Employers Hiring; Qualified Applicants Needed

This week’s Courier Herald column:

In last week’s column I wrote about a new factory coming to north Georgia that will make shoes for Adidas. The facility is unique because it is being billed as a Speedfactory – relying significantly on technology to mass produce products – with many of the employees needing technical skills in order to work their factory job.

The rise of automation to increase productivity has presented a challenge for America’s middle class. It is just one component of the mismatch between the skills prospective employees have and employers need. Figuring out how to close this gap is a focus of policy makers from government, business, and the education community alike.

Last week the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce released the findings from a year long effort to quantify the skills gap in Georgia. The Chamber partnered with Accenture to identify what skills our education system is producing and compared those to those that local employers are demanding.

Understanding the disconnect can help better align the significant resources spent developing skills, as more than half of Georgia’s state budget is devoted to education. It can also be used to guide students from high school through higher education toward degrees and programs that are in demand.

The MAC study tried to identify and quantify our skills gap and our talent gap. The former being the core professional skills needed by employers but lacking in the current employment pool. The latter is the shortfall of number of degrees and certifications conferred as compared to the number of entry level positions available.

Demand from employers exceeds the qualified talent pool in areas of Business, Computer/Information Sciences, and Engineering at the four-year degree level. The number of healthcare professionals with a 2-year degree are far below employers’ demand in the healthcare field. Logistics/transportation jobs continue to exceed the number of qualified applicants from the field of employees with high school diplomas and/or training certificates.

Conversely, the number of two-year Liberal Arts degrees conferred outstrips the number of jobs available from Georgia employers by more than a nine to one ratio. While many skills taught by two-year Liberal Arts programs are needed/desired by most employers (specifically, there’s a gap with those possessing communications skills), the implication is that someone with an associate liberal arts degree will need additional education or skill development to find greater success in the jobs market. Even with a four-year Liberal Arts degree, many fields such as Psychology and Social Sciences continue to produce significantly more graduates than there is demand for these services.

Georgia’s skills gap shows that employers have the greatest difficulty finding employees with business, technology, and nursing degrees. Information Technology jobs are in demand not only from those with four year degrees, but a significant number of high wage jobs in the field involve programming and coding which can be filled with technical degrees. IT occupations represent roughly one third of job postings in Georgia.

Understanding a problem is the first step to devising solutions. For context, Georgia remains the 4th fastest growing state in the union and is also 4th in job growth nationally. Yet Georgia’s unemployment rate is 33rd in the nation. When a local employer can’t find the talent needed locally, it has two choices: it can train new talent which takes time and money. Or, it can hire non-local talent and relocate them.

Georgia makes an incredible investment in our education system from our public elementary and secondary schools, Technical College System, and University System. We already incentivize students to pursue careers in high demand fields in the technical college system. The same should be considered throughout the University System – perhaps by re-aligning the payout from the HOPE scholarship to prioritize fields of greater demand.

The ultimate solution to closing these gaps will lie in parents and students working to inform themselves of what options are available and charting a course – beginning in high school – that will put each student on a path to personal success. This will likely require changing the perception of some jobs and career paths, as well as families being able to find and understand this kind of information earlier.

Georgia’s employers are hiring. We need to ensure that we’re preparing graduates with the skills that they need.

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Saltycracker
Saltycracker
3 years ago

What you said……the demand could be met if had a responsible immigration plan, gave welfare only to those truly in need (shifting funds is big bucks), beefed up tech school support and got aptitude testing in place for grants and scholarships.

As Rabun Rube sez, close the garbage dumps and the bears get to work.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Agree, plans for the “working poor” are positive directions.

Indypendant
Indypendant
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Curious as to why you believe training workers falls on the state, as opposed to the employer…..

Indypendant
Indypendant
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

It would be highly improbable to think that our K-12 education system could foresee the needs of employers a generation out. Well past time employers quit whining about being unable to fill positions and start training people to fill those positions. Alternately we could raise the corporate income tax with the specific purpose of providing education tailored to meet the needs of employers.

Ellynn
Ellynn
3 years ago
Reply to  Indypendant

Actually its not highly improbable at all. We all ready do some of this in K-12 and the Tech system. Most basic trends in business, tech and manufacturing are normally 10 years out. Some basic skills added to middle school systems (6-8 years out of graduation and tech training) can be used in any business. Example, adding coding as a langue option. More people are going to write code in 10 years then they write Spanish. Adding metal fab skills beyond automotive to your 9-12 programs. Almost any metal based program needs to know basic metal fabrication. Construction is all… Read more »

gcp
gcp
3 years ago
Reply to  Indypendant

Southwire in Carrollton has a pretty impressive program where they employ high school students part-time. Upon graduation 40% of the kids go on to post-secondary education, 30% enter the military and 20% go to work for Southwire.

http://www.southwire.com/ourcompany/sustainability/12-for-life.htm

Saltycracker
Saltycracker
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

The Idea is attract employers with qualified residents so we don’t need to subsidize the hell out of their companies. Be happy to recount stories of manufacturers getting millions from states to train employees and then the state getting short sheeted.

There are just so many ways to skin a commissioner It’s a sport that deserves some kind of awards ceremony.

Saltycracker
Saltycracker
3 years ago
Reply to  Saltycracker

…….,”With OUR qualified residents” (shovel tech ready workers ?)

Will Durant
Will Durant
3 years ago
Reply to  Indypendant

That is presuming that an education focusing on “American Exceptionalism” that also eliminates the teaching of evilution helps us meet those expectations.

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Charlie,

May be a little of topic, but do you know what percentage of the Fed block grant that GA receives actually goes directly to people as cash payments or food stamps? Read a report that said for instance in LA, that number is only 8%. The rest is has been used to plug budget shortfalls, fund other programs not welfare related etc.

Know where I can find this info?

Ellynn
Ellynn
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

You are correct about the block grants. They are written to be spent on a set criteria that has to be defined for it’s use. It also has to meet the federal requirements of it’s funding source (be it USDA, Dept of Def, HHS, Dept of Ed ect). You can not use a block granted funded by HHS for Head Start on the USDA Food stamps program to feed Head Start kids.. Just like you can’t use the Food stamps program to fund a Department of Labor training project. Additionally, each department has their own set of required rules to… Read more »

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace
3 years ago
Reply to  Ellynn

Hmm. Maybe I am not understanding this correctly. Are block grants for Welfare funded out of each department into one block grant for each state? The report mentioned for instance that in LA, welfare was being funnelled to fund Head Start for instance. Maybe I am confusing things by using the term “block grants” Here is the piece from the article I am referencing: “Walters says one problem is that over the years, welfare spending in the state has been slashed. The law Clinton signed allowed states to use federal TANF funds for things other than welfare. And when state… Read more »

George Chidi
George Chidi
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

About 850,000 Georgian receive food stamps — about 8 percent — mostly because it’s all federal money.

About 18,000 families received TANF … but 14,995 were child-only cases, mostly foster children in the care of relatives. Only 2,782 adult recipients got straight cash. Those adults must participate in a work program, unless there are special circumstances. The average benefit amount is $159.69 per month.

http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/sites/dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/files/OFI%20info%20sheet%20-%202016DFCS.pdf

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

According to the report Im referencing, that is precisely what has happened in LA (and some other states but I cant remember what the others were). Welfare reform ala Bill Clinton years loosened the reigns a bit. And some states are further stretching the definition of what welfare is. There was one state using the funds for a marriage counseling program for instance. (That state was not LA.). And yes about it being a problem for future budgets. That’s what they are running into now. Which is why I am curious for a source of how GA spends its block… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse
3 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Obama administration changes concerning exempt employees and raising the minimum below which employees receive overtime pay are examples of actions that help incentivize movement to first tier management jobs. Among the changes that have squeezed the middle class over the past 30 years is the expectation of employers that government should be responsible for very job-specific training. (Millennials don’t know any better.) More skilled labor would present itself if pay were higher. Few will change jobs for a small increase in pay unless they are unhappy about other elements of their job. Housing values have more or less fully rebounded… Read more »

Saltycracker
Saltycracker
3 years ago

Liberal arts: (generally risky because of choices) but depends on where you want you career to go..Played right it is a plus to growing businesses as they plan to teach potential managers, policies, procedures, accounting, mission goals and business plans but cannot teach someone to think logically, broadly and with drive. B.S. Diplomas can come with issues in the business environment today too. As for committees like PolicyBEST, they have some very good ideas. The challenge is if their messages are being answered. If they can’t get legislators and decision makers to listen to something in 24 months do one… Read more »

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