Posted at 2:19 PM
On May 6, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visited Dalton, Georgia to highlight the Commerce Department’s Skills for Business Agenda and its signature initiative, the “Communities that Work Partnership” (CWTP). As part of her visit, she toured Engineered Floors and the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy’s Advanced Manufacturing and Business Academy.
The recent ManpowerGroup's annual Talent Shortage Survey noted that 32 percent of U.S. employers report difficulties filling job vacancies due to talent shortages. Through its Skills for Business Agenda, the Commerce Department created the Communities that Work Partnership with the Aspen Institute to facilitate industry-led training partnerships that help prepare workers with the skills they need for in-demand jobs.
Secretary Pritzker got a first-hand look at how area businesses, secondary and post-secondary education institutions, non-profit organizations, and other workforce intermediaries are working together to develop a talent pipeline for local employers to fill job openings that are vital to growing the regional economy.
Business leaders and employers in the local advanced manufacturing sector warn that a severe and persistent shortage of skilled, qualified workers threatens the Northwest Georgia region’s success and competitiveness. More than 85% of the U.S. carpet and rug market is produced by mills located within a 65-mile radius of Dalton, GA, resulting in an estimated $8 billion in business activity. Although manufacturing employs 25% of the region’s workforce, with over half of the jobs specific to the floor covering industry, less than 5% of students in the region are enrolled in manufacturing-related career paths in one of the region’s five College and Career academies.
Through the Northwest Georgia Regional Workforce Partnership, the local advanced manufacturing industry has developed a collaborative model with the region’s secondary and post-secondary education institutions. The program works with industry leaders to:
- Generate interest in manufacturing at the high school level, and STEM fields at the middle school level;
- Increase enrollment in technical fields, including high school dual enrollments, to meet the demand for workers in the floor covering industry; and
- Develop accelerated training to bring those who have “dropped out” of the labor force back to work in the region’s manufacturing sector.
While the floor covering subsector is the initial focus, Northwest Georgia Regional Workforce Partnership hopes to scale its effective model to other sectors. Commerce intends to share the best practices and lessons learned with the other six participating communities and across the nation through our Economic Development Administration.
The CTWP is currently focusing its efforts to promote employer engagement to build strong talent pipelines in seven regional areas:
- Greater Phoenix
- San Francisco Bay Area
- Buffalo and Niagara Falls, New York
- Greater Houston
- Greater Washington, District of Columbia
- New York City
- Northwest Georgia
For more information about the Skills for Business Agenda and the CTWP, visit https://www.commerce.gov/tags/skills-business.