When anyone gauges the health of the economy, one of the first statistics considered is the unemployment rate. When the unemployment rate is low, the economy flourishes as people spend their wages on goods and services. Business owners profit, and in turn hire more, leading to further economic prosperity for the community.
The prevalent need for a skilled, employable workforce is recognized by both the federal and state government. This recognition has led to the development of both federal acts and local programs aimed at providing services for individuals seeking employment and employers seeking qualified workers.
In Georgia, both the Department of Labor (and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development are responsible for implementing programs aimed at improving employment statistics and creating a thriving economy in the state.
History of the Workforce Investment Act
One of the most significant pieces of federal workforce legislation is the Workforce Investment Act. The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 completely overhauled the country’s public workforce development system with the focus on development at the local level. WIA provides Georgia with federal funds to assist adults, dislocated workers and youth in receiving job training, education, and employment services.
Each state sets up a State Workforce Investment Board that determines strategic plans, industries of high growth, areas of greatest need, and establishes the local workforce investment areas. Georgia is split into 20 workforce investment areas, each with a local workforce investment board.
GOWD bridges employee education and development with the economic needs of the state and is also responsible for the oversight of WIA. Both the Labor Department and Workforce Development collaborate to build Georgia’s workforce, as the state tries to connect people with jobs.
Go Build Georgia—Building Trades
Georgia faces the serious dilemma when businesses have job positions available, however they cannot find enough skilled workers to fill the positions. One reason for this quandary is that Georgia’s skilled craftsmen are aging and retiring; half of the skilled trade workforce are baby boomers between the ages of 47-65. In order to abate the development skills gap problem and encourage more people to consider a skilled trade, Workforce Development began the Go Build Georgia initiative.
Go Build Georgia focuses on educating youth about skilled trades and how to pursue careers in these fields. Workforce development research states that current business projections indicate that Georgia will need around 16,500 skilled trade workers in the next year and 82,000 by 2016. With this in mind, the first goal of the program is to expose students to the skilled trades and plug interested students into the skilled trade workforce pipeline.
The second goal is to connect students with the Technical College System of Georgia, which offers various diploma and certificate programs in high-demand industries. The program focuses on the following five industries which have been growing significantly in Georgia: manufacturing, industrial construction, transportation, energy, and telecommunications.
Go Build Georgia High School Teams are the most recent development of the initiative. The teams consist of both educators and industry leaders with the goal of promoting career paths in the skilled trade by hosting skilled trade career days, industry site visits, and disseminating information. By the end of August, there were 186 teams spread across the state.
Operation: Workforce is a Workforce Development program specifically aimed at assisting veterans with finding and securing employment. On the Operation:Workforce Web site, veterans can create a profile detailing their military training, education, and experience which allows potential employers to find those individuals best suited for their job openings.
In addition to creating a profile, veterans can search through a database of jobs posted by Georgia employers. Veterans also have the ability to enter their zip code (or city or county) and then see an interactive map with locations of all of the employment and veterans services in the area.
Operation: Workforce not only serves veterans, but also has resources for employers. The website features the “Pledge to Support Georgia Veterans.” Employers can sign this pledge to publicly commit to providing opportunities to Georgia’s veteran community, such as veteran preference for interviews and enhanced hiring opportunities. Legislation passed this past session allows veterans to utilize skills from military for trade certificates.
For more information on the programs, visit the following Web sites:
Go Build Georgia: http://www.gobuildgeorgia.com/
I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
1-800-367-3334 day or night
Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811