Economist talks local jobs before Obama's speech; Augusta Tech works toward building strong local workforce

The students are part of a Nuclear Engineering Technology Program that's partnered with Southern Nuclear. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 8, 2011)

The students are part of a Nuclear Engineering Technology Program that's partnered with Southern Nuclear. (WRDW-TV / Sept. 8, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The people who will one day be running Plant Vogtle could be found tucked away in a classroom at Augusta Technical College. Right now, they're just students in a special program there.

"This is very important for workforce development in our Greater CSRA area," said JoAnne Robinson, who's the dean overseeing the program.

The students are part of a Nuclear Engineering Technology Program that's partnered with Southern Nuclear. It's one of the many programs at Augusta Tech with one main goal in mind.

"We educate and train students to meet job-entry skills. Our programs are focused toward gainful employment," Robinson said.

"People are out of a job, they're trainable, they're looking for that career. That's probably a good place to start," said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.

He'll definitely be watching the president's speech Thursday night -- but will be listening for one main thing.

"Mainly, I'm looking for a little less federal government involvement in private business," he said.

It's his job to bring new companies to this area.

"Our job is to work to try to get that unemployment number lower, especially here, to do everything that we possibly can," he told News 12.

He's seen some success lately. He says the economy here is strongly diversified and is performing better than that of a lot of places.

A national publication, Business Insider, came up with a list of 20 cities having an "awesome" economic recovery. Augusta is No. 6 on that list.

But, he says, there's still work to be done to get people working, and that's where Augusta Tech comes into play.

"They'll have good opportunities for employment not just at Plant Vogtle, but again, any plant in the nation," Robinson said.

As for Sprouse, he said he actually went over to Germany not too long ago. Companies there said they want to expand over here. He says they said the only thing holding them back was our political environment over here. He says that's why the president's speech is so important tonight.

Click here for more information about Georgia careers in energy, Get Into Energy Georgia

Job Openings in Georgia, Georgia Department of Labor
Careers - Southern Company


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