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Nov
2014
25

Unions, GA Power Partner on Job Training Program; Graduate Class is 83% Minority, 50% Female

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The inaugural class of a three-week program developed to spur workforce readiness in Georgia has graduated a small class of people ready to work the Vogtle Expansion, the state’s largest construction site.  The program was created by Georgia Power and North America’s Building Trades Unions. 

Participants in the program are taught math, blueprint reading, and safety.  Upon completion they are prepared to begin an apprenticeship in the construction trades.  

The program was developed to help meet demand for the large Vogtle project as well as to help diversify the skilled trades in the region.  Of the program’s first 16 graduates, eight were men and eight were women, while 83 percent of the participants were minorities. Kim Flowers, Vice President of Engineering for the Southern Company (Georgia Power’s parent company), said that graduates of the program have learned the skills needed for them to work anywhere, not Georgia alone.

“As short as we are and as well as the class did,” she told the Augusta Chronicle, “there should be no problem with any of them getting an apprenticeship.”

Southern Co. says they are considering replicating the program in other parts of Georgia where there is similar demand for workers and insufficient diversity in the workforce. Flowers continued:

“As we think about the success of that project, having qualified skilled-workers is the ingredient that will make the difference at the end of the day,” she said. “The construction industry is booming across the country.”

Speaking at the ceremony for the graduates was Georgia Sen. Jesse Stone. He praised both the program and the students, one of whom was Ray La Luz. He had previously completed a one-year certification program in welding at Augusta Technical College. A week before the ceremony he was accepted to be an apprentice at Plant Vogtle.  The importance of a career opportunity such as this can be quite moving. La Luz told the Augusta Chronicle, “It’s the first step of the rest of my life.”

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