While the jobless rate nationally has dropped to about 8.8 percent, unemployment in the Albany area is still above the nationally average. One resource for employers and the unemployed here is the workforce development program of the Southwest Georgia Workforce Investment Board.
The director of the program, Charles Williams, spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County on April 4 about what his organization has to offer, as well as offering some background on SWGA Workforce Investment.
Williams, who joined the program about five months ago, noted that 14 counties are encompassed in the service area of SWGA Regional Planning Council, through which Workforce Development receives its federal funding. It is headquartered in Camilla, but there are satellite offices in Albany, Thomasville, Bainbridge, and Moultrie. The program is funded under the auspices of the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998.
The goal, Williams said, is to establish “an efficient and ready workforce.”
Amon g the highlights of WIA performance in Georgia, Williams said:
In 2009, over 27,000 adults, youth, and dislocated/displaced workers were served in year-round activities. (In Southwest Georgia, 1,651 people were served. Adults earned an average over six months of $14,441 and dislocated/displaced made an average of $12,661 in the same period.)
Some 70.8 percent of the adults who left training were placed into employment and 70.3 percent of dislocated/displaced workers were re-employed.
The benefits to employers are multiple, Williams emphasized:
Businesses can save money through reimbursement of up to 90 percent of trainee salaries; employers can continue to use the same hiring practice; time is allowed to train potential employees to standards and operating procedures; individuals are pre-screened for aptitude to fit particular industries; and the employer has the knowledge they are offering hope and assistance to someone within their community that needs the opportunity.
WIA training services are provided through individual training accounts in cooperation with colleges and technical institutions across Southwest Georgia. Clients receive information such as skills assessment, labor market conditions and trends, and training vendor performance “to make a self-informed choice about their own employment future.”
Nationally, according to the information presented by Williams, the WIA programs “have been at the heart of our nation’s response to the recession. Last year over 8.4 million jobseekers utilized the workforce system, and over 4.3 million got jobs, while others were placed in education and training to prepare them for new careers. WIA program participation rates have gone up 234 percent nationally in the past two years – despite that fact that funding for core WIA formula programs is virtually the same as it was in 2008.”
Ultimately, Williams concluded, “The goal is to build a world-class workforce system in Southwest Georgia that sustains and encourages economic growth.”
SWGA Workforce Development Director Charles Williams explains to the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County the benefits and results of the workforce program for employees and workers.