By David Pendered
The No. 1 attribute that business leaders say will they want in their employees is the ability to collaborate, according to a report to Gov. Nathan Deal on high demand careers.
The report also states the top five careers of the future in Georgia will be mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, welder, machinist, and computer numerical control operator, according to the report.
For these technical skills to provide their full value, employees must have “soft skills.” The report defines soft skills in terms that boil down to collaboration:
- “Nearly every employer discussed the importance of soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and work ethic.”
Younger employees tend to fall short in soft skills, according to the report.
Employers also have trouble finding potential workers who can pass background screenings and drug tests, according to the report related to the Governor’s High Demand Career Initiative.
Deal released the report Dec. 10. It is the product of a series of listening sessions held around the state since Deal formed the initiative in January and called for it to be led by the Georgia Department of Economic Development, University System of Georgia, and the Technical College System of Georgia.
The report comes as a December report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Georgia continues to have the highest unemployment rate in the nation. The BLS reported that 364,700 Georgians were unemployed in October. Georgia’s unemployment rate was dropping more slowly than most other states in the south, according to the report.
Some comments from business leaders that were included in the report may explain why Georgia’s unemployed are finding it so difficult to get a job. Here are a few snippets:
- “We have to go out of state to find maintenance candidates.” – Toyo Tires
- “We’ve been pulling some out of Alabama and Florida, but in southwest Georgia in particular it’s been very hard to find welders. I think we’ve found two in the Atlanta area, and that’s it as far as Georgia over the past two years.” – LMC Manufacturing
- “I need people that know how to do program management. It’s a complex, dynamic world of cobbling together a team and bringing your program to the finish line, so when you deliver to the customer it’s on time, it’s good quality, and you’re making a good cost to them and a profit for your company.” – Meggitt PLC
The next steps for the High Demand Career Initiative involve an ongoing collaboration between industry and government to ensure that Georgia’s education system is offering skills that will help people get and keep jobs.
Industry examples include:
- Georgia Power collaborating with South Georgia Technical College to create an electrical lineman program, whose graduates will fill a looming shortage of linemen;
Pratt & Whitney collaborating with Muscogee County’s school district and Columbus Technical College to bring in high school interns. So far, 54 interns have participated and half earned jobs with the company after graduation;
- A number of companies near Savannah creating the Maritime Logistics Education Taskforce, which now links high school interns with companies that often hire the students after graduation.
On the government side, Deal has proposed the state Legislature agree to expand financial aid available to students enrolled in technical colleges in some high demand training programs.
The governor also proposed that the state’s Board of Education allow computer programming credits to count toward requirements for math, science and foreign language. Deal also has asked the Board of Regents to count those credits for admission to its institutions.