Be Pro Be Proud is coming to Georgia

A new approach to attracting the next generation of skilled workers to coastal Georgia is an 18-wheeler.

The Be Pro Be Proud Mobile Workshop is a national movement to advance the nation's workforce and launched its efforts in the state with the Be Pro Be Proud Georgia exhibit Monday afternoon in the Plant River District in downtown Savannah. Be Pro Be Proud has mobile workshops in Arkansas, New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas, among other locations.

Inside the truck, high school students can participate in simulators and game stations to gain insight into careers such as truck driving and healthcare.

The demonstration encourages young people to take up apprenticeships.

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“It just gives them an experience of what they could do if they chose this career,” said Misti Martin, president and CEO of Be Pro Be Proud Georgia. “The same goes for welding. You hold the wand in your hand and see metal being sewn together.”

The results of the regional workforce study conducted by Wadley Donovan Gutshaw Consulting were released in November 2023 and showed that the region does not have the talent pool to support the 15,000 jobs available by 2025. The study was conducted to determine the workforce needs in the region.

Worse still, essential skilled workers like electricians and plumbers could decline significantly as baby boomers in those jobs are expected to retire in 2030, according to Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber.

“We have spent 20 years telling every high school student that they need a four-year degree, so there is no pipeline to fill these positions,” Clark said. “We need to quickly train an entire generation to fill the jobs that the baby boomers will leave.”

Be Pro Be Proud Georgia will continue its statewide initiative in Woodstock and LaGrange, to name a few, but Martin called Savannah the best place to kick off.

“We’re excited about the growth you’ve seen in the Savannah area,” Martin said. “We have been to schools here in recent years and had very successful visits.”

During the introduction ceremony, Clark said 78% of high school students said they valued value in skilled careers, but 73% of those children said their parents would force them to get a degree, according to statistics that show Clark published by the Wall Street Journal. He added that stereotypes about skilled jobs keep young people away from certain industries.

“They don’t learn the value of these jobs, how much they make and what skills they require,” Clark said. “I think part of it is actually because I realize it's not your father's fabrication. It's clean technology, essentially you're a robot, and that's what we need to teach kids – that these are the jobs of the future. We also need to start convincing parents about the value of college degrees, certificates and jobs like this.

According to Indeed, the average wage for skilled workers is $19.95 per hour, a salary that puts buying a home out of reach. But Clark said workers should rely on their skills to advance in their respective careers and earn higher wages.

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“As long as you continue to acquire the skills you need, these companies will promote you,” Clark said. “Jobs that paid $11 an hour six years ago now pay $33 an hour. There's a lot of inflation out there, right? You have to address this issue and also deal with housing issues, but these companies also get better benefits, more flexibility and more training.”

But as young adults are introduced to these new skills, industries like hospitality and fast food restaurants could see their workforce shrink. Clark said cannibalization is “unavoidable.”

“There will always be a natural exodus of jobs in the market,” Clark said. “Young men and women will always seek better opportunities as their skills improve. We have enough people, what this community needs to focus on are the men and women who want to work but are unable to right now – people who are incarcerated, foster children, seniors who still want to work, etc. Veterans. “

Clark said an influx of newcomers has migrated from Pennsylvania, while the state has also seen an increase in residents from New York, New Jersey and Florida.

“Some people from surrounding states will move to Atlanta; You just have to convince them to move up the coast,” Clark said. “But the more important part is taking care of the people who already want to live and work here. How can we break down this barrier and get her?”

Latrice Williams is a general assignment reporter covering Bryan and Effingham County. She can be reached at [email protected].

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