Intensive job training programs coming to Riverdale in 2022
by Robin Kemp
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment in Clayton County dropped from 13.8% to 3.9% in October 2021, according to the Development Authority of Clayton County (Invest Clayton). That’s a drop of 9.9% in 2021.
The national unemployment rate was 4.6% in October. As of November, the national unemployment rate had fallen to 4.1.%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
At its final meeting for 2021 Tuesday night, Invest Clayton Chair Regina Deloach credited Executive Director Larry Vincent and Invest Clayton’s staff (Development Officer Sydney-Alyce Bourget and Research Analyst and Manager Lori Smith) with moving the needle.
Vincent said bringing jobs directly to people in the areas where the most help is needed is part of the solution. That means job fairs not just at the county, but in each of the municipalities and in unincorporated areas like Rex and Conley.
Another part of the puzzle is financing for big projects that bring additional jobs, like new bond issues for Clorox and Clayton State University. Other projects in the pipeline include an e-commerce development at the Gilbert Road Joint Venture in Mountain View, as well as an upscale mixed-use development at the former Ingles on Jonesboro Road across from Clayton State.
Mountain View has not had any development to speak of for half a century, Vincent said.
In addition, Invest Clayton is set to partner, in two separate deals, with Goodwill Industries and Accession Distribution Training Center to bring intensive, short-term job training programs to a targeted census tract in Riverdale. The courses would run eight to 12 weeks, Vincent said, with students ready to work as soon as they finish.
The City of Riverdale is volunteering space at Riverdale Town Center for some courses like patient care tech. Deloach said she wanted to add medical assistant training because they can earn more money with skills like coding and billing and dispense medication. Vincent said that might be possible and that he was “reaching out to two hospitals.”
Accession Distribution is a nonprofit that offers training in welding, heavy equipment use, construction, forklifts, and computer networking. They train adults ages 18 and up, people re-entering society after incarceration, seniors, and veterans.
Vincent said would not be like high school or college courses, but “small, purposeful, focused training to guarantee the success of the applicants.” He added the short job-training courses were “not here to replace Clayton County Public Schools, Clayton State University, or Atlanta Area Tech” because successful graduates would go straight to work. That means less-motivated people would likely be dropped from the intensive training, he said.
“If you’re not ready, you’ll probably be drummed out,” Vincent said. “The purpose is to go to work.”
Vincent said these kinds of programs have about an 80% success rate, with construction-ready programs at a 92% success rate.
A starting date has not yet been set for the first round of training, which would offer 58 spaces total. Not all programs would require a GED but they will be intensive and are designed for “adults in the community,” Deloach said–not for high school dual enrollment.
Deloach stressed that she wanted to make sure that Clayton County residents get preference for those slots, saying she felt sure that she could get 58 people in Clayton County. The greatest areas of need are along 19/41 and Georgia Highway 85.
She added that the county’s extended-stay motel residents might want to take part in that job training.
The goal in Clayton County, Deloach said, is not just to fight unemployment, but underemployment, and helping people move up the ladder to better jobs over time.