generation as the Corporate Citizen of the Year.

“When we were looking for someone to partner with in applying for the grants, we immediately thought of Southern Company,” said Jefferson State Community College President Judy Merritt. “Alabama’s community colleges are working together to build a skilled workforce and Southern Company is a partner dedicated to education and training.

“This is truly a win-win-win for the communities, the students and the company,” Merritt added. “The communities benefit from having a better-educated workforce. The students benefit from having more choices for careers. And the company benefits from a larger and more diverse candidate pool from which to hire new employees.”

“This partnership is an excellent example of how we can make a difference beyond generating power. We also generate growth in people through training,” said Charles McCrary, Southern Company chief production officer and president of Southern Company Generation. “In addition to contributing to workforce development, the partnership supports Southern Company’s commitment to diversity. We recognize that a competitive, diverse workforce not only is good for business but it is absolutely the right thing to do.”

Merritt added that the program’s long-range goal is to involve other industries and communities and to continue to seek grants to support the project.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO) is an international energy company that operates more than 48,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity worldwide. It is the largest producer of electricity in the United States and one of the world’s largest independent power producers. Southern Company subsidiaries and their affiliates serve 12 million retail customers worldwide and millions more through the wholesale market. Based in Atlanta, Southern Company is the parent firm of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric.

Through its Mirant subsidiary, Southern Company has operations in 12 countries on five continents and has a growing presence in North America with assets in the Northeast, the Midwest, California and Texas. Southern Company also provides energy-related marketing, trading and technical services in the United States and Europe and offers Southern LINC wireless telecommunications.