Sun, May 19, 2024

National workforce training program headed to Augusta

A program created by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) is coming to Augusta, one of just nine locations selected.

The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce will partner with Augusta Technical College to select a cohort of adult learners of color who are underemployed or unemployed. The program will train them in an industry credential or degree.

Details of the program are being worked out, but Sue Parr, President of the Augusta Metro Chamber, told ABD the first cohort will run for 18 months.

“You know, it’s scary for a person that hasn’t thought about that, and they want to increase their skills, they want to have a better-paying position and career. That takes coaching, that takes counseling, that takes giving people the trust that they need in order to take that big step. One of our programs right off the bat, within the next six months, we’ll be working with a cohort of 20 to 30 adults who we can really handhold and walk through the process of enrolling at Augusta Tech and earning that credential or degree,” she explained.

She said this program is particularly advantageous right now for Richmond County.

“We are growing in the manufacturing sector. We have two new manufacturers currently under construction with more on the way. Those folks are very interested in whether they’re entry-level, or even if they have a degree from Augusta Tech in industrial processes. That’s a great benefit to them and a great wage,” she said.

A news release announcing the locations said the program is getting a jumpstart, thanks to a grant from the Lumina Foundation ( which, according to its website “works in partnership with education and business leaders, civil rights organizations, policymakers, and individuals who want to reimagine how and where learning occurs.”

Sheree Ann Kelly, ACCE President and CEO

“We are grateful for Lumina Foundation’s continued support for the catalytic leadership chambers of commerce provide in the communities they serve,” said ACCE President & CEO, Sheree Anne Kelly, in the news release. “Strong cross-sector partnerships are crucial to addressing workforce challenges, building resilient local economies, and creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.”

This is the second national program to select Augusta to spearhead the development of a trained workforce. In May 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration named Augusta as one of five workforce hubs. The others are Columbus, Phoenix, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh.

Parr believes that designation was instrumental in Augusta being chosen by ACCE as one of the nine cities for this program.

“That got the attention of a lot of other organizations, and in particular, our national chamber organization,” she said. “That process is taking us through this really interesting way of working more collaboratively within the community, the private sector, education, and job seekers. How do we work better together? So, this is not a bridge too far for us to be able to kind of take that model and incorporate it into this, and then we hope to leverage that even more.”

Parr said they are contacting stakeholders including the Georgia Department of Labor, The Kroc Center, the United Way, The Hub, and other community and nonprofit organizations to find individuals to enroll in the first cohort.

“There are all sorts of nonprofits in our community that we want to have outreach with,” she said. “What can we do to not just tell people these resources are available, but actually help them with the counseling and coaching that they need to get enrolled. If they have transportation issues, we have a half-million-dollar Lyft grant for people without transportation. So, we want to take away all those barriers.”

The other communities participating in the program include Lafayette, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Moore County, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Odessa, Texas; Sumter County, Georgia; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and York County, Pennsylvania.

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