The Deepening Skills Gap Affecting Metropolitan Atlanta

One of the most pressing issues in the United States today is that while many industries are growing there is also a growing number of jobs that are open but require skilled workers, and several states and counties are trying to fill the gap for those specific skills. 

A partnership of several foundations in Georgia including the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, The Home Depot Foundation, and The Marcus Foundation have teamed up to try and address this deepening skills gap in the metropolitan Atlanta area. In the spirit of meeting that skills demand they have awarded a $5.7 million dollar grant to the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia to be able to expand existing programs and create new ones.

This initiative’s goal is to build on the existing construction workforce all-while teaching students in-demand skills and connecting them to direct pathways to careers in a multitude of skilled trades. This helps to fill the gap between skills that are growing in demand, and the workers needed. 

Here’s what this three-year grant funding will allow the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia to accomplish: 

  • Be able to expand the number of elementary and middle school construction programs from nine to twenty across the entire state. 
  • Be able to expand the number of industry-certified high school construction programs in Georgia from forty-two to eighty.
  • Expose more 21,000 students to careers in construction 
  • Provide training and industry credentials to more than 17,500 students 
  • Place at least 3,500 students in work-based learning and full-time employment opportunities in the construction industry. 

One of the additional goals of this initiative is to increase the number of female students involved in these programs and thereby increase the number of female construction workers in the system.  

Bernie Marcus who is the co-founder of The Home Depot, as well as the Chairman of The Marcus Foundation, had this to say about the initiative this grant will fund: 

I’ve been concerned for a number of years that students have been told that if they don’t get a college education that they cannot succeed. It’s not true, and it hasn’t been true since I was a kid. Many people have been successful after learning a trade. It helps make the world work. Our country has grown and prospered because of electricians, plumbers, and all kinds of construction workers in every generation. Having a skill today can lead to a great job, no college debt, and the ability to provide for a family. 

This kind of program can especially be important in our current climate where college debt is rising at an unprecedented rate and students are defaulting on their loans. Programs like this that encourage trades and clear career paths can be a game-changer for students who will eventually work directly in these fields as well as their current and future families. 

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