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May 2011 Issue

Georgia’s Higher Education Systems Provide Programs Vital to Jobs of the Future

On Thursday, May 19 from 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., the 2011 National Manufacturing Summit was held in Dalton, Georgia to highlight the importance of manufacturing to the nation’s economy, especially Georgia. The event was sponsored by a number of Dalton area civic organizations with the support of the private sector.

Many American manufacturing centers have been hard hit by the declining economy, and one of the hardest hit is Dalton – Georgia’s textile manufacturing center – which currently has an 11.5 percent unemployment rate.

“It is important that all of higher education work to create job opportunities in Georgia’s critical manufacturing sector,” said Board of Regents Chair Willis Potts. “Georgia’s public postsecondary systems – the University System of Georgia and the Technical College System of Georgia – each play a key role in preparing Georgians for 21st century jobs.”

One of the challenges facing manufacturing is access to a workforce that is educated to perform these jobs of the future. According to Complete College America – a national nonprofit working to significantly increase the number of Americans with a college degree – by the end of this decade, more than 60 percent of jobs will require college education. Today, 34 percent of Georgia’s adults aged 25-34 have college degrees, including certificates through bachelor’s degrees.

The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University found that by 2018, America will need 22 million new college degrees but will fall short by 3 million for associate’s degree or better and will need 4.7 million new workers with postsecondary certificates.

As to how higher education can strengthen manufacturing, Dalton State College has used its Board of Regents’ designated state college mission status to work closely with local business and manufacturing leaders to develop academic programs to meet their needs for educated workers. Although applicable to any field, Dalton’s operations management program has a particular focus on local Dalton industry. The program gives students a rigorous background in three key areas of operations management (quality, integrated materials management, and information technology) in conjunction with traditional business curricula.

“We appreciate the focus of the Summit and the opportunity we’ve been given, especially through Georgia Tech President Bud Peterson’s participation, to give insight into how we can help revitalize the economy through higher education,” said Regent Jim Jolly, a Dalton area resident.

“Advanced manufacturing requires a well-educated workforce that’s highly-trained in the industry’s latest methodologies and cutting-edge trends,” said Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson. “There’s no doubt that advanced manufacturing can grow and thrive in Georgia and the nation through close collaboration between the industries and the education resources of the local school systems, technical colleges and university system.”

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) has a long history of serving the workforce training needs of business and industry in northwest Georgia. Recently, the college addressed workforce needs of companies in Murray and Whitfield counties by expanding its presence in those communities. Soon, the college will offer programs specifically tailored to the skill sets required by advanced manufacturing, including the flooring industry, in Dalton and the surrounding area. GNTC will continue to work closely with business and industry, the local school systems, including the innovative Whitfield Career Academy, and Dalton State College to ensure that the area’s economic development goals are met.

Along with President Peterson and Commissioner Jackson, Summit speakers include: Congressman Tom Graves, T. Boone Pickens and Thomas Fanning. The Summit was sponsored by: The City of Dalton, the Dalton Whitfield Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, The Carpet and Rug Institute, Dalton Utilities and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Registration was free for the Summit, which was held at the North Georgia Trade & Convention Center.

Posted by Sonja Roberts on May 27, 2011
Published in: Board of Regents

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