WHO WE ARE

Workforce development has been and will continue to be a priority for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. There is an inextricable link between grooming qualified talent and growing the economy in Atlanta and, more broadly, Georgia. Over time, we began to see anecdotal evidence suggesting a misalignment between employer demand and talent supply. This is consistently reflected in conversations among employers who are unable to fill select job openings. At the same time, educators, career counselors and policymakers have been asking why the state’s well-educated and trained talent isn’t finding suitable employment. With Accenture’s expertise, we set about to establish a baseline understanding by examining entry-level job openings through a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the Atlanta and Georgia marketplace. Because of this work, students and jobseekers have a resource to understand the pathways to opportunity.

View the “Education to Workforce Launch Event” Presentation

Workforce development has and will continue to be a priority for the Chamber. There is an inextricable link between grooming qualified talent and growing the economy in Atlanta, and Georgia more broadly. Over time, we began to see anecdotal evidence suggesting a misalignment between employer demand and talent supply. This is consistently reflected in conversations among employers who are unable to fill select job openings. At the same time, educators, career counselors and policy makers have been asking why the state’s well-educated and trained talent isn’t finding suitable employment. With Accenture’s expertise, we set about to establish a baseline understanding by examining entry level job openings through a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the Atlanta and Georgia marketplace.
Our suspicions were confirmed. In fact, there is an imbalance between talent supply and employer demand resulting from a defined skills gap. For instance, the data tells us that the number of job postings jumped to 154% between 2010 and 2015, compared to a 142% growth rate nationally….Yet, we also know that Georgia has the 33rd highest level of unemployment in the country. Students and jobseekers report that their degrees, training and skills are not mirroring credentials outlined in job postings. While employers say too many students and jobseekers lack the degrees and certifications required for the job. Employers across all occupations also highlighted a need for enhanced soft skills education and training.
The research reveals that many students graduating from Georgia higher learning institutions hold degrees and certificates in fields with narrowing occupational demand. Meanwhile, employers report they have an abundance of job openings requiring specific degrees and certifications in growing fields, and there are too few candidates in those areas of study or with relevant experience. For example, the number of students majoring in computer science has leveled off since 2008, while employer demand for IT professionals continues to rise.
Employers cite the need for core professional or soft skills including verbal and written communication, problem-solving, punctuality, professional appearance, to name a few. Employers also report that a lack of soft skills presents the biggest barrier to hiring otherwise well-qualified candidates. One difficulty that we found when discussing soft skills is that the term often has a different meaning to individual businesses or education institutions across the region.
Overall, the highest in demand occupations and technical skill sets are among business, healthcare and technology… In the healthcare industry demand gaps are driven by a nursing shortage…. At the Technical Certificate level, Business Management & Marketing were by far in the highest in-demand occupations. At the Associate degree level, healthcare related jobs are in high demand which is in contrast to the oversupply of candidates at the Technical Certificate level. Business and Computer Science related jobs are the highest in-demand jobs at the Bachelor degree level.

IT-related jobs such as Computer Systems Analysts and Software Developers draw the largest salaries among the top tier in-demand occupations. Demand for these jobs is also expected to grow faster than other occupations, followed by accountants and auditors.

The top five baseline skills are inherent to Liberal Arts programs – communications, organization, writing, customer service and problem solving.
Sales and accounting are consistently ranked among the highly-demanded skills in Georgia. Repair, scheduling and mathematics round out the top five.
The collective “we” needs to do a better job of communicating across the lifetime learning spectrum so that students and jobseekers, no matter their education, degree/certificate or career path, are properly credentialed and skilled for the profession of their choice. Likewise, the onus is on employers to refine and rethink how they qualify job candidates and create their job postings. We also need to explore how we ensure that the resources, both the taxpayer and student portions, are being utilized as efficiently as possible, and that we examine how our overall talent development systems work together.
Our primary goal, and with this newly released data, is to raise awareness about: where jobs exist today, which occupations have the greatest growth potential (acknowledging this will be dynamic over time), and which credentials and skills are needed for those jobs. Students making decisions about higher education should be armed with this information to make more informed choices.

Educators, parents and counselors supporting students and jobseekers also need this data to guide better academic and financial decisions. In addition, employers need this information so that they can begin evaluating their job descriptions to better reflect their needs with respect to credentials as well as core professional skills.

Reaching these audiences will require a strategic and concerted communications effort by the business community as well as our education systems and government partners.

Simply, the business community will be working with a broad array of partners who have been at the table from the start of this initiative providing input, data, and recommendations. There is not a simple fix. But, there is a strong spirit of cooperation among the partners to develop and implement solutions.
This initiative was spearheaded by the Chamber’s Education and Workforce Council comprised of representatives from MAC investors and partnered by Accenture. A newly formed steering committee includes key public and private sector partners, some of whom are directly engaged in education from kindergarten through higher education and beyond. In addition, human resources professionals, career readiness counselors, and other workforce experts were drawn from government and private industry to participate in the initiative. Public partners leading the launch of this project include the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Georgia Association of Career And Technical Educators, Georgia Department of Economic Development – Workforce Division (GDEcD), Georgia Department of Education (DOE), Georgia Department of Labor (DOL), Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the University System of Georgia (USG). Our business community partners include Accenture, WestRock, Whitaker-Taylor, PulteGroup, Holder Construction and Mohawk Industries.