GDOL, Richmond Co Schools, Textron and AT&T Partner on a Unique Jobs for Georgia Graduates Program

Staff Report From Augusta CEO

Friday, January 27th, 2017

The Georgia Department of Labor, Richmond County School System, Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. and AT&T are collaborating to provide an additional resource to help some high school students in Augusta complete their education and prepare for careers after they receive their diplomas.

The GDOL has started a Jobs for Georgia Graduates chapter at Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing, the unique cooperative-education program launched in August by the Richmond County School System and Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. The JGG program is made possible by a grant from AT&T.

“Jobs for Georgia Graduates has been long-recognized for its success motivating students to graduate from high school, while also teaching them soft skills needed for a successful transition into higher education and work,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.  “And, because of this new partnership, students in Augusta have the unique opportunity to learn skills that will prepare them for good-paying careers in manufacturing, as soon as they graduate.”

The RPM program provides at-risk students with the ability to make up lost ground toward a high-school diploma and earn income and valuable work experience in a manufacturing facility. The program combines an instructional day with a four-hour shift at a manufacturing facility that produces components and subassemblies for products manufactured by Textron Specialized Vehicles, which manufactures vehicles under the E-Z-GO, Cushman, Textron Off Road, TUG and Douglas brands.

The RPM program began in August with an inaugural class of 75 students. Besides traditional academic classes, RPM students also receive training in life skills, and are provided additional tutoring resources as needed. The new JGG chapter is a natural complement to RPM, as it is a proven, highly successful school-to-career transition program for high school students who have personal and/or vocational barriers to entering higher education or employment.

JGG provides pre-employment training, work skills, motivational activities and job development follow-up services to increased graduation rates and encourage a successful transition from school to work. In the 2016 school year, 99 percent of JGG students graduated, compared to the overall statewide high school graduation rate of 79.2 percent.

JGG is a state affiliate of the national Jobs for America’s Graduates program. There are 22 chapters in Georgia, including two others in Augusta.

“We are proud of our existing partnerships with the Department of Labor and Jobs for Georgia Graduates at Josey High School and Cross Creek High School,” said Dr. Angela Pringle, superintendent of the Richmond County School System. “We are excited about the ability to partner at our RPM Facility. As a major Georgia manufacturing hub, providing a chance for our students to learn manufacturing skills from a leading company, while working towards graduation, is an unparalleled opportunity.”

Jason Alford, vice president, integrated supply chain for Textron Specialized Vehicles, said: “We are very thankful to Jobs for Georgia Graduates and the Georgia Department of Labor for supporting the RPM program, and also deeply appreciate AT&T’s generosity in helping to establish the new program. This new academy will help broaden RPM students’ horizons and open new doors to them as they continue their education and prepare to begin their careers after high school.”

The first year of the JGG operating budget will be partially funded by a $30,000 grant from AT&T, which Butler says is vital to the program’s expansion.

“Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, and Commissioner Butler’s leadership has been essential to developing opportunities for Jobs for Georgia’s Graduates to help students throughout Georgia graduate and gain the critical skills they need to succeed in 21st century jobs,” said Bill Leahy, president AT&T Georgia. “We are proud to support this vital program, and we appreciate the opportunity offered by Commissioner Butler, the Richmond County School System and Textron Specialized Vehicles Inc. to help these students reach their full potential.”

The financial contribution from AT&T comes from the company’s ongoing national support of JAG. Over the last five years, AT&T has contributed more than $2 million, which is awarded to state affiliates to support local JAG programs. AT&T has provided an additional $250,000 to support JAG’s national operation and events over the past several years.

“AT&T’s financial support of JAG has helped thousands of students throughout the country complete high school and successfully transition into the next step in their careers,” said Jim Koeninger, JAG’s executive vice-president. “This is the third JGG chapter AT&T has helped launch, and it’s the only program among our state affiliates that provides real-life job training for a career in manufacturing.”

The remainder of the $70,000 annual operating budget for the JGG chapter will be paid by the GDOL and Richmond County School System, which will each contribute $20,000.