ATLANTA — It used to be said that Georgia’s system of 33 technical colleges, the exciting programs they offer, and the great career opportunities that they create was one of the state’s “best-kept secrets.”
But not any more.
With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Sonny Perdue has signed into law legislation that changes the state technical college system’s official name from the old Department of Technical and Adult Education to the new Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).
Though he officially signed the TCSG legislation on May 13, the governor made a special trip to the system’s technical college student of the year award at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta for a ceremonial signing of the bill. He made his comments before an enthusiastic crowd of system officials, college administrators, students and guests.
“Georgia’s technical colleges play a vital role not only in educating our citizens, but also in recruiting new industries through our top-ranked Quick Start training program,” said Perdue. “Through significant investments in our communities across the state, Georgia has developed a technical college system that is the envy of the nation.”
TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson told the audience that the renaming of the system could not have come at a better time.
“There’s an exciting transformation going on right now where more and more students are seeing technical college as their first choice for the kind of education that leads to great jobs and fantastic careers,” he said.
Jackson noted that business and industry must stay competitive in today’s global economy, and they’re looking to the technical colleges for the skilled employees they need.
“Demand is growing for the kind of graduates that technical colleges produce in critically important fields like health care, aerospace and life sciences, and the same is true for jobs ranging from culinary arts to electronics,” said Jackson. “We’re redefining technical education for the 21st Century, and Technical College System of Georgia speaks of the strengths and tremendous opportunities available within our family of colleges.”
“It’s important for us to have the strength of a unified system of technical colleges. Resources can be marshaled effectively at the state level to address key workforce development concerns and people see us as a more important entity in public education, not only in Georgia but beyond,” said Savannah Technical College President Dr. C.B. Rathburn.
Last year, more than 145,000 students enrolled in Georgia’s 33 technical colleges, including Savannah Technical College. Those students took advantage of the colleges’ affordable tuition, small classes, hands-on experience and focused instruction in more than 600 certificate, diploma and degree programs.
Many TCSG students have jobs waiting for them even before they graduate. In fact, of the 27,000 TCSG graduates in 2007, almost 98 percent are today either employed or continuing their education.
The TCSG oversees two additional programs that are important to Georgia’s future prosperity: the internationally acclaimed Quick Start program and the state’s adult education and GED programs.
Last year, Quick Start provided customized training free-of-charge to almost 46,000 employees of new, expanding and existing businesses in Georgia. Quick Start has enabled Georgia to rank number one in work force training programs in Expansion Management magazine’s annual survey of business and industry site selection professionals.
The TCSG’s Office of Adult Education provides education services for thousands of Georgians and has enabled 132,000 men and women to earn their GEDs since 2000. It also sponsors the state’s English as a Second Language program.