Category: A - Newsbreaks
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June 30--  We hear all the time about the county's high unemployment rate, yet companies say they have jobs but no qualified people who really want to work.

The CEO of AT&T told a recent conference they had to send 5,000 jobs overseas because they couldn't get the people they needed in the U.S.

Here in Toombs County, one company manager complains about laziness and says some employees are more concerned about time off than earning money to make a living.

Yet, local leaders know a qualified and motivated workforce must be available to attract companies with jobs to our area. This week in Vidalia, manufacturers and businesses met with educators seeking ways to find good employees.

One of the area's newest employers, Chicken of the Sea, is working with Southeastern Tech's Economic Development Center to screen employees before they apply for a job.

Each potential worker is required to take a three-hour test which identifies their strengths and weaknesses.  If they fit the job the tuna company is trying to fill, they get an interview according to Human Resources Director Nancy Palmer.

"The work ready certificate is great for our company because it helps us find employees who can do the jobs we need so we can match employees to the jobs.  We're both successful so it's a win-win situation for both of us," she says.

Hiring people who don't work out is expensive in terms of time and money for companies.  Palmer says the Work-Ready program has reduced the company's turnover by two-thirds.

"We have been using this program for about four months and our turnover rate has gone from about 28 percent to nine percent.  It's a big change and we're very excited about this program," Palmer reports.

Another aspect of the employment picture is encouraging young people to get a high school diploma and be prepared for a job when they graduate.

Dr. Ryan Flowers of the Southeast Early College and Career Academy told the meeting the school is available to offer training programs tailored for local industries.  Students from four area high schools will be taking classes at the new charter school when school starts in August.