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Deal, Mike Rowe team up to plug Ga.s skills gap
'This initiative ... will open new opportunities for our students,' Deal says
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Gov. Nathan Deal wants to end the skilled trades gap in Georgia's industries.

His solution is Go Build Georgia, an initiative to educate students on the value of learning a trade and in the long run, provide better opportunities for employers to hire an educated workforce.

Go Build Georgia will address the state's skilled labor shortage through public outreach and education, according to a news release from the Governor's Office.

"This initiative ... will open new opportunities for our students and Georgia's job seekers," Deal said in the news release. "Go Build Georgia brings together education and business stakeholders to further develop our workforce which will make our state more competitive nationally."

About 40 students from across the state were present for Tuesday's festivities under the Gold Dome, including 12 from Hall County, representing Johnson, Chestatee and West Hall high schools.

"It's to bring all aspects of construction together — technical schools, high schools, everything," said Baker Pulliam, construction technology instructor at Chestatee High. "The Governor's Office started it to get the building industry back but also to give us a single resource to go to."

Pulliam called Tuesday's events a "kick-off," but a better term might be "build-off."

"We took a group of students and they did construction work," he said. "Kids that did carpentry built a small wall, another student did a brick wall, one student did plumbing and one did electrical, right there inside the Capitol."

Conner Thomas, 15, a sophomore at Chestatee High, came to get practice for his SkillsUSA competition and ended up "framing half a house." Another student from West Hall demonstrated masonry to excited onlookers.

"They were pretty intrigued," said Paul Macy, 17, a junior at Chestatee High. "They asked a lot of questions. As our friend Conner was building the walls and the truss, we were explaining to them what was going on, what kind of studs he was making and where a window or door would be."

Taylor Kapiloff, 17, also a junior at Chestatee High, thinks Go Build Georgia is a step forward in the construction industry.

"It'll help people develop skills so when they get into the career force, they'll have a basic knowledge of the construction field," he said.

Carpentry, plumbing, electric work, welding, civil engineering and truck driving are some of the industries Go Build Georgia will heighten awareness of, according to the project website.

The state is partnering with Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," who partnered with Alabama on a similar 2010 initiative.

According to the news release, Rowe wants to call attention to the growing skills gap while providing a comprehensive resource for anyone wanting a career in a trade industry.

"When we launched in Alabama, I said I wanted to go down the alphabet and challenge every state in the nation to send the message that American needs young people willing to master a trade and help us build our future," Rowe said in the news release.

"I've had a front row seat to all different kinds of work, and I can tell you that there's nothing more important to our country than skilled labor."

 

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