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Education and Workforce Speaker Series

Georgia has negative three percent unemployment rate in the tech sector. To fill these jobs, and the countless other science and technology jobs that will emerge in the coming years, Georgians need the matching skills.

STEM has an outsized impact on the state of GA. A recent economic impact report found that STEM supports 61 percent of jobs, 71 percent of economic output, and 66 percent of the state’s GDP. On par with national statistics, and contrary to a lot of conventional wisdom, six out of ten STEM professionals in Georgia do not hold a bachelor’s degree.

To ensure that Georgia’s citizens can keep up with the science and technology workforce demands, it is critical to build an educated, technical, STEM-ready, skilled workforce and maintain a pipeline of students learning employment-ready skills. We need to think about the actual people in the pipeline, from their home environment, to their health, to the infrastructure that supports them, to the parents and caregivers that can create a positive or negative cycle of learning.

With infrastructure, workforce, and education legislation being proposed at a national and state level, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape education and workforce policies and programs that are grounded in science and evidence-based best practices. These changes can provide immediate impact and drive lasting change.

To understand how to achieve an optimized pipeline with all systems working together, we need to look at the status of the pipeline now, evidence-based best-practices for success, and the levers we can pull to make impactful, systemic, changes.

Science for Georgia, Science is US, Technology Association of Georgia, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Partners in Change, and Literacy for All have put to together a series of panel discussions to illustrate the current state and highlight best-practices.

The series will conclude with a summary that identifies the key long-term goals along with policy recommendations and pragmatic steps we can all take during the Georgia’s 2022 legislative session.


Literacy is Key. Jun 16, 1-3pm

Literacy is the key to lifelong improvement and learning. Reading at grade level by the end of third grade is a key indicator of high-school graduation and subsequent life success: stable job, stable housing, stable family life, raising literate children. How do we break the cycle of functional illiteracy? How do we make sure adults can read to learn, so that their children can learn to read? How can children develop needed literacy skills? What are viable solutions and exemplar programs?

Watch a recording of Panel 1 here:

Watch the Panel Here!

Stephanie Blank
Founding Chair, Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. Co-founder, Mothers and Others for Clean Air.
“One thing the pandemic has made clear is the inextricable way childcare and the workforce are linked, particularly for women and their opportunities to better their families and their own well-being.”

Juan-Carlos Aguilar, PhD
Director of Innovative Programs and Research, GA DOE
“In a knowledge-based economy like the one we have, the development of a literate citizenship starts by engaging children in the appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science.”
Amber Scott
Founder and Executive Director, Leap Year
Dr. Fredly Bataille
Pediatrician, Intown Pediatrics. Reach Out & Read.
Dawn Stastny
Georgia PTA President
“Empowering Georgia’s PTAs with information on hosting literacy activities that improve book access and book choice to provide families with ready-to-go literacy resources.” 
Daphne Greenberg, PhD
Distinguished Univ. Professor, Dept. of Learning Sciences
Director, Adult Literacy Research Center, College of Education, Georgia State University
“If we care about our futures, we need to consider quality education for adults as a social justice issue.

Follow the Money Jun 30, 1-3pm

Explore where we currently spend education and workforce training dollars. Where are we spending well? Where could we improve? Do the right people and programs have access to the money they need? What are creative ways and innovative new programs we could invest in?

Information about the budget:
1. 2021 GA General Assembly Session Brief on Education.
2. House Budget Office PowerPoint on the FY22 budget.

Watch a recording panel 2 here:


Stephen J Owens, PhD, Senior Education Policy Analyst, Georgia Budget and Policy Institute “A strong public education system provides opportunities to all children—regardless of race, family income, ability or home language—to expand civic, communal and economic well-being.”

The vital role of technical and community colleges. Jul 14, 1-3pm

Technical and community colleges offer great adult education programs. They are doorways to higher paying jobs and enable people to gain new skills. What do they need to enable success? What can be replicated and scaled? How can this be marketed more effectively to those who should use their services?

Information Mentioned During the Panel:

Georgia Futures – information about aid programs, career planning, etc.. – a careers website

Watch Panel 3 here:

Cayanna Good, PhD
Assistant Commissioner of Adult Education, TCSG
A trained and skilled workforce means healthier families, communities, and a prosperous Georgia.
Robert Russo
8th Grade Physical Science Teacher at McNair Middle School
Other than the novelty of an electronic chalkboard, a student from 50 years ago would find very little has changed in the classroom. We need to fundamentally revision our approach to education. We cannot adequately prepare students for the future using the tools of the past.   
Philip Gibson, PhD
Principal at PhilipGGibson Consulting
“It is particularly critical to put qualified applicants together with opportunities. Technical education brings industry together with an emerging workforce through designed preparatory systems. One of the most important of our challenges is to provide opportunity to those seeking it. We must make this a priority.”
Andrew Chang
VP Digital Marketing and Strategy at Summit Health
“There has never been a better time to increase brand awareness and strength for technical and community colleges.”

Capacity building: physical infrastructure to support human infrastructure. Jul 28, 1-3pm

What infrastructure is needed to increase equity and access for all? How do we get the right resources to people? For example: broadband, labs, equipment, more teachers, counselors to help people navigate aid and learning solutions, and quality childcare.

Information Mentioned During the Panel

  1. Southern Regional Education Board resources
  2. Georgia State Workforce Outlook
  3. Learn 4 Life Data Dashboard

Watch Panel 4 Here

Lawrence Baines, PhD
Director of Teacher Education at Berry College

Updated on July 29, 2021

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