The economic development community in Georgia has heard from the private sector that one of the greatest challenges facing businesses in Georgia, nationally, and globally is the need for a consistent, trained and reliable workforce. In response, Governor Deal created the High Demand Career Initiative (HDCI) to allow those involved in training Georgia's future workforce – the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) – to hear directly from the private sector about what specific needs they have from a workforce perspective (i.e., degrees/majors, certificates, courses, etc.). "By aligning these entities, the state gains an enhanced ability to attract new business and to ensure that existing industry continues to thrive in a business-friendly climate," Chris Carr, the state's economic development commissioner, said in a news release.

The state's workforce development agency is moving under the banner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development in a move state leaders said Wednesday will more closely align job-readiness programs with Georgia's business recruitment and retention efforts.

To kick off the initiative, three meetings have been scheduled to provide an opportunity for USG and TCSG to hear directly from companies on their specific workforce needs. Governor Nathan Deal will be in attendance at each of these public meetings. The meetings have been or will be held on April 15 in Atlanta, on April 21 in Dalton, and on May 13 in Statesboro. Stay tuned for further reports on new workforce development efforts resulting from this dialogue between the private sector and our State's educational forces.