ATLANTA – State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler announced today that Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) in Rome has become the first institution of higher learning in Georgia to offer GeorgiaBEST, the Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) initiative that teaches workplace soft skills.
“I commend President Pete McDonald for recognizing the need to incorporate soft skills training into the curriculum at Georgia Northwestern Technical College,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Georgia Northwestern and the other technical colleges in Georgia are well respected for the excellent job they do preparing students with the skills that are in demand in today’s workforce. The addition of soft skills training will make them even better prepared to get good jobs and have successful careers.”
Commissioner Butler launched GeorgiaBEST, an acronym for Business Ethics Student Training, as a pilot program in January 2012 at 20 high schools in 12 Georgia counties. The program is designed to help students make a successful transition from school to college or the workforce by developing their soft skills, such as punctuality, attitude, and communications. It has now grown to nearly 260 schools throughout the state.
The lack of soft skills is a significant problem for employers and job seekers. More that 60 percent of employers say applicants lack “communications and interpersonal skills,” according to a survey by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College. Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring for Attitude and CEO of Leadership IQ, a research and leadership training company, is quoted in a 2012 article by Forbes Magazine as saying that research by his company shows that when first-time hires fail, 89 percent of the time it’s because of attitudinal reasons.
“The GeorgiaBEST program gives our adult education students the opportunity to better develop job-place skills, which will be of tremendous advantage in the future,” said Pete McDonald, president, GNTC. “The workplace ethics principles included in the program is fully supported by college adult education instructors and the employers in our region. The program is an example of the strong partnership between the adult education program of the Technical College System of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Labor.”
Students who participate in the program are evaluated by their teachers on their soft skills and, upon completion of the program, are awarded GeorgiaBEST certificates. The certification serves as validation to employers that students have successfully displayed strong work habits that will foster success in higher education and in the workplace.
Students earning the certificate must study and be assessed on 10 soft skill-standards as set by the GDOL and participate in at least one of the required projects. Those soft skills, put together by the GDOL with input from business and industry, include discipline and character, attendance and punctuality, work habits, teamwork, time management, attitude, communications skills, responsibility, and organization.
“We are thrilled to partner with the Georgia Department of Labor and provide this important training to our adult education students,” said Connie Smith, vice president of Adult Education at GNTC. “We want to do everything we can to help our students get a job and keep a job. By integrating these standards in our daily lesson plans, we will help our students understand how these soft skills are critical to their future success.”
In addition to Rome, GNTC has campuses in Calhoun, Dalton, Rockmart and Rock Spring.
“In today’s work environment, business ethics training is ideal for our adult education students, said Beverly Smith, assistant commissioner for Adult Education, the Technical College System of Georgia. “Most will join the workforce at an entry level after they earn their GED, so the GeorgiaBEST skills are a win-win for our GED graduates and their employers. We’re also strengthening Adult Education’s partnership with the Georgia Department of Labor. Our goal is ‘Creating a Workforce for Georgia and a Future for Families,’ and it ties directly to Labor’s mission to employ more Georgians and increase the state’s economic prosperity.”
Commissioner Butler said, “We’re optimistic that the inclusion of GeorgiaBEST in the curriculum at Georgia Northwestern will pave the way for other technical colleges throughout Georgia to include it in their curriculums, as well.”