Submitted by the Georgia Department of Labor
The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) is teaming with Whitfield and Murray County business and community leaders to help connect job seekers with employers looking to fill vacant positions.
A three-day Job Readiness Kick Off Talent Attraction will be held Monday through Wednesday, Oct. 22-24, from 1 to 8 p.m. at the trade center in Dalton. It will feature workshops, networking opportunities and résumé assistance, which will aid the job seekers in their search for work.
This event is a joint effort between the GDOL, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce-Joint Development Authority, city of Dalton, Whitfield County government, Murray County Chamber of Commerce and members of the Murray-Whitfield County faith community.
“The Greater Dalton Area is facing a number of workforce challenges,” State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said. “We have committed to working hand-in-hand with the local community to offer assistance as they work through these challenges. We have assembled a team of GDOL staff from across the state who have high levels of special skills to assist and work with the local business and community leaders in Whitfield and Murray counties. We believe that private-public partnerships like this one will be key to successful economic growth and getting Georgians back to work.”
The GDOL’s newly created Special Workforce Assistance Team (SWAT) is designed to go into communities to help with local efforts to match workers with jobs and grow the economy. The Greater Dalton Area was selected as the first site to receive SWAT assistance because it has an unemployment rate among the highest in the state, hovering around 12 percent.
The “Carpet Capital of the World” was hit hard by the housing slump that began in 2009, losing more than 3,200 jobs in 2011 alone. However, local employers have jobs available and business leaders say the city still has fewer residents than it has jobs. The key, they say, is connecting the job seekers with the available jobs.
“The key to growing and re-building the job market in the Dalton area is the alignment of skills with available jobs,” Butler said. “We know we have people with the talent and skills to fill those jobs. We just need to find ways to make the connection between the job seekers and the available jobs.”
Brian Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, said, “The Great Recession will have lasting effects for our country, our state and especially our greater Dalton community. Due to the re-tooling of the carpet industry and the continued introduction of more and more automated and computerized processes, many have been displaced and need retraining.
“As a community, we must be innovative in assisting our citizens in preparing to re-enter the workforce with new skills that will enable them to succeed in a globally competitive and high-tech economy,” Anderson added. “We are grateful to Commissioner Mark Butler and the Georgia Department of Labor for working with our local community in building a unique and innovative approach to assessing what needs to be done and in assisting our unemployed population find meaningful and lasting employment.”
During the three-day kickoff, job seekers will go through an initial interview, as GDOL employees begin collecting information about their work history and skills to help them develop a free résumé. The participants will then be directed to different workshops — “Reality 101,” “Interviewing,” “Social Media” and “Marketing Yourself” — as they begin working on a new game plan for their future.
SWAT team members will use the information collected to match the job seekers with available jobs. The participants will be invited to return to a career expo on Wednesday, Dec. 5, to meet business leaders and employers who are looking to fill jobs. The expo will also be held at the trade center.
“One of the most important components to a person being able to care for his or her family is having a job,” said Elyse Cochran, executive director of the Joint Development Authority. “This event has the potential to change lives in a positive way and provide our community with a forum to display the spirit of resilience it is known for. We are very appreciative to Commissioner Mark Butler and his DOL team for turning their attention and providing resources to our part of the state.”
Through a number of partnerships between state agencies, participants will also be able to attend other information workshops, such as seminars on coping with career changes and information sessions on HomeSafe Georgia, which is aimed at helping Georgians avoid foreclosure.
Students from Dalton and Southeast Whitfield high schools, who are involved in the GDOL’s GeorgiaBEST soft skills certification course, will also take part in the talent attraction and career expo, as part of their community service project.
Following the talent attraction and the subsequent career expo, the SWAT team will hand the baton over to GDOL’s Dalton Career Center and the local faith community. Career center staff will continue to work with job seekers, as well as companies, in re-writing job orders to attract applicants with the right skills. Local churches plan to hold regular workshops for job seekers and other networking events.