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Mondays with Rick: Augusta Job Crunch

Editor’s Note:
Dr. Rick Franza, the esteemed Dean of AU’s Hull College of Business insists I call him, “Rick”, instead of “Dr. Franza or Dean Franza”.

Each week we’re planning to converse about an interesting business story or event or discuss something “bigger picture” in the business world.

We both attended the recent Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce panel discussion about the local labor shortage. It featured panelists Cal Wray from the Augusta Economic Development Authority, Dr. Jermaine Whirl from Augusta Technical College, Brittany Burnett from the United Way of the CSRA and Mary Hayes founder of WorkBay.

Dr. Rick Franza, Dean of AU’s Hull College of Business

ABD: Rick, anything take you by surprise at the panel discussion?

Rick: I’ve been following the Georgia unemployment numbers and was mildly surprised the unemployment rate is now as low as it is (3.5%).

I was a little disappointed to learn from Cal’s talk that 99,000 people in our area are eligible for work, but not seeking employment.

ABD: Any big takeaways from the panel discussion?

Rick: Yes, when Brittney Burnett of United Way mentioned that the cost of the state to support an unemployed person is about $5,000 in various ways (like lost tax revenue) and LESS than that to send someone to a Georgia State school. I had never heard it framed like that before.

Also, before the panel discussion started, I chatted with Lane Keen (owner of Keen Signs, who just expanded into a larger Augusta location). He’s now fully staffed and it wasn’t the money he paid, it was his culture. We are all learning that employees are looking for a place where they are treated well and respected and people like each other.

ABD: What’s the feeling at Hull with your 700 plus students?

Rick: It’s mostly optimistic. We start preparing them to think about jobs and career development when they are a freshman. Our first class is an intro to business course. We bring in a lot of companies to talk to students and they have their eye on the ball for jobs right away.

Upcoming “Mondays with Rick” will explore these business showcases at Hull College and what companies are providing guidance to students.

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