Industry, stronger workforce skills key in economic recovery

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says industry is the foundation to economic growth / Sarah Bleau

Georgia's Labor Commissioner says the job soil is fertile in the Peach State: It's seen seven months of steady growth.

"I feel very confident that Georgia is again going to be one of the leaders in the nation when it comes to job growth. We're already showing signs of that right now. It's growing in spurts and I think it'll be slow but it'll be consistent," says Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Butler stopped in Albany to kick off the Economic Development Commission's Industry Celebration Week, saying that industry is the foundation to growth.

"When you have one industry that either comes in or who is here who is growing, it's not just that industry that's providing jobs but it's the other jobs they provide that grow off those industries," says Butler.

The city's workforce is a strength according to Butler, but he adds the city and state needs to invest in building skills. He says, for instance, schools in the area should teach more vocational skills and less how to take a standardized test.

"Part of that point is we don't stress enough applied knowledge in our school systems. We send our kids to school for 12 years and the biggest thing we do is bore them to death," says Albany Dougherty Economic Development Director Ted Clem.

Clem says the education system needs to get back to teaching kids how the knowledge they gain applies in the real world

"How do you take algebra and apply it in your daily lives? That's simplifying it somewhat but that is a challenge, when someone graduates from high school are they employable?" says Clem.

Butler says if Georgia, Albany included, does not have the people do to the job then there will not be growth.

"The jobs that are out there right now require skills and the employers are out there are looking for skilled, willing labor," he says.

Butler says it will take partnerships between various local and state economic organizations to re-energize the economic engine in Albany.

"Everybody we have to pull together coming out of this recession to make sure we position ourselves to bring in the kind of industries that work well with our communities," he says.

Butler adds that despite manufacturing being the third most hit hard during the recession, it is making a comeback.

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