Shift2Success Synopsis

Shift2Success is a skills training initiative targeting low-income high schoolers and young adults in the state of Alabama that focuses on immediate employability, manufacturing skills certification, and financial literacy as part of the state’s innovative Ready to Work program. The Shift2Success effort provides participants with safety training, assessment, and certification led by the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC).

The Southern Education Foundation has a historic dedication to the education and industrial training of students of color and low-income individuals dating back to 1882 with the establishment of the John F. Slater Fund, which merged with the Anna T. Jeanes Foundation & the Peabody Education Fund to form our organization.

The Necessity of Shift2Success

Throughout the South, a growing number of low-income students are graduating high school eager to take the next step in their careers only to find their pathway to higher education hindered by rising tuition and college costs, predatory for-profit colleges, and unanticipated disparities in college completion. Meanwhile, states throughout the region report massive talent shortages in manufacturing and STEM-related careers. Manufacturers expect an estimated shortfall of 2.4 million employees within the sector over the next decade.

There is both a necessity to provide an alternative pathway to the postsecondary option of low-income students’ choice as well as an immediate need for highly skilled, well-trained leaders to fill these lucrative career opportunities and become industry leaders. As a result, we view the aim of the Shift2Success initiative as a complement rather than a replacement to higher education, ensuring that all students, particularly students of color and low-income students, receive the opportunity-rich lives they deserve.

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Shift2Success Initiative Details

This effort was led by SEF while supporting partnership was offered by key national and local affiliates including the National Association of Manufacturers, the Alabama Community College System, J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College, and Wallace Community College. The inaugural Shift2Success pilot program launched June 10th-28th in the cities of Huntsville, AL and Demopolis, AL targeting low-income individuals and students of color across three area high schools. SEF was intentional in ensuring members of the community were directly involved in locating promising students for the pilot program. The following program benefits were made available to participants ranging from ages 16-24:

  • $1080 Total Stipend

  • Operational Safety and Health Administration 10-Hour Competency Card

  • Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Certification

  • Alabama Certified Worker Certification

  • Childcare Assistance

  • Transportation

Why Shift2Success?

The rising cost of tuition puts college out of reach for some students. Between 2011-2017, the price of tuition & fees increased 9% at public 4-year institutions.

–Southern Education Foundation

Why Shift2Success?

44% of Black students & 35% of Hispanic students do not complete college after enrollment.

–Inside Higher Ed

Why Shift2Success?

The average student loan debt for approximately 57% of borrowers is up to $20,000.

–Southern Education Foundation

Why Shift2Success?

Manufacturing jobs not only provide great careers, they also provide low-income students with a reliable way to finance their post-secondary education if they so choose.

Why Shift2Success?

2.4 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled within the next decade at a possible cost of 2.5 trillion to the U.S. economy.


Why Shift2Success?

Manufacturing workers earn 13% more (wages & benefits) hourly when compared to private-sector workers.

–Economic Policy Institute

Why Alabama?

Global Trade recently ranked Alabama as the nation’s top manufacturing state due to the state’s strong aerospace and auto industry presence as well as the state’s workforce development efforts.

–Global Trade Magazine

Why Alabama?

Alabama’s Community College System provides a robust offering of higher education options for students within the state including the Ready to Work program.

"84% of manufacturing executives agree that there is a talent shortage in U.S. manufacturing, and this gap will be exacerbated by more than 2.7 million professionals exiting the manufacturing workforce through retirement over the next 10 years."

Craig Giffi, Deloitte’s Vice Chairman