Dozens of area leaders gathered in downtown Albany on a February morning for the officially kick-off Albany-Dougherty County Works!, a comprehensive workforce development initiative facilitated by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government.
Developed by a steering committee of 20 community leaders in collaboration with the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, the initiative is designed to help strengthen the area’s workforce development by aligning the business and educational efforts of the community.
The Institute of Government team helped collect and analyze the feedback of more than 100 community members, including students, educators, employers, and job seekers. They also provided additional data comparing Albany to its peers in both the state and region.
“Like many communities, we used to be much more siloed in terms of our approach to community development and economic development and leading this community forward,” said Bárbara Rivera Holmes, president and CEO of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the University System Board of Regents. “Now we’re much more collaborative, much more geared towards partnerships and asking for help when we need it or extending the arm to say this is something we could do better together.”
The initiative focuses on the necessary steps to establish a skilled, local workforce – a key ingredient for attracting new jobs, supporting existing businesses, and strengthening the community. It establishes both short- and long-term strategies to accomplish that goal, with a focus on three key priorities: Community Connection and Coordination, Youth Pipeline Development, and Continued Adult Preparation.
“Through the feedback we received from the community and the steering committee, we learned that the community already has numerous workforce development assets that are all doing good work,” said Greg Wilson, a workforce development and economic analysis manager for the Institute of Government. “This initiative is designed to help get everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction.”
The area already has lots of good jobs, with the potential for more according to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital CEO and steering committee member Joe Austin. The initiative will help inform existing job seekers of what’s available, while also helping to develop the workforce necessary for the future.
“If we continue to let our kids in junior high and high school know that if you stay local and get your education, that there’s going to be a job when you finish, why would they choose to leave?” Austin said. “We’ve got to make ourselves magnetic as a community. We’ve got to teach them early why they should want to stay home and work.”
Aaron Cox Public Relations Coordinator
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Greg Wilson Carl Vinson Workforce Development & Economic Analysis Manager