Lawmakers looking at ways to improve Georgia’s workforce development

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 5:39 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLARKSVILLE, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Georgia Senate is forming a committee to discuss ways to improve workforce development in the state.

Economic development projects in Georgia created more than 30,000 new jobs in the last year. Skilled workers are in high demand. Adam Fulbright, an instructor at North Georgia Technical College said there are often misconceptions about the jobs in the manufacturing field.

“These are brand new facilities, running highly automated equipment that not only need technicians, but operators too,” said Fulbright.

The 22 technical colleges scattered throughout the state play a significant role in training workers for these manufacturing sites.

Students at North Georgia Technical College rarely graduate without a job lined up. Matthew Brown’s apprenticeship with auto parts manufacturer Haering Precision landed him a full-time job after graduation.

“When you think of anything being made from the most basic of things like small car parts- nuts and bolts and things like that, this is where it starts. I’m a single father and I raise a 6-year-old little girl by myself. She’s learning a little bit with me. She’ll say ‘what do you do for work Daddy?’ and I say ‘You see this piece of metal? I can turn it into anything you can imagine,’” said Brown.

The study committee will be led by Senator John Albers (R-Roswell). In a statement, Sen. Albers said, “Georgia has the strongest business environment in the nation, but concerns about our workforce have been growing over the course of the past few years. I am grateful to Lt. Governor Burt Jones for recognizing the importance of this issue to our economy, prioritizing this study committee, and trusting me to spearhead our legislative efforts. Georgia has been named the number one state to do business for nine years running, and if we want to continue claiming that title, we must ensure that our industries have a steady flow of experienced workers in a flexible labor market. I look forward to working with my fellow committee members as we develop a plan to strengthen and sustain a thriving business environment in Georgia.”

Senator Sonya Halpern (D-Atlanta) says the billions of dollars invested by companies like Hyundai, Rivian, Kia and SK Batteries will mean nothing if Georgia can’t find the workers.

“This is where policy comes in. What are the policies that might already exist today that make it difficult for people to move into the spaces that we know that they’re going to move into based on where the interest is from companies? Or what are the policies that we can create now that shape new opportunities so that people can get exposed to new industries and be able to then dive right in? I think the key is for us to really be thinking about today, tomorrow,” said Sen. Halpern.

One of her ideas includes making it easier for students interested in manufacturing jobs to have ways to learn skills while receiving their education in the Georgia public school system.

“It’s important that we start to give people an opportunity to understand how to take either the skills they already have and translate that into a different trade in a different position, or for young students to really allow them to know that there are multiple tracks that they can go on,” said Sen. Halpern.