Collaboration key to raising workforce’s skills

To reach its full potential, it seems clear that metro Atlanta needs skilled, trained, educated workers – and more of them.

It is not a simple task to educate those workers, retain them once they’ve graduated from high schools, colleges or universities, and connect them with employers. Examples of the challenges jump from the headlines of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Many organizations have cut training, apprenticeship programs and higher education subsidies, which can make it more difficult for workers to unlock their capabilities (Dan Chapman, “Business training shrinks,” AJC, Aug. 3). Meanwhile, Georgia’s high school graduation rate ranks among the lowest in the nation.

The importance of this issue truly sinks in when our state’s leaders work to “sell” Georgia’s advantages to executives considering investing and creating jobs in Georgia. The biggest concern of those decision-makers is whether they will be able to find skilled workers if they come to Georgia. At Deloitte’s 2,300-employee Atlanta office, one of our strategic priorities is to find job candidates who can hit the ground running, ask thoughtful questions, understand the needs of clients and recommend a course of action. A strong cradle-to-career pipeline is necessary for our region and its job-generating companies to prosper.

As an Atlanta native, I am honored to serve as the new chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Education Policy Committee. The committee’s goal is to create a stronger, more prepared workforce and help grow our own businesses and communities by retaining talented graduates. Leaders from a broad cross-section of the business community are working together on the committee to identify the most effective ways to improve student achievement in metro Atlanta. I am extremely encouraged by the commitment, skills and breadth of knowledge the committee brings to the table.

If metro Atlanta is to put the needs of students first, teamwork and a spirit of service will be essential. It is important that government, businesses and nonprofits determine how they can better work together. By collaborating with key institutions, businesses can help our children achieve the success they deserve – in school as well as in their careers. I am confident we can make a difference.

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Ed Heys is managing partner for the Atlanta office of Deloitte LLP and chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Education Policy Committee.