Workforce: it’s the new hot button topic due to a nation-wide shortage of people willing to work. The need for skilled workers is already a great one in our community. Taurus reported needed 80 positions filled in March. Steward Machine Company made the comment that if they had 100 welders, they could hire them all immediately. A-1 Industries of Georgia will soon finish their roof truss manufacturing facility and hire 130. Danimer Scientific looks to build their new plant here within the next two years and will hire 400 employees.
Knowing of this issue along with what Bainbridge has on the horizon, The Chamber started having conversations with industry leaders and local educators to work to mitigate this problem. The goal is to create a pipeline of workers from our local schools to the businesses here in Bainbridge. Out of our conversations with industry and education, two themes surfaced: there is a lack of awareness about the quality jobs available among students, parents, and teachers and secondly, the great majority of jobs available require no post high school education and offer great benefits: healthcare, 401K, vacation, sick leave, and even tuition reimbursement for continuing education.
Understanding the need to bridge the gap, the Chamber’s workforce development committee, chaired by Darrell Cox, began to work on connecting our local manufacturers to the classroom. The first step in that was the Industry Immersion Tour. On June 7th, the Chamber and Economic Development Authority facilitated a tour with 30 educators and 4 industries in Decatur County. The focus of each tour was on building awareness around what jobs were available, the skills needed to obtain the jobs, and the pay/benefits associated.
“The teachers were extremely excited to learn what the companies had to offer because it helped them see the end result for the students they teach. At the end of the day – these educators aren’t just providing an education, they are giving these students the means to provide for themselves and their families one day, the means to fulfill their dreams.” – Lauren Minor, Chamber President
The tour revealed itself to be a great tool for networking with many teachers and counselors making plans to invite industry leaders into their classrooms and bring their students on tours of the facilities. Their hopes are to help students understand the quality of jobs available to them after high school.
“Not only do we want to support local industry, but we want to support our community as well. This goes right along with our mission to strengthen business, foster economic growth, and improve the quality of life for all,” stated Lauren Minor, Chamber President.
See WXTL Tallahassee's coverage on the Industry Immersion Tour here: