Innovation, partnerships feed job growth

Labor Day is a time to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. In an effort to increase support to Georgia’s strong workforce, we have reshaped the operations of the Georgia Department of Labor to improve our positive impact on economic development.

There are great strides being made across the state in workforce and economic development. I am proud of our strengthened partnerships with QuickStart, as well as the Technical College and University systems. I am constantly impressed with their endeavors to train our workforce.

Frequently, a top issue for Georgia businesses is finding qualified talent for available jobs. One area of concern is a lack of soft skills in the workforce. More than 69 percent of first-time hires lose a job through a lack of soft skills. The Department of Labor has created initiatives to address these concerns.

Georgia BEST (Business Ethics Student Training) is a program that we started in 20 high schools in 2012. It has since expanded to more than 212 schools across the state with 13,213 graduates. This program teaches the basic workplace skills like teamwork, showing up on time, conflict remediation, and many other skills important to getting and maintaining employment. Upon graduation from the program, students receive a certification from the Georgia Department of Labor and have a portfolio of accomplishments for job interviews.

And, as an additional effort to help match jobseekers with employers, we created the Special Workforce Assistance Team (SWAT). This program helps job seekers overcome barriers to success. The SWAT staff work specifically with communities that have been hit hard economically. Staff partner with local chambers of commerce and other nonprofits to provide services such as resume writing, mock interviews, and dressing for success, among other important skills.

I am honored to lead the Georgia Department of Labor and proud of our team which, through continued innovation, puts Georgians back to work. Since January 2011, we have hosted more than 3,000 recruitment events and there have been more than 290,000 new jobs created in Georgia. We are proud of the dedicated workers in our state and we will continue to strive to serve Georgia citizens and match job seekers with employers.

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Mark Butler is Georgia Labor Commissioner.