Local business leaders and educators talk technical education with 9th District U.S. Representative Doug Collins.
The congressman attended a roundtable event at North Georgia Technical College in Clarkesville Wednesday to discuss issues facing technical colleges.
Businesses and school officials from numerous area counties, including Stephens, were on hand to talk with Collins about the benefits of North Georgia Technical College, as well as issues facing it.
Collins said he felt it was a good opportunity to talk about all of the good things that the technical college system provides.
“The message is that our technical schools in the state of Georgia have primed us for what I have been telling the folks in Washington all along, that we are primed for business,” said Collins. “Even in the times that we have come through, our technical system has stepped up to the plate and provided jobs and as we have heard, even in this room, there are a lot of jobs that are wanting right now because people do not know they exist or do not know the need. That is where we are trying to fill the gap.”
North Georgia Tech staff and students highlighted the school’s family atmosphere and job placement rate.
Business officials also said the technical college does a great job, but add that in many cases, they are still having trouble filling all of their open manufacturing positions with the skilled labor.
Collins said it is important to change the culture and mindset about technical college and show the benefits of working in skilled labor areas like welding.
Technical college officials pointed to the need for funds to continue to provide resources to train the workers companies need.
North Georgia Technical College President Dr. Gail Thaxton said she hopes Collins will support legislation like the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act and the Workforce Investment Act.
Thaxton said those funds are crucial to what North Georgia Tech does.
“(The Higher Education Act) provides funding that comes to students in the form of Pell grants or Perkins dollars that we use to buy equipment,” said Thaxton. “The WIA gives us adult education funds. Without increased funding in those areas, we could be at risk of losing those programs.”
Collins said the House is focused on streamlining those funding processes used to get the money to schools.
“Sometimes if you just clean up the system, more (money) flows to where they need it to go,” said Collins.
Collins also toured the school’s welding building while on campus.