Senator Sims touts technical ed - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Senator Sims touts technical ed

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

From 12th District Sen. Freddie Powell Sims-

With each passing month, the economy continues to show promising signs of sustained growth after the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression.  However, encouraging economic numbers hold very little weight for Georgians who are still unemployed. 

With our state's unemployment rate a full percentage point above the national average, it is clear that Georgia's recovery is lagging behind those of our neighbors.  Presently, there are encouraging developments surrounding technical employment throughout the state that you, my constituents from the 12th District, must be made aware of.

One privilege I have as your State Senator is the ability to interact with various companies throughout the state regularly.  Last week, while participating in a discussion on aerospace engineering, I met executives from Timco Aviation Services.  Timco Aviation Services is one of the world's leading independent aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul providers. 

Throughout our discussion, I was reminded of the 100 or more openings Timco has at their Macon location.  To be honest, I was somewhat baffled.  Every news story and unemployment report seemingly paints a bleak employment picture in Georgia.  I was extremely interested to hear how so many positions have gone unfilled at a time when so many people are looking for jobs.

It turns out, the answer is rather simple.  There aren't enough highly trained and specialized technical workers to apply.  We must begin to reshape the way we think about higher education.  Obtaining a degree from traditional four year universities has long been viewed as the most desirable path to a brighter future. 

Yet, a different kind of degree is needed for a company like Timco.  For those kinds of jobs, you will need to be educated at one of Georgia's many institutions which make up the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

The numbers speak for themselves:  last year 82 percent of TCSG graduates were employed in their field of study.  This staggering statistic is a clear indication that our technical schools are extremely effective in not only educating students, but also in making sure their graduates find jobs.  Furthermore, students can choose from an array of certificate and diploma programs that can be completed in one to four semesters. 

Cutting-edge technical areas such as robotics manufacturing and bioscience technology are the way of the future.  Transformational technologies, a practice of taking traditional technologies and transforming them, have replaced more traditional technical programs. 

Today's technical colleges are equipped to provide world class workforce skills far beyond ones expectations!  From Albany Technical College to South Georgia Technical College, students can pursue career paths that lead to immediate and meaningful employment.  If you are currently in the workforce but looking for new opportunities, technical schools are perfect venues for achieving career moves and career options.

Thankfully, the legislature realizes the need to get more individuals in our technical schools.  Right now there is bi-partisan legislation moving through both chambers that would make the HOPE Grant more accessible to our citizens.   If passed, students who maintain a 2.0 GPA would now be eligible for the grant as opposed to the current 3.0 requirement. 

 From 2011 to 2012, there were 41,716 fewer TCSG students receiving the HOPE Grant.  At a time when Georgia companies are looking for skilled workers, this is simply unacceptable.  The proposed legislation seeks to reverse this alarming trend and get people back into the classroom.  With support from Governor Deal, I'm very hopeful this important piece of legislation will pass. 

I'm calling on you, my constituents, to get involved and investigate your options.  Find a technical school that fits your personality.  With the anticipated changes coming to the HOPE Grant, the state will cover a large part of a student's tuition allowing them to dive head first into their academic pursuits. 

 We cannot afford to let these amazing employment opportunities pass us by.  Technical education is a unique opportunity to become a highly skilled individual with unlimited career options.       

Sen. Freddie Powell Sims represents the 12th Senate District, which includes Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Dougherty, Quitman, Randolph, Stewart, Terrell and Webster counties and portions of Mitchell and Sumter counties. She may be reached at 404.463.5259 or by email at Freddie.Sims@senate.ga.gov.

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