Atlanta Tech Builds Skilled Workforce in the Workplace

Lucy Adams

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Atlanta Technical College makes a $63 million impact on metro Atlanta. Though it is widely associated with certificate and associate degree programs that feed graduates into the workforce of area industries, Atlanta Tech also provides non-credit training for employees of businesses in Fulton County south of the Chattahoochee River and in Clayton County. “We do whatever training they want,” says Warren Pincombe, Economic Development Specialist. “I find an instructor. We design a curriculum.”

Through its self-supporting Customized Contract Training program, the Economic Development arm of Atlanta Tech served 110 companies during the 2014 fiscal year, up from 67 in 2013. Those companies received a total of 195,847 contact hours for their employees. Terreta Rodgers, Director of Communication and Marketing, says, “Our goal is to drive the economic engine of the state through quality education programs. We help employees improve their skills and contribute at a much higher level.”

Training is specific – for example, stainless steel welding, conversational English, Microsoft Excel or leadership development – with the intention of moving existing employees, as opposed to new hires, from point A to point B in a single skill domain. The needs of the particular company dictate the course content, which can be delivered on site or on the Atlanta Tech campus. Many companies choose to utilize Atlanta Tech’s Dennard Conference Center or one of the instructional labs.

Organizations such as Newell-Rubbermaid, The Coca-Cola Company, Ritz Carlton Hotels and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have benefitted from the Customized Contract Training program for professional development. Each of the 24 technical colleges in the state of Georgia has similar programs, so a company with several locations may request coordinated services. “If a company does business in Atlanta, they use the program at Atlanta Tech,” says Rodgers.

In addition to overseeing the customized, non-credit training initiatives, Pincombe aids businesses in receiving a tax credit for training programs. “If they invest in training for existing employees, the state considers that a win,” says Pincombe. In 2013, Pincombe conducted Georgia Retraining tax credit reviews for 178 metropolitan Atlanta companies resulting in more than $13.4 million in retraining tax credits. A company qualifies for the Georgia Retraining Tax Credit if it has paid for existing employees to learn skills related to new technology, new equipment or new quality processes. The tax credit can amount up to $500 per person per course and up to $1250 per employee per year. “It doesn’t have to be a huge company. A very small company can get a tax credit, too,” he says.

Ongoing professional development has huge value. The business enjoys financial reward via return of greater productivity from its workers plus related tax incentives. Employees gain marketable skills and job security.

Rodgers describes the Customized Contract Training program as a “one-stop shop” for professional development. One-stop, however, does not imply one size fits all. “We want to be the premier source for contract training in the region,” says Pincombe. Curriculum design for each company addresses both the employees’ baseline level of skill mastery within the identified domain and the desired level of mastery at completion of the course. Instructors with proven expertise in their fields combined with teaching experience guide trainees, and their employers, to success.