The Senate Higher Education Committee is considering proposed legislation that would create a joint study committee that would focus on strengthening Georgia’s future workforce. House Resolution 154 was presented to the committee Monday morning by Sen. Nan Orrock (D-Atlanta) but has bipartisan support with 40 Republican and Democrat co-signers.
No action was taken on the resolution Monday, but Chairman Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) said the committee would probably vote Wednesday morning. This committee – the Committee for Strengthening Georgia’s Future Workforce– would look at a number of issues including the need for a needs-based financial aid options for Georgia students.
“Georgia is one of two states (New Hampshire is the other) that does not have a needs-based scholarship program,” said Orrock. “This issue was first brought to me by the people working with students in the high schools across Georgia. They see students every day who can’t afford to go to college. This is also something that has been high on the agenda for the Chamber of Commerce for years, and an issue that the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education has identified as a Top Ten issue to watch.”
Orrock told the committee that in order to maintain Georgia’s position as the “top state for doing business”, the state must continue to look for ways to develop a strong future workforce — especially as Georgia experiences “historic growth” in fields such as technology, healthcare and manufacturing.”
Amy Lancaster King, Senior Director of Workforce Development for the Atlanta Metro Chamber, spoke in favor of the resolution.
“Between 2016 and 2020, 45 percent of the job posts required a Bachelor’s Degree, and that is expected to increase,” said King. She went on to state that in 2018 a study of 8,000 students showed that 54 percent of them faced some type of needs insecurity.
Republican Sen. Brandon Beach (Alpharetta) praised Orrock for bringing the bill forward.
“I’m all for this,’ said Beach. “And I hope we take a vote Wednesday. I think studying this issue will put us at the forefront to fill the jobs that we will have in the next 3-4 years. We need to ensure, as a state, that we have the workforce in place for the future.”
Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) reminded committee members that the state’s economist, in his recent report, states that one of the biggest issues Georgia faces is building a workforce.