GEORGIA LEADERS PUT WORKFORCE FIRST
Investments in education & training position Georgia as the best state in the US for doing business
As the eighth most populous state in the country, Georgia has long punched above its weight within the US economy. There are very few Americans who have never drunk a Coke, flown Delta, shopped at Home Depot or sent a package by UPS —all private enterprises which call state capital Atlanta home.
In recent years, these home-grown icons of American capitalism have been joined by a massive influx of high tech companies from outside the state. In the past year alone, major brands such as NCR, Accenture, Honeywell and GE Digital, have all relocated to or significantly expanded in Georgia. They are coming here not just to enjoy southern hospitality and to be close to the world’s busiest airport: above all, it is the size and quality of Georgia’s young, diverse and talented workforce that is turning the state into what CNBC rated this year as the nº 2 state of America’s Top States for Business. According to specialist publication Area Development, Georgia has done even better, topping the doing business list for four consecutive years.
Governor Nathan Deal has no doubt that it is increased spending on education and training, while maintaining triple-a credit ratings, that has put Georgia in such a privileged position. “We are preparing a skilled talent pool in Georgia capable of meeting the demands of employers for years to come in an ever-changing marketplace,” Deal says.
“Talent is now the driving issue,” says Chris Clark, President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. “The communities that are going to succeed in the future are the communities that grow and attract talent.”
In addition to the skilled workers that emerge from universities such as Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, the University of Georgia and Emory University, the state has forged major partnerships with technical colleges to expand the provision of training for high-demand sectors. The jewel in the crown of these initiatives is the award-winning Georgia Quick Start program. The oldest program of its kind in the US, Quick Start has so far updated the skill sets of more than one million employees in 6,500 projects in numerous industries. All training is provided at no charge by the Technical College System of Georgia. Other state initiatives, including Trade Five, the High Demand Career Initiative and the Hope Career Grant, are helping to increase the supply of workers for strategic industries such as information technology. And as baby boomers retire, Georgia’s educational and training institutions also work closely with individual companies to prepare new generations for ever-growing employment opportunities.
“Workforce is a key factor that is being addressed across the state,” says Rich Stinson, President and CEO of electrical wire and cable manufacturer Southwire. “As skilled workers age, we need to invest in apprentices and in the next generation. At Southwire we are working with West Georgia Technical School, the University of West Georgia and with Georgia Tech on our own workforce development.”
“We are really focused on the long-term workforce,” says Pat Wilson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “Our job is to make it as easy as possible for the private sector to continue to grow and create jobs in Georgia for the next 20 years.”