No other issue so dominates boardrooms and shipping docks as the lack of skilled workers. In the next three years, Georgia will need to fill 122,000 health care positions, 27,000 manufacturing jobs and 13,000 construction slots, according to trend reports by the Georgia Department of Labor. Look to 2030 and you’ll see a need for 40% more energy sector workers and 30% more logistics employees, and 25% more jobs will be open in hospitality. The list goes on and on.
Meeting the needs of this long-term job market requires the engagement of our K-12 and postsecondary institutions. We must engage nontraditional students; update our delivery systems; invest in innovation at our research institutions; align career pathways; offer financial grants for students who are running out of resources; provide college and career counseling, internships and apprenticeships; increase college graduation rates; improve student and faculty entrepreneurial activity; generate more patents, and promote programs that connect job seekers, educators, students and employers in a future-focused manner.
Critical to building that long-term talent pipeline are the Georgia Board of Regents and the chancellor of the University System of Georgia. This pivotal public servant is the most critical link back to the business community. Georgia has a long history of partnership between business and the Board of Regents. That’s why it is exciting to learn that former Gov. Sonny Perdue has been named sole finalist as the next chancellor.
That role is one of the most important in state government and most vital for long-term economic prosperity and mobility. I was privileged to spend a decade working directly for and with the former governor and know his heart and service. I know his love of this state is echoed in every Georgian.
As governor, Perdue had a particular passion and deep understanding of education, workforce and talent development. He has a unique strategic approach to asking tough questions and pushing individuals beyond their comfort level to develop the best solutions. His administration was so successful we were named the among the best managed states in the country by Governing Magazine in 2010.
Perdue was consistently future-focused, investing in technology, research, development, startups and industrial recruitment. Of course, his immense love of the outdoors and natural resources grew from his upbringing in Middle Georgia and led to record investments in conservation.
When Perdue served as U.S. secretary of agriculture, we saw his tireless travel and dedication to those he served. He oversaw investments in rural education, broadband expansion and postsecondary research, along with a skilled handling of international trade disputes and promotion.
Perdue brings a portfolio of success unrivaled in the history of the position he’s being considered for. Of course, in these divided times, we need a true public servant who knows how to work across the aisle, who knows this state like no other and that cares enough to enter the arena.
Georgia can win the global war for talent with strategic planning and partnerships that lift every Georgian and benefit every business in our state. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with our new chancellor as we tackle this issue.