Workforce continues to be the most critical issue facing Manufacturers in Georgia and across America. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia has over 640,000 annual occupational openings each year, with over 36,000 in production and an additional 23,000 in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Furthermore, Georgia Manufacturing is expected to add almost 9,000 new jobs through 2024, which includes a thimbleful of the net new jobs announced by the Georgia Department of Economic Development halfway through fiscal year 2023: 17,500 jobs.
At the same time, with only 175,000 Georgians unemployed (February 2023) and the state experiencing declining birth rates, the problem isn’t having enough jobs: clearly, it is and will continue to be having enough people—people with skills suitable for manufacturing. Left unchecked, Georgia may run the risk of losing long-time legendary employers. Now, more than ever, Georgia’s Manufacturers must think of new ways to address workforce risks before they become overwhelming.
As the only association in Georgia dedicated to representing manufacturers, GAM is well-positioned to confront these workforce challenges and associated risks. We believe GAM has the unique insights and resources necessary to serve the industry in the following strategic roles:
- Convenor: taking the lead for the industry to organize resources and foster collaboration.
- Aggregator: identifying and sharing best practices and innovative solutions.
- Advocate: serving Georgia’s manufacturers by being the industry’s unified voice on workforce issues.
To confront this challenge, in the fall of 2022, GAM formed the Workforce Advisory Committee, a group of GAM members with workforce development expertise. The Committee collaborated to endorse GAM’s workforce roles and develop a proposal to guide and direct the Association in developing innovative, member-directed workforce solutions. The proposal suggested three key strategies:
- Regionalize GAM members to foster localized workforce initiatives.
- Bolster partnerships with high-value stakeholders.
- Reimagine the use of GAM’s Manufacturing Education Foundation (MEF) funds to implement value-focused solutions, a mechanism created in the 1940s to fund scholarships.
At GAM’s 2023 fall board meeting, its Board of Directors wholeheartedly endorsed the proposal for Workforce Development. On February 1, 2023, Stephanie Scearce was hired as GAM’s Director of Workforce Development to provide vision and leadership to address this critical issue for members and support the efforts of the Committee. Stephanie is presently collaborating with the Committee to develop a strategic plan for implementing the approved proposal.
The first step of several is to initiate a thorough needs assessment to inventory and assess the workforce needs of GAM members. The assessment will also provide insight into forming the most efficient and effective regions, allowing members to optimize resources best – including the use of MEF funds – and deliver immediate, impactful local solutions. Within a year or less, GAM intends to initiate regional pilot solutions.
Following is GAM’s timeline for initiating the Workforce Advisory Committee’s proposal.
May 8, 2023
Initiate needs assessment.
June 9, 2023
Close needs assessment.
Collect, analyze, and regionalize workforce needs.
Publish collective workforce needs for each region. Seek member endorsement.
October - December 2023
Partner with members to develop solutions explicitly addressing the collective workforce needs of each region.
January - March 2024
Determine MEF funding involvement and engage appropriate stakeholders to implement member-endorsed solutions and foster new labor participation.
Initiate member-endorsed pilot solutions for each region.
Initiate the first metrics report of member-endorsed pilot solutions.
Georgia Department of Labor Short-Term Industry Projections, Statewide 2022 – 2024, March 2023
Georgia Department of Economic Development Press Release: Key Industries Sustain Momentum for State's Economic Development, January 19, 2023, https://www.georgia.org/press-release/key-industries-sustain-momentum-states-economic-development.
Georgia Department of Labor Short-Term Occupational Projections, Statewide 2022 – 2024, March 2023
Georgia Department of Labor, Workforce Statistics & Economic Research, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, February 2023.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Vital Statistics Rapid Release Reports 2017 – 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/reports.htm
Workforce / Plant Management Seminar
Every year in June, GAM sponsors its Workforce / Plant Management Seminar (Seminar). Well attended by Members and Associates, the Seminar brings together a terrific roster of speakers to address issues relevant to plant managers and human resource professionals. Topics may include recent labor and employment law developments, workforce development issues, forecasts and outlook for the state, regional and national economies, health care issues, increasing efficiency and productivity in manufacturing operations, risk management, and any other pressing issues facing manufacturers. In addition to the meeting program, which takes place over 2-3 days, there are ample opportunities for social activities and networking with industry colleagues.
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