Josh Hunter, former International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) workers Local 48 business manager and new National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) Southeast field representative, was selected earlier this year by the City of Birmingham Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity to serve as a member of the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy, a partnership between the National League of Cities (NLC) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The Academy was established to develop innovative and scalable solutions to address the most pressing workforce challenges.
Birmingham, Alabama, was one of 16 cities chosen to participate in the Academy. The group began meeting in May and will continue through July 2024 to develop solutions that focus on upskilling and reskilling workers and preparing underrepresented workers for quality high-growth, in-demand occupations.
Working with labor leaders, industry partners and government representatives, the members of the Birmingham Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy specifically focus on infrastructure, clean energy and advanced manufacturing jobs, with a focus on barrier elimination, particularly as it relates to childcare and the care economy, Hunter said.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” he added. “The work that we will be doing over the next year falls in line with the mission and goals our union has prioritized. We will look to create real solutions that will help our local recruit and retain members of the community including those who are often underrepresented.”
Hunter hopes to create new marketing strategies and solutions and expects to work closely with the NEMI team to craft ideas that will assist his work group in completing its mission.
“NEMI has always been a resource we have relied on to help us move our local forward,” Hunter said. “I will absolutely rely on their expertise as a sounding board as we brainstorm solutions.”
Partnerships such as the Academy are opportunities to get involved in the community, establish tangible relationships and build new pipelines to recruit new members and promote the trade. Anything Hunter and Local 48 accomplish in Birmingham can be shared with other locals, too, added Lisa Davis, NEMI administrator.
“Local 48 has an incredible opportunity here, with Josh serving on the Academy, to create real solutions that will benefit the entire community of Birmingham,” Davis said. “NEMI is proud to support his efforts in any way we can.”
The NLC is an organization of city, town and village leaders focused on improving quality of life for their constituents. Funding for the Academy was made possible by investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Academy, a 16-city cohort, is provided with in-depth technical assistance to accelerate each city’s efforts to design, develop and launch new workforce initiatives. During this time, Academy participants work closely with their employers, workforce development boards and other cross-sector partners to take actions to build strong on-ramps to in-demand infrastructure jobs for workers facing barriers to success. This includes launching pre-apprenticeship programs and expanding registered apprenticeship into new sectors.
Other cities participating in the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy include Chattanooga, Tennessee; Duluth, Minnesota; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Frederick, Maryland; Jamestown, New York; Kokomo, Indiana; Lansing, Michigan; Missoula, Montana; Monroe, North Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; San Antonio, Texas; Santa Fe, New Mexico; St. Louis; Tacoma, Washington; and Tempe, Arizona.
Click here to learn more about the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy. For more information on NEMI, visit the website at www.nemionline.org.