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State director discusses Gwinnett's progress on employment program

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Allan Dalrymple with the Emergency Services Education program at Gwinnett Technical College, right, explains some of the training techniques at the college to Melvin Everson, the director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Development, during a tour of the campus on Wednesday. Listening in the background is David McCulloch, Vice President of Economic Development at GTC.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Allan Dalrymple with the Emergency Services Education program at Gwinnett Technical College, right, explains some of the training techniques at the college to Melvin Everson, the director of the Governor's Office of Workforce Development, during a tour of the campus on Wednesday. Listening in the background is David McCulloch, Vice President of Economic Development at GTC.

LAWRENCEVILLE — Gwinnett Technical College is poised to help the county become the first Certified Work Ready Community in the metro Atlanta area, school officials told the director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development on Wednesday.

Ann Sechrist, Gwinnett Tech’s director of economic development and Work Ready administrator, said the county needs 190 currently employed workers to earn the Work Ready certificate for Gwinnett to receive the designation.

Snellville resident Melvin Everson, the state’s work force development director, said he knows the county has what it takes to become a certified community. Through the certification, the statewide initiative enables counties to showcase their ability to staff both existing and new industries.

“The more tools we have in the toolbox to position Georgia (to attract businesses), the better off we’re going to be,” Everson said. “Work Ready is another tool in the toolbox.”

Everson, a former state representative who was appointed to his current position when Gov. Nathan Deal took office, said he is visiting all 26 technical colleges in the state to learn how the schools are addressing the work force needs of their respective communities.

“(Work Ready is) still a young initiative. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re prepared to do that,” Everson said. “We’re going to take the foundation that was laid and build upon it with collaborative partnerships.”

Technical colleges are key partners in the initiative because they are the “backbone of the workforce,” Everson said. He said he thinks there needs to be more parity between the institutions in the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia.

“I believe we are still in a recession ... and the pendulum is swinging and causing us to rethink how we do things (in education),” Everson said. “Education was built on an agrarian society, but the work force has changed now. The way we did things 15 or 20 years ago, it’s gone. The way we do things now, in five years, it will be obsolete.

“Technical colleges are proving to be (an important) option as far as the workforce. ... There’s a proper place for both institutions of learning.”

For more information about Work Ready, visit www.gaworkready.org.